Sunday, May 24, 2009

My thoughts on the Bones of Faerie

I liked the novel. I liked being thrown into it. Yes, I could see how it might be confusing. And yes, the same thing can annoy me in other fantasy novels at times. (Sometimes I'm patient enough to go with the flow. Other times I give up.) When the book relies on world-building it can be tricky. But for some reason, I didn't mind in this case. True, not all questions were answered. And a bit more back story could have helped things along. But I like to piece some things together myself. And having the author explain each and every thing all at once, all at the beginning, wouldn't make for great storytelling either. I thought not-knowing added to the mystery of it.

With fantasy--especially in series and I don't know if this will be a series or not--but if an author is all action, little explanation we as readers complain because there are unanswered questions and it can be confusing. But if we get a book that is all explanation--all set up--and little action, then we complain that nothing happens and that there is no plot. I've read dozens (and dozens) of first-books-in-the-series where we spend 200 out of 300 pages just waiting for the action to start. And they're not all that fun to read. You hope that the second book improves and the action can finally start rolling along.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules. Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians, The Lightning Thief, etc. Books where you're drawn in immediately and stay hooked. But most fantasy is somewhere between the two extremes of too much and too little.

I'm curious if a reread would make a difference? I read this one in April--late April. And so my memory is a bit fuzzy now. Some books are great the first time through when you're caught up in the 'and then what happens' of it and then the second reading, you begin to pick out all the little 'flaws' and 'quirks' that didn't quite work for you. I've had it work the opposite way too. Where a second reading un-confused me and left me loving it.

It could be a mood thing as well. For me, the timing of this one was perfect. I'd just finished a really sludge-worthy book that had kept me bogged down and frustrated. I was looking for a quick read. An entertaining read. Something short and satisfying. For me, this book did that well. It got me out of the funk I was in. I loved the opening chapter. And it held my interest from that point on.


Laza said...

I definitely think you have a point. It is a fine line that fantasy writers have to walk between action and explanation. I've been reading a lot of YA fantasy stuff lately (not sure why) and one of the most important things I've found is world-building. I agree with you that the book can't rely on that. It's what makes the first Harry Potter book so hard to get through for some people. But, in order to ask the reader to believe in something you have to give them the reasons, the rules of the world. Maybe in my reading, I just didn't pick up on some things fast enough. I'm not really sure, but I definitely felt confused through most of the book. (Not that I didn't understand anything that was happening, but that I didn't have context for things that were going on.)

I really didn't hate this book. I think I just had too high or different expectations (although, honestly, I'm not really sure why, I didn't know that much about it) and it didn't deliver for me. Nothing about the book was terrible. I had recently finished Wicked Lovely, which I thought was a really well-done faerie book, so this just didn't compare. I'm sure a lot of my opinion is driven by mood. I do wonder if I read it again, if I would feel the same way. I was driven to finish it, because I did want to know what happened, but I just couldn't connect with the characters.

That being said, I'm glad you liked it! I can't pinpoint anyone in particular, but I know I've read good reviews of it, so I'm probably in the minority on this one. :)

I hadn't heard of the Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians, I'll have to check that out!

Becky said...

Laza, I think mood has to do with it a lot of the time. I'd just finished a bad book, you'd just finished a good book. :) Anything I read after the other, was bound to be an improvement. And actually, I'd been in a slumpy mood for weeks. Nothing quite hitting the spot.

You mentioned Harry Potter. I'm one of those that found the first book hard to get through--it was just a bit boring for me with not much happening. I *know* that later books must pick up and then some or else it wouldn't have such a huge fan base. But I never felt that thrill or excitement. I haven't read the other books. I'm not a hater. I just haven't picked them up.

Expectations can play a role in it as well. The higher the expectations--in a way--the harder the fall if it disappoints. I know I've felt like that before. I know I'm in an extreme minority for not finding Frankie Landau-Banks the best book ever. (It just didn't thrill me.)

I think Bones of Faerie--like any other book--is hit and miss. I've seen positive, I've seen negative, I've seen meh. Like with The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Another book that has been getting lots of buzz in the blog world. Some people love it, some people really don't.