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Methinks I Need to Safeword

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Family, Reading | Posted on 05-09-2008

5

I’m about 34 of the way through The Devil’s Right Hand by Lilith Saint­crow — 3rd of 5 or 6 books in the Dante Valen­tine series — and I don’t think I can take any more.

I want to know how the sto­ry ends. I real­ly like some of the char­ac­ters. I just can’t stand the main char­ac­ter! She’s a total har­ri­dan. I’m start­ing to think that Saint­crow is inca­pable of writ­ing a female pro­tag­o­nist who isn’t set to the high­est bitch lev­els at all times, espe­cial­ly with any­one who is nice to her. What are this woman’s per­son­al rela­tion­ships like, I won­der?

When I was in 10th grade, a new girl moved to my neigh­bor­hood. We quick­ly became close friends. A few months into our friend­ship, I remem­ber her say­ing some­thing about me and my friends being “so pas­sive.” What? That is not an adjec­tive I had ever imag­ined any­body had ever used in ref­er­ence to me or the peo­ple I hung out with. We were all pret­ty opin­ion­at­ed, intel­li­gent, tal­ent­ed, and most of us were some­what prick­ly in one way or anoth­er. Not door­mats, pushovers, or “pas­sive” peo­ple.

We didn’t fight, which, to her, meant pas­siv­i­ty. I tried to explain that we could dis­agree with­out fight­ing, and knew the dif­fer­ence between debates and argu­ments, but we nev­er did see eye to eye on that issue. I’m sure that a major dif­fer­ence in our fam­i­ly back­grounds had a lot to do with her per­cep­tions. In her fam­i­ly, scream­ing was a dai­ly occur­rence, after which the air was cleared and all was well. In mine, raised voic­es meant phys­i­cal vio­lence. If some­one raised his voice any­where near me, I expect­ed vio­lence, and the whole fight-or-flight thing start­ed. I nev­er con­sid­ered wast­ing ener­gy by yelling back. If she heard yelling, she’d wade right in and yell back fear­less­ly. (I’m pret­ty sure that she wasn’t ever hit in anger, prob­a­bly not ever hit at all by a fam­i­ly mem­ber.)

I’m not going to be friends with some­one who is con­stant­ly pick­ing fights with me or any­one else. I have zero inter­est in argu­ment for the sake of argu­ment. What’s the point? I val­ue my peace too much for that, so com­bat­ive, aggres­sive peo­ple quick­ly get an invi­ta­tion to the world when I encounter them.

I think that friend might relate to Saintcrow’s female char­ac­ters. Valen­tine sure as hell isn’t pas­sive. She can’t man­age assertive, either, though — she’s unhealth­ily aggres­sive.

Comments (5)

I read the first of these books, Work­ing for the Dev­il, and I agree with you that Valen­tine isn’t the most lik­able char­ac­ter, but the main rea­son I didn’t con­tin­ue reading(yet) is my wor­ry that this series will be anoth­er that is nev­er-end­ing, since so many writ­ers of urban fan­ta­sy seem to be imi­tat­ing LKH and see­ing how far they can string their read­ers along with­out any res­o­lu­tions. I sup­pose some peo­ple like that, or soap operas wouldn’t be so pop­u­lar, but I kind of pre­fer that books either work as stand alone nov­els in a series, or that the author wraps things up in 3 – 6 books, at the most.

I’m with you there. If the books of a series stand alone and main­tain my inter­est, that’s good. If you have to read all of them to under­stand what’s going on, that sucks.

I do believe all the Saint­crow stuff is going back to the library. I have oth­er authors I can read with­out near­ly as much frus­tra­tion.

Oh – nice to meet you! I was con­fused as to who you were at first, because we have a friend who goes by “amqueue” or “AMQ” most of the time. Anoth­er Geor­gian, cool!

Thanks! Nice to meet you, too. I’m in Decatur. Small inter­net, eh? =) I guess I’ll just swap the Saint­crow books. It’s not like I don’t have plen­ty to read! I hope this trend of ser­i­al nov­els doesn’t last. I’ve already quit on four or five writ­ers whose worlds and sto­ries I liked, but I lost patience with them. I’ve stopped read­ing Rachel Caine’s Weath­er War­den books, Char­laine Harris’s South­ern Vam­pire books, and I’m unde­cid­ed about Kim Harrison’s Rachel Mor­gan books. I’m two or three books behind and not feel­ing any strong desire to pick up again, even though I loved the first two books.

Yeah, I’m with you there. I don’t think the indus­try agrees with us, though — I just read that one new author was giv­en a con­tract for SIX BOOKS of a new series! Six!

I gave up on the Weath­er War­den books a cou­ple of years ago. I’ve read the most recent South­ern Vam­pire book, but felt like Har­ris was sor­ta done. I hope she doesn’t beat a dead horse. The oth­er new series she start­ed, about Harp­er Con­nel­ly, just didn’t real­ly grab me. I haven’t seen a new vol­ume in over a year, so maybe they didn’t sell well at all.

At least peo­ple do seem to grow and change in the Rachel Mor­gan books — unlike so many oth­er series — but yeah, I think that’s fair­ly “done” as well. I could eas­i­ly see Har­ri­son mov­ing on to focus on oth­er char­ac­ters in that uni­verse, though.

I like the way Kel­ley Arm­strong moves around with her Women of the Oth­er­world series, instead of stick­ing with the same one or two peo­ple as the focus of every book. It’s like a show with an ensem­ble cast, instead of some­thing with one or two stars and a bunch of char­ac­ter actors.

I’ve not read Arm­strong yet, though I do have Bit­ten on the shelf, wait­ing for me to get to it.

I’m not sure I can put my fin­ger on what exact­ly turns me off in these series. I agree that watch­ing a char­ac­ter make the same mis­take over and over is irri­tat­ing, and that if a series moves around dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters for each book, it’s eas­i­er to stay fresh. I think, though, that I just get this sense that the author is both padding, and delib­er­ate­ly putting in things that will have to be resolved lat­er just to make you want to buy the next book, instead of it being impor­tant to the sto­ry you are read­ing or the char­ac­ter devel­op­ment. That doesn’t express it quite as well as I want. I guess I could say that there are only so many cliffhang­ers I’m will­ing to put up with before I get ticked off, par­tic­u­lar­ly if there’s no up-front indi­ca­tion of how many books there are going to be.

I’m still hap­pi­ly read­ing the Har­ry Dres­den books, and the Mer­cy Thomp­son books. My off-the-cuff the­o­ry is that Brig­gs and Butch­er are still writ­ing the nov­els tight enough to work as stand alones. You might not catch every­thing if you start­ed one in the mid­dle, but I think it would be sat­is­fy­ing, in that the prob­lem set up in the begin­ning would be resolved at the end, and the prob­lems ongo­ing or intro­duced wouldn’t be urgent. So to speak. One ele­ment that will turn me off is the ‘Gone With The Wind’ end­ing, where char­ac­ters have a big breakup at the end of the book, and you know there will have to be a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in the next one. I hate that. I hat­ed it in GWTW. I threw the library book across the room.