Nalini Singh

I feel like I have to say something about this author, despite the fact that I love her books. They’re kinda cheesy, but I love them. The thing I have to mention is the titles of her books. They’re completely ridiculous. They’re like, weirdly pornographic titles. I mean, I know they’re romance novels, so it isn’t without reason but my god, really? You’re gonna call your book “Slave to Sensation”? Really? Now, it should be noted that this book is about an empath, so the title sort of works, but again, why does it have to be so ridiculous? Or her next one, which is called “Visions of Heat”, which is about a forseer.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. This is a violation of my literary laws. And you should name your books something good, or interesting, not something that makes people hide their book against the table and hope no one asks what their reading. It’s embarrassing. I mean, I’ve made fun of other authors for that kind of crap. Like Laurell K. Hamilton for instance. Do you know how hard I laughed when I saw that one of her books was called “Lick of Frost”? (a character in that series is named Frost) Really, really hard. Other people in the bookstore gave me weird looks and moved away from me, but that didn’t stop me. And now I follow a series that has titles like that regularly. Why would you do that to me? Why? I still mock Laurell K. Hamilton for that crap, and they’re called that. Of course there are all sorts of other reasons to mock Laurell K. Hamilton if you ignore that one, but that was one of my favorites dammit!

Also, since I’m talking about Nalini Singh and my literary laws, I’ll go ahead and toss this out there: she’s edging dangerously close to Character Abuse and I’m not okay with that. Character Abuse, for those of you who haven’t read my post on literary laws, is when the author is clearly working out some aggression, or self hate or something, and makes their characters go through the most ridiculous amount of crap imaginable. If there is a way to hurt the characters, some arcane bit of horror to make them experience, whether it makes any sense or adds to the plot in a meaningful way or not, they’ll do it. I highly disapprove of this kind of behavior. And Nalini Singh is edging very close to being guilty of this kind of crap. I’m really not okay with that. For now, I’m letting it go since she’s clearly going for a mood in her books of danger being very close, of passion and violence being all around you at every moment, especially in her Hunter series, and to do that you obviously have to make some sacrifices but I’m watching her. She’s very close to being on my list. I’d hate to put her on it, because then I don’t think I can read her books anymore. Nalini, if you’re reading this, be nicer to your characters. I’m begging you.

Advertisements

Shonda Rhimes Must Be Stopped

I just want to start by saying that I do not watch “Grey’s Anatomy”, nor have I for years, but I am vaguely aware of what goes on with it. I have a friend who watches it and there’s a tv blog that I read that discusses it regularly and well… sometimes I’m bored and curious. I want that firmly understood before I say this, because if I, someone who hasn’t watched the show for years and is only vaguely aware of it’s drama, not every little bit, not everything that happens, just sort of aware of it, then surely it’s worse than I know. And surely it must be even more true than I realize when I say: Shonda Rhimes must be stopped. She’s the showrunner for “Grey’s Anatomy” and the things that she has done to Meredith Grey… honestly, if it were real life, I would intervene. It’s abusive. It is full on character abuse. Every time I hear anything about the show, it’s something about Meredith’s life going to crap- again. What does this woman have against her own character? I honestly think that kind of behavior is a form of self hate. Just check out this quote from CliqueClack, that blog I mentioned:

“Since the very beginning of Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith’s luck has been absolutely lousy. Let’s review:

She hooked up with a man she didn’t know was married and watched as he went back to his wife, despite her humiliating pleas for him to pick her. She removed a live bomb from the body of a patient, then stood witness as it blew up the cute bomb squad guy. Her mother, who’d been emotionally abusive to Meredith her entire life, had Alzheimer’s and died as Meredith was being resuscitated after a suicide attempt. Her estranged alcoholic father, who was happy with the new family he’d made after leaving Meredith and her mother, blamed Meredith after his second wife died in a freakish manner while Meredith was her doctor. Her dog got sick and had to be put down. A close friend was hit by a truck and died, while another had stage four cancer, went into remission, then left. The guy for whom she’d long pined “married” her on a Post-It, but then was shot in the chest and nearly died as Meredith, who offered herself up as a sacrifice to the gunman who was killing everybody, miscarried her baby. Meredith then couldn’t get pregnant but when she eventually adopted a baby, her husband left her as punishment for her screwing up a clinical trial. Meredith’s baby was taken away by social services, then returned, and her husband came back, too, only to have the season end with Meredith and her husband involved in a plane crash where Meredith’s sister Lexie was killed. Oh, and it’s possible that Meredith could have Alzheimer’s. Shonda Rhimes probably will give Meredith Alzheimer’s.” (http://cliqueclack.com/tv/2012/05/18/greys-anatomy-season-8-finale-review/)

