Tuesday, April 16, 2013

March Book of the Month: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Our March book of the month was Written in Red, by Anne Bishop. It's the middle of April now. And just for the record, the reason it took me so long to post this is that Kenya couldn't be bothered to do her reading. Not that I'm throwing her under the bus or anything—but this is entirely her fault.

You can read more about our book of the month feature here.

by Anne Bishop

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Alicia: So what did you think of Written in Red?

Kenya: It started off interesting but slow.

Alicia: I agree. It still intrigued me because of the differences between humans and the Others. But action junkies (like you) might have trouble with it.

Kenya: First of all, you don't start off with "A Brief History of the World." Are you fucking kidding me?

Alicia: Oh yeah, I skipped right over that.

Kenya: I was disappointed that she just info-dumped a whole chapter

Alicia: That was crap and so typical of why I usually skip over prologues.

Kenya: It is cheating. Slowly build the world. And once I got through all the history, I was pretty much bored. I also hated the different POVs.

Alicia: But sometimes multi-POV works for you. Why didn't it work here?

Kenya: Take George R.R. Martin. He picks a few characters and sticks with them the whole ride. The reader isn't shocked or surprised. Plus, Martin does it in a certain rhythm. By a quarter of the book, the reader knows to expect a switch at each chapter. I felt like this book was dipping in and out of different heads.

Alicia: I did find the switches in Written in Red to be unpredictable at times.

Kenya: With no format. And ASS.

Alicia: What does ass have to do with anything?

Kenya: Anne Bishop wrote this book with her ass.

Alicia: You just wanted to use the word ass.

Kenya: She stuck a pen in her anus and just wiggled out a novel.

Alicia: Oh gods. I'm going to pretend I didn't just read that.

Kenya: She writes good books. I read her fantasy series long ago. Something about hot demons, Satan, and this really powerful witch. Those books rocked. And they switched POV but in a practical way. Chapter to chapter.

Alicia: So here's how I feel about Written in Red: it's a concept book. The Others are feral and animalistic and they contrast with the humans. Each group of the Others has characteristics of its animal counterpart. The Wolves like to play and chase—and they eat meat, including humans. The Hawks eat mice. The crows like shiny things and like to play with pencils and sticks. That was really entertaining at times. But for a lot of people, it's not going to be enough. There really wasn't much going on except for exploration of these difference beings.

Kenya: Okay that was cool. But I couldn't figure out a set plot, besides "there is something mysterious going on."

Alicia: My main issue with it wasn't how slow it was, since I was entertained anyway. My main issue was that there was quite a bit of telling, instead of showing. Some entire scenes were made up of Simon or Meg just thinking about stuff that happened. That's cheating! Show, don't tell.

Kenya: *makes a ghost noise

Alicia: Okay, it took me a second to get that. You’re booing. :P

Kenya: Yes. Like I said she wrote it with her ass.

Alicia: I'm still ignoring that. Okay, so any favorite lines? Or awful lines?

Kenya: Oh yeah. It's a scene so be patient, but not a long scene.

Alicia: You are taking too long to type it. For the record, I already typed out my quote, and all I have to do is paste it in the chat window. But I also read the entire book, so we know which one of us is the slacker here.

Kenya: "Do you know the joke about what happened to the dinosaurs?” Burke asked as Monty opened the office door. "No, sir." Burke didn't smile. "The Others is what happened to the dinosaurs."
That's my favorite scene.

Alicia: Yeah, that was a good one. Okay, so mine is part of a letter written to the Others' advice columnist. The letter-writer is an Other who took home a human guy, and they were getting frisky. And the Other writing the letter for advice says, "I got a little excited when he began to play push-away after I nipped him and, well, I ended up biting him on the thigh. It wasn't a big bite—didn't even need stitching--and despite what he claimed, it really wasn't all that close to his chew toy."

Kenya: Huh? What's his chew toy? His penis?

Alicia: Are seriously telling me you don't understand a penis joke when you see it? You disappoint me.

Kenya: Chew toy. Ewww. Ur sick.

Alicia: Dude, it’s not like I wrote it. And I guess I should also mention that Wolf pups sometimes use animal penises as chew toys.

Kenya: Lmao! Wtf, that is so insane. I'm eating over here, dude!
Go on timeout!

Alicia: Well, you should have been giving me your full attention, instead of eating.

Kenya: I'm gonna need you to not talk to me for a few minutes.

Alicia: Sure. But first give me your rating for the book please. I give it four stars. How many stars for you?

Kenya: Two.