Friday, January 13, 2012

Books Like Whoa: Small Favor (The Pigeon Holed Genre)

Next, let's look at a traditionally pigeon holed genre tome...



Small Favor
by Jim Butcher

Procured from my library through Overdrive app on the iPhone

Procured in August 22, 2011

Finished on September 1, 2011

Format: Audio (over my phone from the library! what technological marvels!)

Why I gave it a try: Jenn from Bookrageous (http://jennirl.com/)(http://bookrageous.podbean.com/) has many times swooned about how much she loves this series and it was the first thing that popped up on my library's suggestion homepage, so I thought, why not?

Summary: This is the 10th book in the Dresden Files series, featuring the wizard (is this the right term? fanboys and girls, correct me if needed) Harry Dresden, who is sort of a magician-turned-gum shoe, living in a slightly altered Chicago. He has an apprentice and duties as a city warden for the magical community, and he is a little surprised that it's been such a long time since someone has tried to kill him. Whoops! Spoke too soon. Old Harry has to overcome Gruffs, fairies, gangsters, demons, and all kinds of weird baddies that are after him, all while paying back a favor to queen of the Winter Court, our good friend Mab. Will he be able to keep all these forces in check, pay his debts,  and save the world? 

Thoughts: I wasn't sure how much I would love this, since I plugged into it in the middle of the series, rather than at the beginning. However, Butcher does a good job of catching you up on enough of the backstory that new readers don't feel lost, without going into so much of it that returning readers would get annoyed. I really credit him for this, because this is often handled very poorly in recurring series. Tip of the hat to you, sir!

I was also floored by how solid the writing is in this. Keep in mind, I was reading this concurrently with The Magicians, and we all know how I felt about that (http://misadventuresfromthebrink.blogspot.com/2012/01/books-like-whoa-magicians-by-lev.html). In contrast to Grossman, who was simultaneously reaching for literary and genre greatness (and mostly failed at both, in my opinion), Butcher is wholly focused on delivering a compelling, satisfying story and uses the appropriate language to achieve that end. Basically, he's not a hack. And let's be real, there is a lot of genre fiction out there that is written by well meaning hacks. They may have interesting plots, but they simply don't have the writing tools they need to get that story across in a competent fashion. Butcher has these tools and then some, and as I listened, I was surprised at how often I enjoyed a turn of phrase or description. He does use the exclamative, "Hell's bells!", a lot, but I'll give him a pass. Overall, very well written - not beautiful, but he avoids cliched use of language and proves that he's not just a guy with a great idea for a plot, but genuinely a writer.

As far as plot goes, I was surprised to find that it reminded me much more of a police procedural than of a fantasy. The whole "urban fantasy" genre is new to me, and I guess my expectations were off. However, that being said, I really enjoyed it! I liked that there were a lot of machinations on all sides, figuring out the best move to thwart your opponent, and general detectivery (yes, I know that's not a real word). There's also some crime boss stuff happening, which adds another level of interest, and there is a lot of discussion about faith and belief, which I thought was handled well. I'm not sure if some folks would be offended by some of the plot conventions in this area (use of religious artifacts like the nails of Christ's cross and the 30 pieces of silver), but this religious person was not bothered by it. In fact, I appreciated having the topic approached with respect and thoughtful discussion. 

Anyways, who would have guessed that such a typically genre offering would have me so hooked? I was amazed at how much more I liked this than other books that were sold as being of a better quality in the genre arena. I'd definitely recommend anyone up for a good romp give this a try!


Rating:

5 - It's really good; well written and pleasurable 

What genre book surprised you with it's quality? Do you feel like most genre books have quality issues or is that just "the Man" perpetuating prejudice against them?

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