Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

I didn't like Rosemary and Rue. I disliked it pretty much from the beginning, so I probably should have just put it down. The only reason I kept reading was because I wanted to find out who the murderer was, and then McGuire doesn't play fair with the clues.

I didn't like October "Toby" Daye, the main character, and I didn't like any other character in the book either, and I'm thoroughly sick of the Cruel World of Faerie. Mostly, though, I didn't like Toby. We're told over and over that she's a knight of faerie and has done all these heroic things in the past despite being a changeling instead of a pureblood, but I don't believe it. She spends the whole book essentially droning "nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I'm going to the garden to eat worms" when every single character in the book is bending over backwards to help her. She needs the help, too, because her greatest talent seems to be getting shot by bad guys. She sure doesn't do much else.

Deep breath. Okay, seriously, there's no need for me to take this personally--it's just that I'm seeing an increasing trend in urban fantasy of so-called strong female characters who don't actually do anything but get rescued. You know, there is plenty of ground between the "man with boobs" type of female character and doormats who don't even shoot the bad guy at the very end of the book when the bad guy has just confessed to every crime going and has shown him/herself to be evil and insane. Seriously, Toby, just pull the damn trigger. What is your problem?

To be fair, if you can get past the fact the main character spends most of the book feeling sorry for herself and/or recuperating from the latest ambush that someone had to rescue her from, the story's not as terrible as I'm making it out to be. The writing is solid (I use this term a lot; I mean it's not bad writing at all but it's not brilliant prose) and the worldbuilding interesting. While I hated every single character as though they'd done me personal wrongs, at least I could tell them apart (although there were so many characters that I kept losing track of who was whom).

Not much happens in the book, though. Toby is forced by a dying woman's curse to investigate her murder, but the investigation doesn't involve much. Toby tastes the dead woman's blood to see what happened in her last minutes (that at least was cool, even if we find out at the very end of the book that the memories were 'somehow' tampered with), and then Toby sneaks into the dead woman's office and finds a Maguffin. Then it's just Toby getting shot and rescued until she discovers The Awful Truth from a character who acts as a deux ex machina, and then she fails to shoot the bad guy. That's pretty much it. I know this is a fantasy and not a real murder mystery, but if you open with a dead body, you really do need to lay down some clues for your supposedly former-PI and fairy knight to investigate. Toby doesn't even figure out to talk to the deux ex machina character on her own. Someone else tells her to, and tells her why, and sends her magically to the character's front door.

I actually don't like writing negative reviews, especially for books that aren't badly written. Rosemary and Rue caught me at a bad time--I've read a lot of books recently with the same flaws and this one was just the last straw. I think I'm going to be a little more picky with the next several books I read. If I don't like it, I'll just stop reading.

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