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don't so much bring the character to life but rather feel like you're being forced to listen to someone endlessly talking ...
on January 24, 2018
"Darkfever" is almost an object lesson in how NOT to insert detailed character descriptions into a story. The many rambling digressions into the main character's preferences regarding, drinking water, music, accessories, apparel, makeup, etc., don't so much bring the character to life but rather feel like you're being forced to listen to someone endlessly talking about herself.
There's a short lecture about why books are better than movies that left me—a reader of a book—feeling like I was getting an unnecessary lecture. She even takes time to throws shade at a Harry Potter adaptation without any specific criticism of how exactly the movie got Fleur Delacour wrong. But why is it even there to make me wonder?
Being as the plot barely advances in this story—I'm guessing that it's mostly set up for the subsequent books?—mostly this book is about setting the style and characters, and it does so very poorly.
One of the biggest flaws is that the characters' speech patterns are all uniform, with the same wiseacre sarcasm. A centuries-old supernatural being tends to speak with the same style as a 20-something from Georgia.
The story is mostly set in Dublin, but from reading the book, one begins to wonder whether the author has actually been in Dublin, or even anywhere outside the United States. The descriptions just don't feel genuine, especially when the author seems to confuse Irish and Scottish cultural features, such as the word "haver."
I came up with a drinking game. Drink every time:
1. The main character mentions her iPod and how wonderful it is. Wow, what a cool gadget! It's so .... dating. Or other outdated terms like "camera phone" or "Ask Jeeves"
2. The main character remarks on her own hotness ... yes, she sure is hot. She actually says at one point "I might never manage ugly ..."
3. The main character admires her own breasts, or someone else's breasts, or mentions breasts. ... BREASTS, BREASTS, BREASTS!!! Sure, I love breasts, but, come on
4. Speaking of which, a female character views female bodies through seemingly male eyes, like a detail like this: "I love to eat. Fortunately, it doesn't show. I'm healthy through the bust and bottom, but slim through the waist and thighs."
5. There's some kind of cultural knowledge error, like referring to Louis Armstrong on a playlist of "one-hit wonders." Or writing dialogue that sound like an American failing to pretend to be Irish, or thinking that the "paranormal craze" began with Harry Potter (and then mentioning Lestat—so you know there was at least one paranormal craze before Harry Potter, right?)
6. Cliched locutions, such as "from (soup) to (nuts)," "but that's neither here nor there," "drop-dead gorgeous," "worth his salt"
7. "Sedan" — come on, who says "sedan" in conversation except a car salesman? Especially "late-model sedan"
8. Unnecessary detail regarding the make and model of a fancy vehicle, or other unnecessary references to brand names, like a Juicy purse
9. Strange references to ethnicity, and weirdly racist sounding references to different kinds of white people. A character is a "darkly exotic half-Basque, half-Pict." How is that exotic, exactly? Isn't that just a white guy? And how is that noticeably different from anyone else in Ireland? "Spanish or Melungeon blood" Drink to weirdly outdated racism!
10. Unnecessary character detail at odd points, such as how exactly the character prefers to eat her french-fried potatoes when she's about to see a supernatural creature for the first time
11. Just strange phrases, as if they are commonly used, like the "rear conversation area" of a bookstore (several references), or the "rear index" of a book. You mean the index? Who calls it a "rear index"
12. A fixation on sex without actually being sexy, and a woman's value is in her physical beauty as a prize for a man
13. An unnecessary digressive lecture, such as about the "entitlement generation" or about Southern ladies and gentlemen