Forgotten Baby: Things that Bother me in Books

So, a couple weeks ago, I was reading a book. A fantasy. Not an epic fantasy, not urban fantasy, more sword and sorcery.

There was a guy; he used magic to sort of nudge a girl to like him. She does, they got together, and in due time, she gets pregnant.

The guy, the hero? He panics and wants out. A normal enough reaction in a boy, I suppose. He is all: I never promised her I would marry her.

So, okay, he didn’t. She thought otherwise, but he never said the words. In this community, the action is sort of a promise, but he never got that.

So than he gets into the trouble for questionable use of magic and gets thrown out of his community and into some other community.

The girl’s pregnancy is the catalyst for a bunch of actions, for the story taking off. She and her baby are never mentioned again. He falls in love with someone else, spends a lot to send letters to her, and never thinks about the unborn child he left behind. He never gives the child another thought.

Okay, yes, so it’s probably a little awkward to ask the girl you’re presently in love about the ex-girlfriend who you left pregnant. Still.

I am still a little bothered by how easily he can forget he left a child behind. I mean, he’s the hero of the book and all. He does a lot of good things, goes through a lot, he grows up. But this one thing? I can’t get over it. I finished the whole book weeks ago and it still bothers me.

I kept waiting for him to think about it. He never does. Not even when the girl he loves gets pregnant, too. It’s like the whole thing never happened.

What about the unborn child he left behind? What about the girl he got pregnant? It was a plot point and nothing more. It doesn’t have to be more – he’s that kind of guy, clearly.

But it bothers me. It really does. Do things like that bother you?

 

Friday Flash: Apologize

My first friday flash in a couple of weeks. Didn’t feel like writing one today either, but thought: I should.

 

The full moon rose above the tree line, big and round and dirty white, like someone had smeared dusty fingers across it.
 
She looked away, not wanting to see it. Terrible thing.
 
Flowers buried their heads in their petals all along the lawn. When she was little, she used to think they slept and sang them a lullaby in the evening.
 
She knew better now, didn’t she?
 
She bent to pick a bloodroot. Its white petals were tightly furled and soft as a newborn’s head. She picked one and let it drop on the dark green grass.
 
I will die.
 
Another petal floated to the ground. He will die.
 
A third petal joined its siblings. I will die.
 
A wolf emerged from the copse of woods and padded closer. His blond fur gleamed in the moonlight.
 
The fourth petal drifted down to rest on her sandaled foot. He will die.
 
His fur wavered and rippled under the full moon.
 
A fifth white petal wafted away in a gust of wind. I will die.
 
A man rose from the grass, tall, naked and skin like brightly polished copper.
 
The sixth petal landed on his black hair. He will die.
 
“We need to talk, babe,” he rumbled.
 
They did not.
 
The seventh petal circled down to land on the ground between them. I will die.
 
She pointed the gun she had taken from our locker. It held silver bullets she had especially commissioned. “There is nothing left to say.”
 
The last petal drifted away, out of sight on the wind. He will die.
 
She fired.
 
The shot missed him, smacked into the ground behind him. He never even flinched. Bastard.
 
He took several steps forward. “Come on, babe. You don’t want to shoot me.”
 
She turned away. “I want you gone.”
 
His arms closed around her waist. “I am sorry. It won’t happen.”
 
His heat seeped through her clothes. “No. It won’t.”
 
“I can make it up to you.” He blew a breath in her ear.
 
“You can’t. My mother’s crystal! You can’t replace it.”
 
“Give me a chance. Please.”
 
She huffed out a breath.

Books I Wish Had a Sequel

Have you ever read a book and wanted more? It ends, but you don’t want to leave the characters?

I’ve had this feeling a few times. I want to know more, about the characters, about the world. The book has ended, but the character’s life is still going on and I want to know what further adventures they have.

I have had this feeling with a few books.

1) Carnival by Elizabeth Bear 

This is first book I read by Elizabeth Bear. It has a fine ending. The heroes get their happy-ever-after, after a fantastic adventure and the genuine possibility that one of them might not make it and the other would be left forever scarred by the loss. Well, they both make it. But I want to know what happens next. Is there a war or something? The next book doesn’t have to use the same main characters as this one, but it would be nice.

2) The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Personally, I think Brandon Sanderson has a lot of space in this world to expand. Maybe with the main character, maybe not. But certainly he could expand on the emperor or one of the other minor characters. I think he should!

3) Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa Scott

This is the first book I read Melissa Scott and the first cyberpunk I ever read, too. It ends on a hopeful note. But the question I want answered: what happens next? Something must happen next. They get out of all that controversy and nothing happens? Do the characters find happiness? Maybe just a short story? I am not asking for a lot.

4) Sunshine by Robin McKinley

In all honesty, this book never felt finished to me. It really, really needs a sequel. It needs to be a series. Seriously.

Quote

Visitation

This post is a little weird. It comes at the end of a spectacularly shitty week. At first I wasn’t even going to write one, but it is Friday evening and I thought why not? It’s mostly incomplete sentences and almost random images. It is a little strange and a new thing for me to do.  I am not sure it works.

Arms raised. Turn. Turn the other way. Look up. Look down.
 
Gentle fingers probe a soft, flabby stomach, move up to bare, sagging breasts.
 
Avoid the large protrusion on the bottom left joint. Wipe off yellow pus and red blood.
 
Get up, dress in a hospital gown and clutch the back with one hand. Lie down on a hospital bed. Get wheeled to a room.
 
Smell disinfectant. Finger is pricked. Swallow pills. Watch blood fill three little tubes.
 
Sign forms. Dress again in normal clothes. Leave.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I finished Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett last week. This is the first time I read Color of Magic. I understand there is a movie; I have not seen it.

Blurb from GoodReads:

Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

 

Okay, I have to admit the idea of a world transported on the back giant turtle strikes me slightly ridiculous. In fact, large parts of the book strike me as ridiculous. But it works. It all holds together and not in a ridiculous way. That’s amazing.

The idea of the naïve tourist is a good way to explore this world. He’s an insurance analyst. The very idea of insurance seems a foreign concept to other character, the inept wizard. The inept wizard is a cynical type, one who is forced by his leader and circumstance to actually keep his promise to be a good tour good for the tourist.

In the tourist’s travels, while explaining the idea of insurance to people, one person commits insurance fraud. The book never said so, but I suspect the person never gets his money.

I loved the idea of the invisible dragons, dragons that are only real if you are in the dragon area and if the dragon’s owner believes in them. It’s like riding an invisible airplane, while carrying an invisible gun. Sounds pretty wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, it sounds wonderful to me.

The Luggage is pretty damn interesting, too. I mean, the idea of Luggage, with a capital L, that bites and is infinitely large – well, it would never be lost, never be stolen, and you could carry whatever you liked!

Also, the net around the edge of the world that catches anyone who falls over. Good idea. Too bad it is not fool-proof.

I love it. I love it a lot more than I thought I would, considering how utterly silly the idea sounds.

The book ends when the inept wizard falls over the edge of the world. This is a cliffhanger, and I don’t think I approve. But, luckily, the second book is already out.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

I got Half a King by Joe Abercrombie from NetGalley. There are some errors in the copy, but it’s an ARC and they’ll probably be fixed by time it’s published.

I found out that Half a King was a YA novel only a few chapters into the book. The main character is young, but I wouldn’t have twigged to its YA status if I hadn’t read it online. I will try not to spoil anyone. ;)

Back page summary from Amazon: 

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”
 
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.
 
The deceived will become the deceiver.
 
Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
 
The betrayed will become the betrayer.
 
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.
 
Will the usurped become the usurper?
 
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

 
I really like that line: I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath. It has a ring to it.

The main character, Prince Yarvi, is born crippled in a world that values only strength in its kings. One badly formed arm makes him a cripple, a half a man.

I have to ask: when was the last time you had a main character that was crippled from the get-go? Me, I can’t remember.

So, born unable to wield a weapon, Yarvi trains to become a minister. But his father and brothers are killed so he has to take the throne. He promptly declares war on those who killed his family. He is betrayed just as quickly. Then he vows to take back a throne he never really wants.

There is war and betrayal, all of it driven by politics.

But for all that Half a King isn’t a bleak book. Gritty, yes, but not bleak. I was expecting bleak; other Joe Abercrombie books are bleak. Perhaps that’s the YA effect. I am grateful; bleak books are so hard to read.

After the betrayal, Yarvi lives in harsh conditions. But he lives, and that’s more than his betrayer intended. He finds friends and companions that carry him to the end. His friends are all from different lands, different stations in life before they ended up together. They are all interesting, especially the one named Nothing.

