Review watch 9: all three
July 23rd 2011
It’s about time I rounded up the non-Amazon reviews (though I would direct your attention to a couple of the more recent ones on the .co.uk site…)
Two reviewers have read all three and reviewed all three in the same blog post, which indeed makes sense. Considering the books in the round, does the series make sense? Is there a story arc that travels throughout? Does all the swearing and explosions get a bit samey after a while? Is there a law of diminishing returns?
Not according to Usagi, who not only loves the Petrovitch (“I’d totally date Petrovitch. In a heartbeat.”) but, after some (possibly accurate) criticism of my writing style from other reviewers – no, I don’t want you to have to reach for the dictionary every other sentence, and no, I’m not a great prose stylist like m’friend Chaz Brenchley (who I love – both him and his books) – says this:
“I think the best part about Sam as a character and Morden as an author is that you really live through Sam’s eyes the entire trilogy. You’re right there with him, right there next to him, inside of his head. This means everything – from his stuttering heart in the first book, to his broken heart over Maddy by the third book. You see, think, feel, smell, touch everything he does. Morden is a master with sensory language and the amount of showing over telling is overwhelmingly, joyously tipped in the “showing” direction – automatically making me love Morden. It’s so hard to do that, and doing that in a sci-fi genre book/series is even harder. I tip my hat in major respect for him being able to do that.”
That’s really quite lovely. And to continue the theme, Holly at Books for One has other nice things to say. She spots that I’ve actually written a character-driven SF series. SF is not renowned for its production of full-rounded characters, and yes, it often eschews character development for gadget-strewn, plot-heavy shininess (which I do enjoy, but sometimes it’d be nice to have people I care about in all the shenanigans). She finds Petrovitch’s determination “endearing” and is completely on-side the whole time, despite his anti-hero tendencies.
It has been pointed out that there are a lot of strong female characters. I didn’t consciously mean it to turn out that way, but that’s what organically evolved. Here’s what Holly says about some of them:
“There’s Valentina, a true Soviet communist to her red core and demolitions expert. Lucy, the schoolgirl found hiding in a bathtub from the outies who saves his life more than once. And of course Madeleine, the amazonian, Catholic trained bodyguard who does things to Petrovitch’s synthetic heart that has nothing to do with the fact it’s constantly malfunctioning. I adored all of these guys, they were all useful fully realised people, no extra bits of skirt who are only good for the hero to perv over in these stories…”
She concludes: “If you’re looking for something clever, fast paced and exhilarating then you can’t do much better than these three books. In Communist Russia book reads you.” Happy author is happy.