Review: Seven Up

Seven Up

It kind of goes without saying that I’m not in author Janet Evanovich’s target audience, and neither is a Stephanie Plum novel the kind of book I was expecting to review at the beginning of this blog. But Seven Up itself and the story behind how I read it is worth it.

Though the seventh book in the series, this was the first tale of the wacky New Jersey bounty hunter that I read. When I read the back cover blurb, the implication was of a thriller. This was wrong. When I started reading the actual book, it felt like it was going to be a duller one about family drama. This was also wrong. I got one of the biggest pleasant surprises I’d ever read.

When I finished the book, it turned to be a hilarious, fast-moving, laugh-out-loud goofy novel of pure fun. Really, despite its initially slow start, I had a great time with it. To be honest, it reminded me of The Simpsons at its height, which is always something that humorous fiction should aspire to. While I’ve heard the series has grown stale since then, Seven Up itself is extremely fresh and enjoyable.

Review: The One Who Eats Monsters

The One Who Eats Monsters

monstercover

Once again, Fuldapocalypse takes the plunge into a new genre. After seeing a good review of it on Spacebattles, I decided to read Casey Matthews’ The One Who Eats Monsters for myself.

This of course, is an “urban fantasy” novel, where you have supernatural entities hidden inside the modern world. Ryn, the protagonist is one of them, an ancient humanoid creature and vicious ‘hunter of monsters’. Throughout the book she alternates between being a vigilante and protecting a politician’s daughter she begins to develop very human feelings for.

Urban fantasy isn’t really a genre I read much of, although more for matters of admitted personal taste than any actual, inherent dislike. With that in mind, it was good for what it was. It definitely has some notable flaws. The human dialogue was often, er, “subpar”, and there were dramatic contrivances that made sense in-universe but still felt forced from a storytelling perspective.

But that’s more than made up for by the book having exactly what a cheap thriller needs to succeed-good action and good pacing. This definitely has both, although the sequel hook segment at the end is incredibly rushed.

The characterization is mixed but still ultimately positive. Many of the other characters are either shallow, stereotypical, or both. However, Ryn’s “monster with a conscience” is well-done, and that’s what matters most. Even the romance (and this is not a romantic fiction blog) is done surprisingly well-done.

One interesting note is that this is technically an alternate history novel. Among other things, supernatural shenanigans prolonged the existence of the Soviet Union (ah, those Fuldapocalypse zombie sorceresses). It reminded me, alternate history reader and writer, of this very big phenomena where a lot of fiction could be reasonably labeled “alternate history”, but because there’s no real incentive to do so, it isn’t.

I’m still not exactly a fan of urban fantasy, but I don’t regret taking a chance on a different genre with this book.

Review: Daughters of the Night Sky

Daughters of the Night Sky

nightskycover

With Aimie Runyan’s Daughters of the Night Sky, Fuldapocalypse moves into yet another new genre-the Romance Centered Around Night Witches. It’s a little tricky to review, but I’ll try. The first “issue” is that this is obviously chick-lit, which is not something normally associated with the Eastern Front, for good reason. That the heroine falls in love with an artist is kind of the icing on the cake.

The second issue is that it feels like chick-lit and not like characters who are actually in the middle of a horrendous world war. What this came across as was “romance characters, plus add a few obligatory flying scenes and the occasional stereotype like a reference to blocking detachments.” While the author admits she wasn’t that knowledgeable about Russia or military aviation, it just feels too generic.

And that brings me to the third issue, which is that the actual flying isn’t very good. While I wasn’t expecting Dale Brown and while it’s actually admirable to not try and dwell on something you admit you don’t have much knowledge of, this still falls short. The problem is there’s too much of it and not enough research.

It would be like if a writer was making a story about American football (hey, I’m posting this review on NFL Draft day) and only knew the basic positions, such as quarterback and receiver. This would be obvious to those who read it and knew even a bit about the subject matter, but the writer still insisted on showing several games. This is like that, only with Polikarpovs instead.

As a whole, this is just a fluffy romance novel with World War II flying scenes and the characters having Russian names.