And that wasn’t even the complete list. I’ll say it again. Shonda Rhimes must be stopped. I realize that Meredith Grey isn’t real, so it will make things difficult, but surely if we all band together, we can work out a way to stage an intervention? A kidnapping? Something, anything, to save this poor girl from her tormentor.

Literary Laws

Note: this will be a work in progress since I’m pretty sure I won’t remember all of them right this second.

-Character abuse- this is when the author uses the character as a punching bag for some reason. It might be because they secretly hate themselves, it might be because they think it will make their book more hard- core or darker, it might be because they have unrealistic expectations for themselves and are using their character as an avatar. I don’t know, but it is easily recognizable, always distasteful and always ruins the book. The examples are numerous: anything by Devon Monk, anything by Maggie Furey, I could go on.

-Wandering Plot- I have seen perfectly good books fall into this. It’s always sad. A prime example is “Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clark. This is clearly a book where she first came up with the concept, came up with the characters, wrote beautifully about said concept and characters for about three hundred some odd pages and then realized that she needed to have some sort of conflict in the book. So a kidnapping is very hastily thrown in and a hundred pages later is resolved and the book ends. Its one of the best example of wandering plot but it’s still a sad thing to see it happen to a book.

-Annoying sidekick- this is one of my biggest pet peeves, possibly ever. This is where the author introduces an annoying sidekick, sometimes the second or even third book in, and then persist in keeping them around. Even when you want to choke the shit out of them and they contribute nothing to the book as a whole, the author persists in keeping them around. I sometimes think it’s because they know you hate their character and want to make you pay for disliking any of their work. I might be being paranoid about that. The most egregious example I can think of is the Dhampir series, by Barb and J.C. Hendee. Wynn, the annoying, weak, annoying, so annoying, pathetic sidekick to the main characters just will not go the hell away. And then a second series was written, without the main characters there to make the books bearable. Not that I dislike their books, I quite like them, but I am unwilling to suffer through Wynn and her annoying vampire boyfriend- centric books. I’m just not.

-Persistent character- this one can be super annoying or kinda cool, depending on the author. It’s when the author persistently, constantly, for no apparent reason, keeps bringing a character back. Like, a series where every book is from someone else’s perspective and you never go back, the same character keeps popping up. Generally it’s the main character in the first book in the series, but not always. You’ll recognize them by virtue of them popping up in pretty much everything the author writes for that series. Even in short stories, they show up to say a line or two, or are mentioned in some tertiary way. And their evolution is always pretty obvious as a slow, avatarization of the character for the author. More and more they appear unnaturally perfect, and everyone loves them. They are awesome in all ways, and let us have entire chapters where the main character for this book interacts with them, purely because that character is the author’s favorite. Honestly, the only instance I can think of where it isn’t super annoying is in Meljean Brook’s Guardian series, where it is plainly Lillith. The most annoying, I would say, is Bella of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. She was okay at first and then she just kept showing up, getting more and more perfect and beloved of everyone in every single book. Also annoying is Sasha in Nalini Singh’s Psy- Changeling series, though she was pretty cool at first.

