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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow
Greywalker - Kat Richardson Greywalker starts out really strong with our heroine being beaten to death. Then it meanders for about 200 pages of yawning where several disconnected events fail to interest her (in spite of directly effecting her life) before anything like a cohesive story appears. And then the book ends because it's only 340 pages.

Maybe a 2.5 would be more appropriate. Interesting concept, weak execution. I feel like I can see what Richardson is trying to do instead of just seeing her do it. The pacing is wonky. The dialog could use a lot of work. The characters are underdeveloped.

If you've read anything in the genre, the repeated, not subtle hints about other paranormal creatures are annoying. I mean, I get that she doesn't recognize some of these hints because she doesn't know she's in an urban fantasy novel. That voyage of discovery is conceptually interesting, but doesn't work for me here.

The meandering 200 pages after the first chapter are an introduction for reader into the strangeness of the world by means of having Harper Blaine slowly come to terms with the concept of Grey. Also, it introduces the cast of characters by having each one introduced to Harper. Isn't that great, you and Harper get to experience all the new stuff together! Except for the serious amount of repetition which I have elected to attribute to her recent massive head trauma.

Maybe I can also convince myself that the dialog issues are related to the head trauma? No, no, that would only work if Harper were the sole source of weakness.

When Richardson wants to do an information dump, she elects to do it via a monologue from a character that is cleverly disguised as a dialog where one character's role is to ask leading questions. When she wants to tell you some more of Harper's back story, she has an attractive man ask Harper to tell him about herself. These are both actually less cumbersome than some of the later conversations where the subtext is the text.

The dialog issues highlight the larger problem I have with the book. The characters don't feel at all like people. Especially Harper. I know she drinks a lot of coffee and owns a ferret. That isn't a lot given the entire book is from her POV. I should have a much better feel for her. For instance, I would like to know why the hell this woman doesn't have any friends. She doesn't contact or even think about any person in all of Seattle that she was already friends with, and the only people she even references having known before are professional contacts like a locksmith that she's used before and an honest cop (neither of whom get names). This is the kind of thing my brain does when you put it in idle for 200 pages. Well, that and contemplate David Tennant in eyeliner and not much else so it's not all bad.

All that said, it still had some likeable qualities. Harper doesn't fall into the typical romance tropes so common to UF, which is down right refreshing. Also, her pivotal role in the final climactic battle is comedy genius and a refreshing change from the typical "suddenly able to hit harder than ever before" role I'm so tired of. At some point I'll probably pick up the second one and hope Richardson's improved with a bit more experience.