So, readers-mine, I rarely rant, but I need to get out my soap box for a minute because reading some online posts have made me feel like I’m smacking my head against a wall. Yes, yes…internet trolls are annoying, but I actually don’t mean the ones who are being deliberate asshats. I’m actually talking about the people who rant partially in CAPS or argue incoherently about something they feel passionately, but haven’t logically thought through.
I’ve been reading some reviews that people have done and I thought that I would address some of the topics because some of the discussion seems inane and others are valid points. Either way, I found myself frustrated. So, sorry in advance for the rant.
For those who don’t know, I love these books and adore the way Michelle Sagara interacts with her readers. That said, I’m totally fine with people disagreeing with my thoughts on things. You can love them, you can hate them, you can be totally annoyed by them. You can feel the need to throttle characters I adore and adore characters that make me want to scream at the heavens. However, no matter who you are or how you feel about something, you cannot try to argue about books you have not read, make absolute judgements about how things will end while the author is still writing that ending, and/or argue without any trace of logic or thought. I mean, you can, but you can’t expect me to value your opinion in that case. Sorry. I tend to like evidence in my arguments.
Now, to the actual bits that bother me.
Character Growth & Timeline:
Yes, character growth is an incremental process in this series, but that makes sense. The books pick up the next day or a couple of days one after the other. I don’t know about about you, but the difference for me between noon on Monday and noon on Wednesday isn’t huge–even with major events that I’m still processing–because I am still me. That said, the characters do grow and if you look at any of them from book one to book ten, they are very different people. I mean, let’s be honest, if you live in a war zone, which the characters essentially do, the sum of their experiences over months or years are going to force them to grow and change. Sometimes, the experiences will make them fundamentally different people, but most of the time, they’re going to grow gradually. Just because these books are fiction, does not mean the characters should go from zero to ninety on understanding each other and themselves in a two month period. I mean, really, the way you deal with things is dependent on your past experiences and the way in which you grew/changed from those experiences over time. If we had a whole series of Mary Sues it would be terribly boring.
Fantasy Novel vs. Romance Novel:
These novels are, in fact, a combination of urban fantasy, cop procedural, and mystery. They are not a bodice ripper romance novel. People who are looking for that and complaining about the lack of sex scenes or romantic tension, really don’t get the point. There’s a reason it is only Kaylin on the cover of each book and not Kaylin half-dressed with a semi-naked Severn or Nightshade. If you want a bodice ripper romance or erotica, you’re reading the wrong series. And frankly, if she did get it on with either Severn or Nightshade, she would hate herself in the morning and we’d be back to square one. Kaylin needs to accept herself before she can accept someone else. Friends have been a gradual thing for her, why would anybody think romance would be any different?
People seem to go back and forth on with this series is if Kaylin should be with Nightshade or Severn. Some people want one character or the other to die, but I’d go so far as to say that these people haven’t really been paying attention. This one doesn’t annoy me really–unless they’re going Twilight on it–so much as I have an opinion on the topic.
There’s a scene in the first book that kind of sums it all up for me. Kaylin is surrounded by fire and pulled into danger. When everything stops, she finds Nightshade holding one hand and Severn holding the other, acting as anchors so she doesn’t fall. Yes, they are different men. Yes, they are both strokes of light and shadow. Yes, they are both keeping things from her. However, Kaylin needs both of them. She wants to protect, and sometimes kill, both of them. They are both from a past she doesn’t want to remember and struggles to accept. To me, the more important thing isn’t how they feel about her–though they both clearly have strong emotions–the real issue is will she come to terms with her past and allow herself to think of a future. If/when she is able to that, she’ll make one of four choices: friendship with both, romance with both, friendship with one and romance with the other, or to leave them both behind in order to protect them. No matter what, suggesting that one or the other take a long walk off a short pier makes no sense as both act as her supports, protectors, and guides. Once again, I’ll state that these are not romance novels. If anything, they are coming of age tales with an emphasis on relationships between a person and themselves, a family of choice, friends, enemies, and outsiders. If you don’t want to see the layers, this series is not for you.
Yes, Kaylin swears. In languages that don’t translate into English for the most part. As in, the vast majority aren’t even written on the page. Why complain about the amount of swearing in a book where the swears are implied? I mean, truly, this is what you worry about? I’m too worried about the characters facing life-threatening situations. Frankly, if I were facing an angry Dragon that is trying to destroy my city and eat me personally, I would probably be swearing too. I just don’t understand this one. Please, explain it to me if you have an idea on it. Swearing, implied or otherwise, seems like a valid reaction to the situations they get thrown in to. If they don’t to you, please let me know why. Also, swearing in a review where you’re mad about implied swearing just makes me blink at you. Sorry.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you’re going to comment on a series of books, you should have read what you are writing about. Ways I can tell you haven’t read/don’t pay attention to details in this particular series:
- You can’t spell the main character’s name
- You mis-title the book you are writing about
- You have the wrong book’s cover image with your review and you placed it there, not whatever program or platform you’re using.
- You don’t know the differences between the races or why they matter.
- You clearly have no idea who the characters are or if they are good, bad, shades of grey, friends, enemies, or frenemies.
- You apparently have no idea what the author’s name is.
- You think the protagonist is a man.
- You write in ALL CAPS because you’re a troll.
- You are writing about events that never happened in the series and get annoyed when people point out to you that you are probably writing about a different series and then ask politely what it is because they’re curious and now want to read said mistaken event series.
- You get pissed if someone has a different opinion than you. Opinions are awesome. They are part of what makes me different from pretty much all of my closest friends. Why would that be offensive?
Air in. Air out. That was longer than I expected. Hopefully, someone finds this amusing or you can relate in some way, shape, or form, readers-mine. I just needed to let a literary/teachery argue-with-evidence rant out of my head and onto the virtual page.
Have you guys ran into these issues with other things? I don’t often read reviews/argumentative forum boards at this point in my life and I kind of feel like the ones I used to read were peopled mostly by geeks like me who required facts/evidence and general respect/politeness to the other people on the board. Considering everything I’ve read on Sagara’s actual social media and how her fans react and treat each other with such respect and care, it made me wonder why non-fans would actually take the time to spread negativity. Then I thought about all the people who say horrible things about people over social media, start rumors, or anonymously post hurtful things places. It made me a bit sad. Then I felt old. Then I was simply frustrated. So, thank you for reading and if you respond, thanks in advance for that. Just, please remember, kindness and love, people. Kindness and love.