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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Dead to Me / Anton Strout

Dead To Me - Anton Strout

Psychometry-the power to touch an object and divine information about its history-has meant a life of petty crime for Simon Canderous, but now he's gone over to the good side. At New York's underfunded and (mostly) secret Department of Extraordinary Affairs, he's learning about red tape, office politics, and the basics of paranormal investigation. But it's not the paperwork that has him breathless.

After Simon spills his coffee on (okay, through) the ghost of a beautiful woman- who doesn't know she's dead-he and his mentor plan to find her killers. But Simon's not prepared for the nefarious plot that unfolds before him, involving politically correct cultists, a large wooden fish, a homicidal bookcase, and the forces of Darkness, which kind of have a crush on him.  


Having just finished a true kitten squisher (The Luminaries), it was time for something light and frothy.  Dead To Me fit the bill, providing entertainment for one evening, two coffee breaks, and one lunch hour.  Not at all convoluted, it was easy to keep track of in these short reading bursts.


If I was to compare it to food (and really, why not?), I would call it cotton candy.  No nutritional value, empty sugar calories, and potential cavity hazard.


I felt it had a rather adolescent tone, with the main character being awfully fixated on “girls,” be they phantom or real.  These women (and really, anyone over 16 isn’t a girl, IMO) are frightfully inconsistent, varying wildly between being helpless & feminine and being strong & butt-kicking, often on the same page.  There is the stereotypical psycho ex-girlfriend, Tamara, who gets helpfully murdered by the bad guys, the ghost-woman Irene who goes ballistic because of the phone messages left by the psycho ex-girlfriend, and Jane, the innocent gal from the country who has been drawn into evil because she needs a job (and apparently hasn’t a brain in her head, thus protecting her from zombies). 


But in all fairness, the male characters do not fare much better.  The main character, Simon, indulges in a lot of immature behaviour on the job, displaying temper, insubordination, and impulsiveness that would cause negative consequences for anyone but this special snowflake.  He carries a bat for self defense and since his moods also swing psychotically between being calm and somewhat reasonable to being a bat-wielding basher, he tends to whack first and ask questions later.  Combine that with his tendency to fall instantly in love with any female who crosses his path and you have a very unpredictable and unrealistic main character.


It’s cute, it’s fluffy, and it obviously owes a great debt to ideas from Harry Potter.  My first venture into the urban fantasy genre and I realize that there must be superior offerings out there.  I would never have chosen it if it wasn’t on the reading list for my real-life book club.  At some point, I’ll definitely check out other offerings in the genre.