Monday, September 29, 2014

Midnight Blue-Light Special and Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire

Midnight Blue-Light Special (the second InCryptid novel)
by Seanan McGuire

Format: ebook

Publisher: DAW (March 5, 2013)
Copyright: 2013
Pages:  368

Genre: Adult - Urban fantasy

Source: purchased

Summary from Amazon:
The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and to protect humanity from them. Verity Price is just trying to do her job, keeping the native cryptid population of Manhattan from getting into trouble, and doing a little ballroom dancing on the side. Enter Dominic De Luca, an operative for the Covenant of St. George, and Verity's on-again, off-again boyfriend. When he tells her that the Covenant is sending a full team to assess how ready the city is for a purge, Verity finds herself between a rock and a hard place. Stay, and risk her almost-certain death, or flee, and leave the cryptids of New York with nothing between them and the Covenant.

With allies and enemies on every side, and no safe way to turn, it's going to take some quickstepping for Verity to waltz out of this one. There's just one question on everyone's mind: Is this the last dance for Verity Price?

So ... I enjoyed the first book enough that I purchased both the second and third in one optimistic go. But this time around I ran into problems right away. Anyone paying any sort of attention has known since the last book that there was going to be a conflict between the Covenant and Verity Price, this was telegraphed from almost the beginning of the first book.  Also telegraphed was the fact that Dominic was either going to have to choose sides (or opt to flee from both sides, which actually seems to be a semi-reasonable option). So why were Dominic and Verity acting like this was a surprise? Worse - a surprise with getting into forty snit-fits over?  I could understand them avoiding thinking about it, but you would have to be all kinds of stupid to think that this conflict wasn't coming.  So the way things were laid out at the beginning felt awkward, author-manipulated and frankly dumb.

So - not a fun run this time.  Instead we get teenaged angst and pouty foot stomping. Things finally start hitting their stride when - well I can't tell you what happened since that would be a spoiler. I will just say that my suspension of disbelief was broken beyond repair - it was just completely unbelievable. Plus Verity turns into a naked Terminator type for a while. I just kept thinking a) you have got to be kidding me and b) well that was gratuitous.

Finally, the resolution was very, um ..., unsatisfying. All that buildup, all that angst, all that drama and this is how it falls out ??? Hrumph. 

So - disappointing for me. The first book was fun and silly. The second book takes itself way too seriously.  Obviously YMMV - I know that several people liked this better than the first one, but I don't understand why.  

However ... since I already had the next book and I knew that it didn't feature Verity but her brother Alex... I read it anyhow. (I am not sure that I would have purchased it if I had finished this one first.) 

Half-Off Ragnarok (the third InCryptid novel) 
by Seanan McGuire 

Format: ebook
Publisher: DAW; 1 edition (March 4, 2014)
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 368

Genre: Adult - Urban fantasy

Source: purchased  

Summary from Amazon:
What do gorgons, basilisks, and frogs with feathers all have in common? They're all considered mythological by modern science, and some people are working very hard to keep them that way. Alexander Price is a member of a cryptozoological lineage that spans generations, and it's his job to act as a buffer between the human and cryptid worlds—not an easy task when you're dealing with women who has snakes in place of hair, little girls who may actually be cobras, and brilliant, beautiful Australian zookeepers. And then there's the matter of the murders... 

Alex thought he was choosing the easier career when he decided to specialize in non-urban cryptids, leaving the cities to his little sister, Verity. He had no idea what he was letting himself in for. It's a family affair, and everyone—from his reanimated grandfather to his slightly broken telepathic cousin—is going to find themselves drawn in before things get any better. 

So - this time the lead character is Verity's older brother Alex. He is, well the best analogy I can come up with is that he is Clark Kent - down to the glasses and wardrobe. Vanilla all the way down. The problem is that we seem to be missing the Supercryptozoologist side. His secret identity as part of the amazing Price family was distinctly lacking - well with the exception of just blowing into dangerous situations with the sum total plan of "I'm gonna do something dangerous and possibly even suicidal because I have too 'cause I am a Price and there really is no need to think it through or have any sort of plan" - which Verity does too. This is really too bad because as far as I know there are not a lot of urban fantasy books out there that star a male character.

We also have the obligate pairing of characters - suddenly and for no really believable reason Alex discovers he is in looove. Sigh. This was annoying with Verity and occasionally boarders on insufferable here.

On the plus side, I did enjoy the book more than the second one - it had more of the lighter fun feeling like the first book, but mostly I was - well - bored.  It just okay.  The only reason I might read the next book is to find out what happens to one particular character.  

I am really bummed here - I love the world building, the cryptids and the idea of Indiana Jones style
cryptozoologists. Anyone remember The Secret Saturdays cartoon ? That was kinda the vibe I got from the first book and I was hoping it would keep going in that direction. I wanted to love these books and instead, well - nope - it isn't thrilling me. Like I said - I still might get book four too see what happens to a character that has been in all the books and took a hit in book two that is still unresolved but I am deeply suspicious that the only 'resolution' we are going to get is who they are going to hook up with. Sigh.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! I do read all of the comments and want to let you know that I really appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to leave a note. Work has fallen in on me and I have not had enough time to reply coherently lately so I apologize preemptively but still want to assure you that your comments are valued. I am using comment moderation to avoid using more annoying spam avoidance. Thanks for your patience.