Saturday, February 5, 2011

Girl on Book Action: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless by Gail Carriger
ISBN: 978-0-316-05663-2


Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul.  Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead.  Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there?  From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible.  Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society?  Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing?  Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


My Thoughts:

I had finally started to read Catherynne Valente’s Habitation of the Blessed but about 15 pages into it I realized that I just don’t have the brain power right now to do justice to that particular novel.  So I turned my energy-depleted noggin to something more easily accessible, only to be sorely disappointed.

You know, I had heard good things about this novel and was looking forward to reading it.  I’m sad to report that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I had hoped (although Wren’s thoughts on it should have warned me of my impending disappointment).  I think I might have just outgrown the paranormal romance genre.  As much as these kinds of books are easy and quick to read (a real benefit when you’re as busy and mentally drained as I am at times) they just aren’t entertaining me anymore.  The only word that I could think of to describe this book – and it’s one I’m loathe to use when discussing any sort of writing – is overly self-indulgent.  It just felt as though it was a novel of wish-fulfillment with regard to the protagonist and her behavior and adventures.  Having given it some thought, I’m not going to tear this book apart based on the fact that it fulfills the mandates of its genre.  That seems unfair to the author.  I will just tell you my thoughts, as always.

If you enjoy reading paranormal romances, chances are good you will like this novel.  You have a spunky, outspoken heroine; an attractive but difficult werewolf suitor and a very endearing flamboyant vampire.  There is witty dialogue, embarrassing situations and, you know, sexy times.  Added to these standard features you have Victorian society and social norms and quite a bit of discussion of fashion and proper etiquette.  Overall, there are laughs and tense moments and I was entertained, if not satisfied.  It’s all well-imagined and well-executed.  I can’t find fault with the set-ups or the outcomes as they are typical of the genre and yet…Well, I guess my disappointment comes in because I was hoping for more.

I can’t tell you exactly why I thought this novel would be different.  It’s just one of those ideas that gets into my head and doesn’t want to vacate.  For instance, while Alexia is well-read and intelligent, she is not say…a scientist.  Why couldn’t she have been a scientist?  And…in the end she succumbs to society and OMG SPOILER marries Lord Maccon.  I would have preferred her to remain a spinster.  Do you see how the problem here is more with my expectations than with the actual book?  I need to stop reading paranormal romance novels and everything will be better.  I won’t be chomping at the bit for a story that doesn’t exist if I just read a different genre.

I know you were perhaps hoping for a more vigorous dissection of Soulless.  I apologize for not tearing into it with my usual gusto, but it just seemed unfair to take my frustrations with a genre I’ve outgrown out on one poor novel that came along at the wrong time.  I must learn to resist the siren-song of the easy read and forge on as best I can with my limited time and capacity so as to avoid these disappointments in the future.

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