Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dresden Files: Storm Front

book review thursday

book review thursday After finishing Before Versailles, I immediately jumped into a book that had been in the periphery of my reading queue for ages. The first time I had heard of the Dresden Files was in an art class during my senior year of high school. One of the girls there was absolutely phenomenal at art. It didn't matter the media, she was just utterly fabulous. She was also that sort of self-assured geek that proudly declared her interests.

Naturally, I spent most of my time idolizing her.

At any rate, when I wasn't terrorizing my other friends in that class, I'd often listen to her talk to one of her friends about the various television shows and books that they love. Of the many things they talked about, all I can really remember now is Doctor Who, Dresden Files, and Death Note (apparently words that start with a "D" are memorable). I've since gone on to adore Doctor Who, though I'm sadly, not caught up on the current season, nor have I seen the older episodes. When I went to explore Dresden Files, I wound up stumbling across the short lived TV show first.

The TV is everything I like in a show- just cheesy enough to be silly, not dramatic enough to be ridiculous, and with a great sense of humor while still being able to carry a serious story. Sadly, it was cancelled after one season. And that was the end to my experience with the Dresden Files, at least for a few years.

A few months ago, when I was first exploring the overdrive website for my local libraries, I stumbled across the first book of the series, Storm Front. Without giving it much thought, I added it to my hold section and went on my merry way. A few weeks ago, I was able to download the book and pushed it to the side, as a reward for finishing the slog that was Before Versailles. When Monkey brought up the series a short while later after stumbling it in his now monthly search for new, nerdy obsessions, I became even more excited.

All that led to extremely high expectations when I started actually listening to the book. It didn't hurt that James Marsters, aka Spike from Buffy, was the narrator. Normally, you know where high expectations lead me, right? Disappointment. For once, this wasn't the case. There are a few, small nitpicky things about the audiobook that I didn't like. But the book itself? Utterly fabulous. It's like every great detective movie that plays on Turner Classic Movies, but with supernatural elements. Harry Dresden, the lone hero, trying to understand dual mysteries, escape trouble at every corner, and avoid his supposed fate. All while including a dry wit and great inner dialogue. The way the author incorporated magic was utterly fabulous. It was believable, easy to understand, yet still mysterious. I also really loved how he took the quintessential mystery plot- two, unrelated cases suddenly become interconnected- but did it in a believable, interesting way. Every time I read or watch a plot like that, I think of the movie "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" with Robert Downey Jr., one of my favorite movies of all time. This is the supernatural book equivalent to that movie, with sarcasm and an unlucky narrator to book. Utterly fabulous. While the writing was a bit cliche, the book was still immensely enjoyable, and it was a great start to a series. If, as I've heard, the author's writing matures as the series goes on (I believe he started this book while in college), then the series will be more than awesome- it'll be amazing.

The audiobook, on the other hand? Oh dear. First off, I don't think James Marsters is a bad narrator. In fact, I think he's rather good. He does sound a bit inexperienced though, and the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. There are parts of the novel that jump in volume, for no apparent reasons. Marsters's voice is great for this kind of protagonist, and not what I was expecting at all. While I'm not too sold on his voices for women, they don't take me out of the story at all, which is more than I can say for many narrators. What does jar me out of the story is the stupid "please change disks now" voice at the end of each segment, said by another person. Since this is a library copy, I'm not surprised, but at the same time, it's incredibly offputting. I'm glad I never was interested in audiobooks while they were on tape or CD. I'm hoping that as the series progresses, the audiobook quality improves. I really enjoy listening to Marsters, so I have no intention of switching to e-reader or hard copy format.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes the SciFi channel, or televisions shows like Castle, or really, anyone. I think it was a great start to a series, and I loved all of the characters. I can't wait to listen to the next book! And until then, here's a preview of the utterly fabulous Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

(4/5 stars)