My favorite part: the end.

The ending is a series of scenes, each dealing with a different character. Some of it I guessed from previous events. One part of the end, the most important part, I never guessed. It involved the betrayal of a character that I thought was trustworthy, that I thought fit into another role in the story. No. It was fantastic.

To reiterate: that one scene makes this book a standout. I will always remember that end. Always! It was perfect. Completely unexpected, but perfectly sensible, too.

My least favorite part: the middle.

This has less to do with sagginess in the middle – it has none! It is very sharp and tight in the middle! – and more to do because I thought briefly Yarvi himself was betraying everyone. It didn’t work out that way and I am glad. I was inspired to skim the end to reassure myself Yarvi was a character that I should root for. This, no doubt, is evidence of good storytelling.

Things I would like to know: more about the world.

The focus of Half a King is on Yarvi. That’s fine; he is the main character. But the companions are from other lands, and judging from them, the other lands are different. I am not even sure about the relationship between the other lands to Yarvi’s land. None of that is important to the story so it wasn’t included. But I still want to know.

I really, really liked Half a King and I am looking forward to the next one.

Z is for Zonk

Zonk as in the books that put you to sleep.

I had to read a lot of these for English class. They are classics, yeah, but so boring. They are why I still avoid all books that look like they belong in an English class.

They are a pretty big reason why I didn’t major in English, despite a lifelong of reading. I was afraid I would have to read terribly boring books.

Some of these books include:

Bored Baby

1) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Sorry to all the Steinbeck fans out there. But Mice and Men hardly held my attention.

2) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Despite being very short and despite it being required reading, I skimmed from the middle of the book all the way to the end.

3) Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

I suspect this book was an attempt to insert multiculturalism in the class, but it moved like at a snail’s pace. It was awkward to read, too.

And for a book about religion, I never got God like vibes from Govinda and I should have. (Else the name ought to have been different!) Also, the characters were confusing. I never figured out if they were supposed to Buddhist or Hindu or something else. It starts with Hindu stuff and moves on to Buddhist stuff. Confusing. So . . . yeah.

I did not, however, skim this book because it was confusing enough without that.

But mostly it was an awkward read and moved slowly. I could have tolerated it better otherwise.

4) The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

The main character was nearly as annoying as Bella from Twilight and that’s saying a lot. I skimmed a lot in this book.

What books make you zonk out?

Y is for Yelp and Other Sounds Characters Make

Y is for yelp and other sounds characters make. Other sounds include, but are not limited to: squeal, squeak, grunt, bark, snarl,

Hear Me Snarl

growl, hiss and whimper.

One of my favorite writers, Anne Bishop, is particularly prone to making her characters snarl, growl and whimper. On rare occasions it annoys me.

But other writers, ones I like less, have their characters grunt and growl their way through the page. It is beyond annoying, and may lead to me putting the book down. It’s just so irritating – no one grunts/growls/barks every sentence they say. And if they do, there is still no need to put these tags in every other bit of dialogue.

Also, sometimes even with the dialogue tag, I cannot hear the sentence as a grown/grunt/whimper.

Does this annoy you? And, whether it does or doesn’t, can you always hear the sound in the dialogue?

W is for Waffled

A Winner’s W.

I have waffled when in the middle of many books – do I want to finish? Do I want to continue?

This is when I skim to decide. 

But there are books I still haven’t decided what I want to do, despite a fair amount of skimming. Like the Game Of Thrones book; I came to a stop, I looked for and read scenes with some of the characters I liked best and I still haven’t decided.

I’ve been waffling for 3-4 years on it now.

Not that this is a big deal. It isn’t. But sometimes it is just hard to decide.

V

V danced for the crowd. The red folds of her dress swirled around her, sometimes obscuring her from the crowd, sometimes revealing her.

The crowd chanted her name: Red V. V. V. Red!

The music thrummed through, a counter point to her own nature, named for her. Venom.

The crowd swayed with her.

She twirled over the stage, her bare feet pounding the floorboards. Thump. Step. Thump. Leap.

With each step the venom in her music spread. One by one the people in the crowd crashed like felled trees.

Only one man was left standing. The reason she was here. The reason for these destroyed lives.

He grinned and jumped atop the nearest body. But the music didn’t stop and she didn’t stop moving.

Soon he, too, fell.

She was free! She turned one last somersault and landed on his chest.