Sunday, June 6, 2010

A lesson in fangirlism

I will be the first to admit that I’m not the fastest reader.

(This should make the whole challenge a little harder, but whatevs. They don’t call it a challenge for anything).

Anyways, especially when a book is dry or not as interesting, it can take me many weeks to get through it. Daywatch, I’m looking at you. However, there are a couple of different series that I have no problem in devouring.

The Mercy Thompson novels fit the latter category to a T.

It is a credit to Patricia Brigg’s way with words and with characters that makes for a fast read without making me feel trashy or dirty after finishing it. This is a book that I have no problem with reading on the bus or taking out in public--yes, I am a book snob. So sue me. That's why we have e-readers now.

It’s also a credit, and here is the big part, to make a female character and a series that after 5 books, has yet to stale and fall back on traditional or old plot lines--something that seems to allude some modern fantasy writers as of late.

After 5 books she has introduced many different characters, species, powers and plots, all of which that work in context with the world and never really feel like a re-hashed version of the book beforehand.

Now, I won’t say I’m an expert at the chick lit--well, chick lead modern fantasy sub-genre (that Felicia Day so epicly dubbed vaginal fantasy) but it tends to be my number one genre of choice for the last...oh, seven years or so? (side note: Holy crap, I’m getting old.) So, I do think I can safely say that I have developed an opinion on such matters and I will say that the Mercy Thompson novels should easily be on the top of anyone who’s into the genre.

Background on the novels: you have Mercy Thompson, a shapeshifter coyote who grew up in a werewolf pack--something typically unheard of (think of the actual creatures and then get back to me). She’s a mechanic and works in the fictional world of the Tri-cities and with each book generally gets her ass in trouble and has to save herself and usually others.

One of the easy mistakes in the creation of any female character I believe is to have her be a typical Mary Sue and bat her long eyelashes at our tall dark and handsome love interest for generally 50% of the book. And sure, Briggs does not mind giving us a couple of different guys to fit that latter category (don’t worry, there was a while there that I was afraid that EVERYONE was gonna be in love with Mercy, but it was something that never panned out), however it is never the main attraction of the book and like Kelley Armstrong, she manages to give it a nice balance, developing healthy relationships, that like the ones in real life are flawed but work because both parties are treated as equals.

There is an ease that Briggs manages with her writing and her books flow nicely, not giving away too much that you can guess the ending by the end of the second chapter but again, she doesn’t dwell on unnecessary details. There isn't too much try in these books, everything flows naturally and easily. There are sub-plots and well rounded secondary characters and we don’t spend the first five chapters re-living the previous book, although major plot points that relate to the current story are brought up for new readers. There’s a snappiness to the series that is refreshing.

I could and should probably get into what the story is about, but honestly I urge anyone who has the least bit of interest in this type of series to go to the beginning and pick up book one, Moon Called. I may be hyping this up too much, but honestly I go through these like fat kids with smarties.

Sure, this may be dessert and it won’t be winning any prestigious awards anytime soon, but at least it’s the type of dessert that I can feel good about. Briggs doesn’t give me a deep fried Snickers, something that’s overly sweet and generally will leave me feel disgusting afterwards.

This is more like frozen yogurt--but the good stuff that doesn’t taste like low fat, no sugar added, lame-why-did-I-even-bother-frozen yogurt. You’re still having your dessert but at least you don’t feel so guilty the next morning.

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