Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dance of the Gods, pt. 1

by Nora Roberts
pgs. 1-124

Dance of the Gods is the second book in the Nora Roberts Circle trilogy. Like many of the popular new romance writers on the market today, Roberts has apparently decided to try her hand at the dark vampire romance genre. And, like most of the reviewers on, I have decided that Roberts should stick with what she does best and leave the paranormal romance writing to such heavyweights as Christine Feehan, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Angela Roberts, just to name a small few.

Roberts is well-known for her prolific writing. In fact, she has so many books on the market today under her own name and under her psudonym J.D. Robb that her new books come with a special logo so that fans don’t confuse them with books she’s already published. I myself have been a long-time Roberts fan which is perhaps why her characters are beginning to seem as if they have less depth than they did in earlier writing. The characters in The Circle Trilogy are a prime example.

I want to like these characters. I want to empathize with these characters. I want to care what happens to these characters. But I don’t, not really. I seems as if Roberts is so out of her depth in this area that she concentrates so hard on making the vampires and the goddesses, and the witches, and the sorcerers, and the shape-shifters seem plausible that she leaves herself little time to work on that little thing called “character development.” These characters are so flat they border on being just plain boring. As a reader, I’m on the outside looking in when where I should be, is on he inside looking about. Simply put, thus far, The Circle Trilogy lacks the main draw of her other books, which has always been the strength of her character’s personalities.

I guess, by now you’re asking why I’m even bothering to read the second installment of a disappointing trilogy. Why didn’t I just stop after the first book Morrigan’s Cross? Because, damnit, I’m curious. The story isn’t bad – it’s Nora Roberts, after all – it’s just lacking her usual sure hand. Besides that, the only character I’m really curious about is Cian, who’s story isn’t told until the last book Valley of Silence. Unfortunately, I have to get through Dance of the Gods before my curiosity is satisfied. It isn’t a trial but it isn’t the most pleasurable reading either.

The story is essentially: blah, blah, fight, blah, blah, fight some more, sex, blah, blah, fall in love, fight, some more blah, blah, the end. Well, I haven’t made it to the end yet but it’s the pattern Morrigan’s Cross followed and it’s the same pattern Dance of the Gods seems to be following pretty well. I stopped in the middle some blah, blah between Larkin, the shape-shifter, and Blair, the Eve Dallas-derivative (see J.D. Robb’s In Death series) to write this installment. I guess I’ll get back to it now. I sense some sex on the horizon, which will probably be just as bland as the characters. That was mean, wasn’t it? I don’t take it back.

The Story of Me, pt. 1

by J.S. Peyton
pgs. 1-3

It's discouraging to discover that what I am doing, or rather in this case, what I have only just started trying to do is already being done by someone else. Not only that, but that someone else is doing it much better than I could ever do it. I have no illusions that my little book blog is in no way one of a kind. After all, there is no shortage of opinions in the world and a quick navigation to will reveal that there are a plethora of people only-too eager to share their opinion on books with the world. And then there are the professional critics who make a living, however wanting, offering their studied criticism up for consumption in stately publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.

But I had hoped that, even if certain elements of my blog couldn't be original, at least my unique combination of such elements would be. Sigh, no such luck. Only yesterday, as I'm browsing in Olsson's, a D.C.-based indie bookstore, I come across Housekeeping vs. The Dirt: Fourteen Months of Massively Witty Adventures in Reading by Nick Hornby. Shit. But I don't really like Nick Hornby. His book How to Be Good was one of the few books I never bothered to finish and I gladly gave it away to a used bookstore, which is something I never do. This book, however, is a collection of essays and every writer deserves a second chance, I figure. So I open it up and what do I see? He has, at the beginning of every section, a list of books he bought and of books he read for every month of 2005.

Double shit. It is at this point that I realize that I am essentially holding my blog, in print, written by an author who, as the cover his book so kindly tells me, was the National Book Critics Circle finalist for criticism. Great. Just great. Disgusted, I went to buy it and then realized that I didn't have any money. Even more disgusted (I get testy when I can't afford to buy books), I returned to my apartment in a piss-poor mood, talked dispassionately on the phone for a while, then rouded out the night by burying my nose in a book until finally, I dozed off.

Today, I have just returned from Kramerbooks, another fabulous indie bookstore, where I bought, unethusiastically, Hornby's book, in addition to Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan (another obsessive reader), and Empires of the World: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler. I bought the first two, because even as it depresses me by reminding me of how unoriginal and inexperienced I really am, maybe, please God, I'll learn a thing or two. Perhaps by reading the masters, I'll learn how to write like one.