-Mary- Sue-ing- this is a very egregious offense. Honestly, there is nothing that will ruin a series faster. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s when the author make the main character everything they wish they could be. The character has no flaws, everyone loves them, everyone wants them, and even if they do have flaws, no one talks about them like they are. The character can do no wrong. This is the avatarization I was discussing a moment ago. And honestly, the persistent character is an off- shoot of this, that is when it happens gradually and when the character in question has no purpose in the book. This generally happens when it is a multi- book series centered on one character. The best example I can think of is the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I haven’t read one in a while but last I checked it was beyond ridiculous. Anita was super- powered, every man she met wanted her, every woman she met was either an idiot or cool and died quickly, and every book she acquired more strength and more ability to kill. It was insane. The Mary-Sueing involved there is just… wow. It’s just wow.

-Pornographic titles- this honestly isn’t that big of a deal, but I have to mention it. It’s like the equivalent of a traffic ticket to these other ones, but it bears mentioning, not because it’s terribly bad, but because it’s embarrassing. When you can’t show your book to people because it’s called “Slave to Sensation” (about an empath, by Nalini Singh) or “Lick of Frost” (Frost is a character btw, by Laurell K. Hamilton) then I have to ding you. I mean, if your book is an erotica, then fine, great, truth in advertising. I have no argument there. But when it’s just a romance novel or a “horror” (you’re fooling no one Laurell K. Hamilton) then yeah, something has gone wrong. You want people to proudly show off their books, discuss them with friends, not hide them against the countertop and hope no one asks what their reading. Seriously, rethink your titles.

-Deceptive Descriptions- this is a very sad thing to have happen to you. It’s when the back of the book promises one thing and you are given another. It’s horrible, generally. You’ve been lied to by the book, sold a bill of goods. Sometimes it works out well, when the blurb on the back makes it sound so much stupider than it actually is (like the description on the paperback copy of “Fire Rose” by Mercedes Lackey) but it can also go horribly, horribly wrong. I once even found myself lied to about the actual genre of a book- that’s how far it can go (“Viridis” by Calista Taylor). But still, the book shouldn’t lie to you; it feels like a betrayal somehow.

-Unnecessary Details- this is when the author spends three paragraphs telling you about a room when all you really need to know about is the conversation that is happening inside it. It can get really super- annoying. It is also, and people are going to get angry with me about this, in Tolkien’s books when he gives completely unnecessary details about a legend, or a song, or a piece of history, or introducing whole characters for one chapter out of a whole book and spending two pages talking about them just so they can shoot an arrow and kill Smaug. I realize they’re creating ambience and a whole world and whatnot, but there is a limit people. Learn where the line is, it will help your book, I promise.

-Protagonist?- this is one of the worst offenses, in my opinion. It can very easily ruin a book or an entire series. It’s when one of the main characters, a purported protagonist, is such a self-righteous tool that you have zero sympathy for them. You seriously start to question why it is you’re supposed to like them, root for them, empathize with them, etc., instead of, say, wanting the bad guy to beat the crap out of them just to shut them the hell up. In particularly bad cases you find yourself wanting them to actually be the bad guy so you can hate them in peace, instead of the other characters persisting in acting like they’re an okay person. They’ve just spent the last two hundred pages being a dillhole, so as far as you’re concerned, no, they’re not an okay person. There are multiple examples, but the only one that springs immediately to mind is “In a Wolf’s Embrace” by Lora Leigh, I’ll update this when I have more.

-Plot Abuse- this is when the plot starts off as one thing and is twisted into something else, either through selfishness on the author’s part, lack of skill or a complete inability to write in a straight line, so to speak. The author starts off with a simple murder plot, say, and somehow it wanders off into romance and drama with politics and god only knows what else thrown in. This was not a random example, btw. That is literally what happened to “Viridis” by Calista Taylor. I don’t want to rag unnecessarily on that book, but dude. What she did to that plot was a travesty. I had forgotten there was even a murder mystery by the end. I don’t think she did it on purpose, but sometimes authors do, out of laziness or sheer vanity and that is even worse.

