Usually when I DNF a book, it’s because it’s just that bad, but that’s not the case here. I don’t mean to damn this book with faint praise, but I’ve read (and finished) a lot of books that I liked a lot less than I did this one. So why did I finish those and give up on this one? Sometimes it’s all about mood and patience. I usually ask myself, “How much am I willing to put up with to see if it’ll get better?” And, honestly, the answer is usually, “a lot.”
So, once again, why not push through when I can usually put up with a lot in the hopes that the book will improve? The answer is twofold. One, I want a good book and I have way too many other books that I’m still hopeful about sitting on my shelf waiting for me to read to be willing to put up with a book I can already tell I’m not going to like. Two, when it’s the style that I don’t like and not just a certain character or the plot setup, then it’s usually a safe bet to assume that isn’t going to change by the end of the book.
I am a rare, very rare, YA reader. So when I discovered how young the main characters felt…well, you can bet I wasn’t pleased. Every blush and stutter and painfully junior high emotion was like nails on a chalkboard. I kept asking myself, How old are these people? Are they just now going through puberty? Is this guy a warrior or some little kid? I just can’t get into any kind of relationship development when they have the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old. And before you all scream at me, yes, I know that not all YA books are like that. I just need something to compare this to.
Here’s a good example of what I mean. (You’ll need some back story so the quote makes sense.) The hero and heroine had recently been caught kissing by the heroine’s mother when they were supposed to be waxing the cheese. She laughed at them and said something along the lines of ‘waxing the cheese’ not being the usual euphemism for fooling around.
”Is the beeswax ready?”
She stirred the pot with her brush and nodded. “I think so. Ready to wax the cheese with me?”
The absurdity of her mother’s comment caught up with him. A wheezing snort escaped Kenyen, his face scrunching with laughter. “Waxing the cheese! Ha! Ahahaha…”
His mirth was infectious. It was absurd. Biting her lip to stifle a giggle, Solyn unwrapped her round and dipped her brush in the green-dyed beeswax. The moment she stroked the goop over the cheese in her lap, however, she burst out laughing. The first splotch looked like a pair of puckered lips to her, and it was too much. Snorting, she finally gave up and dropped the cheese and brush on the table beside her, laughing heartily.
Grinning, Kenyen wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Hey…wanna wax the cheese with me?”
Flopping the back of one hand over her forehead, draping the palm of the other over her heart, Solyn quipped right back. “Oh! Oh! Such eloquent words, such passionate words! How can a maiden resist!”
“But you cannot resist! This is greenvein cheese!” he retorted, snickering at their overblown dramatics.
“Oh, Goddess, yes—greenvein cheese, and green wax!” she shot back, arms flinging wide. Rising from the stool, she mock-stumbled to his knew. Collapsing across his lap—still grinning, she clung to his shoulers. “Wax me, my dearest darling! Wax me now!”
Taken on its own, it’s probably not that glaring, but it was really irritating when added to all their other young behavior throughout the book. That was the page I quit on. Possibly it could have been funny in some other circumstance, but it wasn’t here.
Other than the characters, I was just not a huge fan of the simple feel to the people and the world. It was all just…there. No real nuance or feeling of layers. I had the same problem with Warcy by Elizabeth Vaughan, so if you liked that series, you’ll probably enjoy this one more than I did. Added to that complaint, the book was really slow in the beginning. It felt like it took forever before anything started happening. It’s possible that it felt that way because we spent so much time in the hero and heroine’s heads. They talked to themselves (internally) the way that most characters talk to other characters. It felt like I was being beaten over the head with information the author wanted the reader to know. Couldn’t there have been a better way to go about it? Here are a few examples of what I mean:
That, too, was an oddity. Most of the ones I think are shapeshifted men, they’re awfully randy. Solyn thought, puzzling over the differences. They’ll leer, they’ll smirk, and like Tarquin, they’ll even try to steal a kiss. But this one—if he is one—is, well, uncomfortable about it. Except he really know how to kiss, and something like that surely takes practice.
…No, they don’t know. They might suspect, but they can’t know for sure. Whatever they want, they’re desperate enough to use a stranger to get it. Nudging that goat aside, he coaxed another one near with a bit straw, then began grooming it as well. I’d better think of several different ways I could react to anything they might throw at me. And think of a list of questions for Traver. I’ll also want to figure out just how difficult it might be to break him free. Because if I can do that without getting caught or tracked, one of us could run to Teshal to tell the others what’s really happening up here.
There are two examples, but that kind of internal discussion is not rare. I found plenty of examples when I was flipping through the beginning looking for quotes.
Well, that’s it in a nutshell. Hopefully the quotes helped you identify whether what irritated me would irritate you as well.