Mar. 24th, 2014

fengi: (Mr. Fengi)
This weekend Deadend Margo and I were reading books in bed. I had picked up The Bone Season from the library. The first few pages include a chart listing the taxonomy of psychics in this alternative history cum future world and a map and the final pages are a glossary of terms. I said to Margo in a Homer Simpson voice: "awww, my fantasy story comes with instructions".

I'm usually a big fan of the creative use of maps, charts, dictionaries, dramatis personae lists and other non-narrative, or ostensibly non-fiction, organizational devices in fiction. I'll give any story an extra chance for including footnotes. For some reason, however, these gave off a whiff of bullshit, things which mostly didn't enhance the story and weren't entertaining on their own.

After a few chapters I abandoned the book. It contains elements I'm currently avoiding because they are so often done poorly. The setting is a highly contrived dystopia which is increasingly slapdash the longer one examines it. The protagonist is either the chosen one or very special and thus granted, rather than earning, a destiny, even though she's less interesting than the rest of the cast. As the introduction of a projected seven book saga, it's already a plethora of climactic moments which change everything.

It also bothers me there's so little exploration of the initial setting in the majority of the population lives, even though it is far more interesting and suspenseful than the special people only world of Oxford which dominates the book. I realized I would prefer to read about the mundanes trapped between the physically empowered and the politically empowered. The magicians seemed less a stand-in for the marginalized within the state than an example of privileged startup types vs. the establishment.

Also, it would be awesome if The Bone Season referred to spring break for the thaumic trainees, but it doesn't.

I'm also more interested in the saga of someone so young signing a contract which commits them to spending most of their twenties fleshing out a mythos they began as a teen. Someone struggling to reconcile aging perspective and taste with an outline created in a burst of youthful calculation seems like a more appealing multi-book saga than this.

It's yet another work which in some ways echoes Ayn Rand's Anthem without the conscious embrace of libertarian politics.