Snarkling Clean

Snarkling Clean- because you don't have to cuss to make fun of stuff. Two dedicated readers discuss romance novels- from what made us weep with joy to what made us want to poke pencils through our eyeballs.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Grrr, the Sequel

I read the sequel to Adams and Clamp's book Hunter's Moon. (See post below.) The book is called Moon's Web, and it ticked me off.

Not the book itself; for an urban fantasy it's really good. I won't go into the plot points, but basically Tony has a meteoric rise through the ranks of the Sazi (werepeople) and kills bad guys while maintaining his own badness. I did like the world building, and the Sazi could provide books from now until the end of recorded time. Which is apparently the plan, as I understand there are several more books on the Sazi published.

Tony is in danger of being Mary Sue'd, and I'd prefer that he were maybe a tad less competent and speshul (he has powers no one else does,) but I still enjoyed his POV. I absolutely liked this character. It is told in first person again, something I normally don't go for, and it didn't quite work as well as in the first. One nitpick- I hope the authors don't continue with his identifying every single emotion people feel with a scent. I swear, even if a person has four different emotions in one paragraph, they are all described in that paragraph. And practically no emotion ever felt by anyone is just told, it must be associated with the proper smell. That got annoying. Fear smells like this, jealousy smells like this, anger smells like this, I GOT IT. I GOT THE CONCEPT. It was cool in the first book, but once we get the idea perhaps a smattering of scents would serve. Just sayin.

Here's what burned my biscuits. The first book is published by Tor Romance. Says so, right on the spine. And in the pages? Romance. I've been reading them since I was a teenager and I know romance when I see it. The first book centered, primarily, on the relationship between Tony and Sue. It was about them. Beyond a Happily Ever After, or even a Hopefully Ever After, a romance is about the relationship.

This book, the sequel, is also published by Tor Romance, and identified on the spine as a romance. Sue is barely in the book. Tony thinks about her a lot, deals with the pain of needing her on a psychic level (a function of the Sazi mating thing) and she is way important in his mind, but we don't have very many scenes featuring them both. Maybe this is where the first person falls down; since he doesn't have a lot of contact with her, we can't see her understanding of things at all. Most of the book is about Tony and the Sazi hierarchy. There are something like fifteen new characters he deals with, and Sue is relegated to sitting in the apartment until the last battle. It does end well, but Moon's Web is Not. A. Romance. Not by my definition, and not by the standards set in the first book.

Not that it's bad; as I said, it is a good urban fantasy. But I felt cheated, ripped off. I was looking forward to seeing how Sue was going to grow, how she and Tony were going to deal together with his enormous life changes. They don't. He deals with everything by himself. This book isn't about them, it's about him. And that is not a romance.

I know I am not the first reader to bring up this particular point- one of the Ja(y)nes at Dear did a righteous rant on books that are marketed as romance being rather a story with romantic overtones. As I understand the debate over What Constitutes Romance, the SF/Fantasy romances in particular are under fire for just this sort of thing. My opinion, for what it's worth: I have read some wonderful fantasy books that had a good, satisfying romance in them. Even if the story was primarily about the couple and the relationship, if it was not marketed as a romance a less than happy ending wouldn't throw me. But if I pick up a book that is already pigeon-holed as a romance, I'm going to have certain expectations. Chief among them- an ending that is at least hopeful if not happy, and no matter what other things are going on in the story the primary focus is going to be on the relationship of the hero and heroine. And I trust that theme is going to be carried out in sequels, whether the protags become secondary characters and the sidekicks come to the fore or not.

I was very disappointed. I will probably read the other Sazi books, Tony's stories or others, but I'll be forewarned this time.


Blogger StarvingWriteNow said...

Hmm... maybe it's a narcissistic romance?

Your summary/points definitely make a case--that book sounds about as romantic as contemplating one's navel.

(BTW I told my son to go do that; he's like, huh?) These young whippersnappers...

3:36 PM  
Blogger Missie said...

Ha! a Narcissisissy, sistic, whatever. That's funny.

I love me. No, I love me! No, I love me, not you!

(please someone take away my keyboard and my caffeine.)

(oh, and my kids.)

3:54 PM  
Anonymous spyscribbler said...

I hate that! I wonder if they're trying to take advantage of the fact that romance sells better. Marketing and covers and labelling seem to be less about honesty and more about lying to the reader to get them to buy a book. Annoying!!!!

And LOLOL about contemplating one's navel.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

Thank you. One of my mom's favorite sayings. I would contemplate my navel now except I can't find it.

I love me too, Missie!

Spy, I've wondered the same thing myself. It's not like I won't cross the aisle if I want a good fantasy. Sheesh.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Bernita said...

So, it's romantic - in spots - but not romance?
Or should that be it's a romance, but not romantic?
Nevermind, I get you.

4:24 AM  

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