Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review - Lish McBride's Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer Book 1) by Lish McBride
Published by: Square Fish
Publication Date: May 8th, 2012
Format: Paperback, 343 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy

Sam is nothing much. He's a skateboarding slacker who wasn't cut out for college and eeks out a living at the local fast food joint with his friends, most of whom crash in his minuscule apartment. Everything changes when he breaks a tail light of a swanky car in the parking lot during a heated game of spud hockey, wherein potatoes can do serious damage to vintage cars if you're a crappy shot. The owner of the car, Douglas, is not pleased, but even more, shocked when he encounters Sam, who has more in common with Douglas then he could ever imagine. Sam might not know it yet, but he's a Necromancer, and so is Douglas. Necromancers don't really reside near each other or play well others, and Douglas is quick to make this point to Sam when he delivers the head of Sam's friend Brooke to his shitty apartment's door. Sam now has to figure out the truth that has been hidden from him his whole life and hope that he will survive his run in with Douglas, as well as other varieties of beasties he thought only lived in science fiction.

It's not a good sign when the best part of a book is an amusing title. But even the title loses a bit of it's luster when the song title gag is repeated at the start of every chapter. I had not heard of Lish McBride when I went to one of the tour stops of the Fierce Reads Tour back in 2012. I will admit I was solely there to stalk Marissa Meyer, she of the Lunar Chronicles, but all four of the authors present made a good impression, Lish was perhaps the most memorable. She was amusing, sarcastic, laid back, and had an obvious love of sleep, which she was needing desperately, and that's something I could seriously relate to at the time being in the middle of an amazingly busy time in my life, so much so that even taking the day off to go to an author signing resulted in me getting hives. The event had me wanting to read all the authors books instantly, but Lish's more then any of the others.

I thought to myself, if she could just capture part of herself on the page then it would be a truly awesome read. Sadly the only place I could sense Lish's personality was in the "Go Fish: Questions for the Author" extra at the back of the book. The book wasn't bad, it wasn't good, it was just flat. It felt like the book had had the soul drained out of it. I'm not sure how it got to this state, perhaps through over editing as Lish's personality was systematically stripped out of the book so that it lacked anything recognizable from her. Sometimes too much editing can have this effect... but for such a memorable person she has written a very forgettable book that was Reaper meets Mercy Thompson with the head in the box from season two of Deadwood and the job prospects of Being Human with a little Kevin Smith and a few moments of unforgettable weirdness. Hello zombie panda!

The writing style of the book also really grated on me. I have issues when authors are being "cute" or "clever" with their narration. In other words, when they tend to waffle back and forth between 1st and 3rd person. For every instance that it works, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, there are hundreds of instances where it fails, I'm looking at you Scalzi and that crap ending to Redshirts! Here it fails. Not on the epicness of the Scalzi scale, but it still doesn't work. The only way for this technique to really work is for it to flow with the story, but Lish seemed to be forcing it. The switching up felt like it was a writing exercise, like homework, and seeing as this book started out as part of her thesis to graduate with an MFA in fiction... that's just what it is. Homework. Do you like reading other people's homework? I didn't think so.

Yet I think, seeing as this is a first book, I could have been forgiving, I could have overlooked a lot of the flaws if it weren't for Douglas. Every book does need an antagonist. They're the stock villain that our hero must fight and whose downfall we root for. But just because you're the bad guy doesn't mean that you can just skate through the book. Oh no! A bad guy has to be just as dynamic for a book to be balanced. And I don't think my hatred of Douglas is based on the fact that his sections of the book where the ones in third person... though that did annoy me. On second thought though, just the fact that the villain has his own chapters annoys the hell out of me because it takes away the mystery knowing what he's up to, knowing his motives, and knowing how he plans to mess with Sam. In fact that might be just a general issue with this book, not having mystery makes you not in a rush to get to that last page but slowly amble in a way that you could stop or start at any time.

But really, I meant to be talking about Douglas. He's unrepentant evil. There is nothing interesting about him. He is not compelling, he is not dynamic, he is just evil. Sometimes the most fun in a book is gotten in uncovering a back story, finding a grain of goodness, where good turned evil. But the only person that Douglas reminded me of was Patrick Bateman in American Psycho... a comparison that isn't in Douglas's favor. Because of the structure of American Psycho, by being in Bateman's mind we get a depth, even amongst the evil. Douglas was just flat, blah, evil. Evil for evils sake and nothing more. I just hated him outright. In fact, I hated him so much I didn't want to read any part of the book he was in. If you're reading a book the worst thing that could happen is to have a character that makes the book so unenjoyable that you would rather put the book down then read another line about them. While Sam was meh in my opinion, just a few lines in a Douglas chapter and I was begging for Sam's return! I just hope Douglas stays dead, but via horror conventions, I know he's not. Douglas is truly sapping my will to pick up Necromancing the Stone...


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