Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Discovery of Witches

book review thursday

book review thursday A Discovery of Witches is a perfect example of not judging books by their cover. I stumbled across the novel when I was setting up an account on goodreads (something I'm still exploring). The cover, and title, immediately drew me in. Based on the description of the plot, I got the impression that this was a novel similar to The Historian. While reading it, I decided that it did remind me of The Historian- but not the pleasant aspects of it. The boring descriptions, the initial sense of removal from the characters, and the precocious nature of the author all are the same.

After reading the author's blurb on goodreads, I decided that this desire to seem intelligence isn't my imagination. The author has virtually placed herself in the novel with a vampire boyfriend. The author and main characters were at one point in time theater majors before they changed to history, then finally settling on a history of sciences, and finally, a college professor. While I think that all authors put aspects of themselves into what they write, this was a bit disturbing. It's almost like reading the author's personal fantasies. What the book reminded me of the most, unfortunately, is the Twilight saga, with the addition of desperation to seem smart. Overall, it was less than engaging.

You're thrown into this alternate world without any senblence of preamble, and even after finishing the book, I was still incredibly confused as to what the hell a daemon even was. There was no real explanation of any of the creatures powers, other than in Diana's brief, sycophantic conversations with her boy toy. At least in the Twilight saga you know the depths of the world that Stephanie Meyer has created. I just wound up confused while reading this. It's almost as if the author starts to explain, and then veers off in another direction whenever she gets close to hashing out this alternate universe. This is particularly frustrating as the very definition of the creatures is an essential plot point.

Yet another irritating portion of the book was the constant references to the main character's overabundance of adrenaline. Of course, this is supposed to make her extra-tasty to her dangerous yet caring vampire boy toy, but all it made me wonder was how the hell she would have survived thirty something years without keeling over from all of those ridiculous hormones. I may not be a scientist, or a doctor, but even I know that running around isn't going to alleviate a hormonal imbalance of that magnitude. The least the author could have done is put her on some damned medication.

The author also devolves into boring ramblings about topics which do not move the novel forward in the least bit. There are frequent lengthy descriptions of food, meditation, and other off topic subjects that do not serve to move the plot forward, develop the world, or explain the characters. They seem to be only there for the author to fill up space and drool over wine she wishes to drink.

I repeat, this book is worse than Twilight. At least Twilight had the decency to admit it was romantic drivel. The series was specifically for fluff and enjoyment. This book attempts to demonstrate intense intelligence, but ended up with the same end. Ridiculous relationships that are hardly realistic or healthy. Why does every vampire have to go through the "I'm so dangerous, get away!" stage. And why do the women always have to give in to whatever demands their boy toy is making without a fight, all while claiming to be independent women? Diana starts out admirable, but ends as a miserable, pathetic mess that only cares about her "speshul snowflake" love with Matthew. Edward, and Matthew both act without any consideration towards their significant others thoughts or feelings. It's an incredibly chauvinistic view, and something that I find appalling in this day and age. When I read romances like that, I have zero empathy, and the authors lose my interest completely. "Oh yeah, btw, we're married now. You don't get a say in this!" Yeah, no.

To top it all off, the book ends without and sense of resolution. The plot was rather lacking to begin with- it was often difficult to realize that something happened other than Diana drooling over Matthew, so when there was no even attempt at a wrap up, I liked the book even less. While I understand the urge for cliffhangers, there's still a way to engage that tactic and still give consolation to the readers. Overall, definitely not my first choice. I think this would be great for the 13 and 14 year old girls who are at that peak age of know-it-all attitude once they've tackled Twilight. I just wish this novel had been more clear about it's role. It's fluff, nothing more than that, and it greatly disappointed me that it tried to me something else. I'm not against fluff for fluff's sake, or Twilight for that matter. I think they have their time and place. This just didn't cut it for me as anything more than, well, silly fantasies.

The only thing I can credit the author for was that I was actually interested in what was going on with the world she created. I still want to know the answers to the various mysteries that the author introduced at the very beginning of the novel that got shoved aside when Diana found her "true love". It was a really interesting concept that got lost in the paranormal romance genre, which is disappointing to say the least.

(2/5 stars)