-Character Swapping- this is when an author apparently only has a few characters in their head and writes them over and over. It’s kind of sad really. I mean, it can also be funny and a little fun, kind of like a literary “Where’s Waldo?” but it’s still a bad sign. The best example I can think of are the works of Rob Thurman. Read through her works and tell me that you do not see Niko and Cal, over and over, with slightly different descriptions and backstories tacked onto them. Seriously, try it. It’s funny and sad, all at the same time. That’s not even the weird part though- the weird part is that the characters she writes, all four of them, are all really different from one another. That’s unique, in my experience. They’re all very different from one another and very distinct personalities, which is what makes them so very, very recognizable in her other series. It’s like they put on a different hat and changed jackets before running back onstage. Another example is the work of David Eddings, although that one isn’t quite as good since all the characters are basically the same person, over and over, in different clothes or with different hair or different gender specific body parts. He tries to tack on a few superficial personality traits but even those fall off after a while.

Devon Monk

I was going to do this book by book, but since my opinion has sort of changed i don’t think I can do that. Okay, let’s start from the top- her first book, “Magic in the Bones”, great book. Awesome. The writing is good, the heroine is kick ass, the hero is awesome, the whole thing is awesome. Then there was the second book which, while still good, was kinda creepy and not in a good way. I didn’t enjoy that one as much. Third one, “Magic in the Shadows”, is better but here’s the thing- she had added unnecessary, in my view, complications to an already complicated story. She added unnecessary challenges for a heroine who already had the cards stacked against her. And then, as though that weren’t enough, she added the heroine’s dad as a psychic passenger/ parasite/ whatever. The point is, her dad is in her head and can sometimes take control of her. Her dad is not a nice person, he is not a good person. And considering he’s basically possessing her, he’s also psychically raping her. This took me a little while to figure out,  I will admit, because it’s never presented that way. She never reacts like someone who is being possessed/ psychically raped by her dead, asshole father would act. I mean, she gets upset, and talks about how she wants him out and blah blah blah, but there’s never any mention of feeling violated or betrayed or any of the other things you would expect when someone, anyone, has taken up residence in your mind, in your innermost thoughts and occasionally forces you to act in ways you never wanted to. Let alone how someone would react if that person were their father. So not only is this psychic rape basically never addressed, just brushed off as “she’s strong”, but it’s incestuous psychic rape- by a dead guy. It took me a while to realize that that was why I always got very upset when I read her books and ended up with a serious case of the heebie jeebies. I just thought it was a matter of the books being creepy, which they totally are, but it’s way more than that. By all rights Allie, the heroine, should be almost catatonic by the fifth book. I don’t care how strong you are, your father possessing you, chunks of your memory falling away every time you use magic, which is all the time because you’re an idiot, and being surrounded by magical conspiracies, not to mention weird ghosts of magic users that show up every time you use magic and try to eat you, will take a toll on a person. Honestly, I don’t see why she still uses magic. If I lost chunks of memory every time I used it, not to mention suffered pain or fever, which is apparently the norm, it would take a life or death situation to make me use it. You have to have a secret love for pain or something to think that that is an okay trade to make, just to make a living. There are other ways to earn a paycheck, girl. And then getting caught up in the magical mafia, which leads to even more magic use and more price for magic… screw that. Either this author has never really thought through the actual, genuine emotional price such things would take or she’s a strong person who assumes that since she is strong, and thinks she can handle anything, then she literally can. I have a phrase for this kind of author- behavior by the way: it’s called character abuse, and it’s a violation of one of my literary laws. I’ll detail those in another post. The point is- she has unreasonable expectations for this chick and beats her up all the time. Just because you’re strong and have handled everything that life has thrown at you, doesn’t mean that there aren’t things, things that you just so happen to be detailing in your books, that you couldn’t handle. Hurting your character doesn’t make you or her look better. Just stop. And stop the psychic incestuous violation, it’s disgusting and it made me stop reading your books. And I LIKED Allie. I liked your series, despite the heebie jeebies. It was interesting, it was unusual, it was dark and shadowy and I love that in a book. But that’s just too much. Dial it back. Like, a lot.

#1 “Magic in the Bone”

#2 “Magic in the Blood”

#3 “Magic in the Shadows”

#4 “Magic on the Storm”

#5 “Magic at the Gate”

#6 “Magic on the Hunt”

there might be more, I’ve kinda given up on the series