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10 May 2014 @ 09:41 am
Recent Reads: Shadows  

I blew through Robin McKinley‘s SHADOWS yesterday (somewhat foolishly, actually, since after already staying up too late watching a movie I noticed the book with only 4 chapters left sitting beside me and thought “well, I’ll just finish that chapter,” and everybody knows how *that* story ends).

I’ll read anything McKinley writes (although it appears I’ve failed to read PEGASUS, so I need to remedy that), though I find her books to be–not exactly hit or miss. More like more like “out of the ballpark” or “perfectly readable”. Most of the out-of-the-ballpark ones are the ones I read as a teen (excepting OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD, which is one of those books I won’t re-read the final chapter of, and SUNSHINE, which I adored beyond reason).

SHADOWS hit somewhere in between for me. I actively disliked the voice/protagonist in the opening chaters even though I could tell that it was at least good and possibly better than average teen protagonist voice. I just–I don’t know. She started out too strongly angry for me, or something. I didn’t like it. However, it was Robin McKinley and furthermore Michelle Sagara (whose reading judgment I trust even if I don’t always agree with it) had recommended it highly, so I kept going…

…and it really paid off. It is, in fact, a fairly excellent book and goes a different direction than I expected and the romance is unexpectedly lovely and I forgave the protagonist for the opening chapters as she grew up, and I spent a fair bit of time mentally working out how it belonged to the Damar world (because as far as I can tell, nearly all, possibly all-all, of McKinley’s books take place in the same universe), and–not unusually–when I got to the end I wished that McKinley wrote sequels.

However: if it had not been Robin McKinley, I would not have gotten past the opening chapters. This is partly me, certainly: I’ve been bouncing off books hard lately. I’m drawn right in or I put the book down within a few pages. With pretty nearly any other author, I’d have put it down. It’s only 30 years of loyalty to her books that kept me with this one long enough to find the story I could enjoy.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Deborah Blakedeborahblakehps on May 10th, 2014 11:48 am (UTC)
It's not just you. I had exactly the same reaction. I found the book really hard to get into, but since it was Robin McKinley (and I'd bought it in hardcover) I stuck with it. By the end, I too wished there was going to be a sequel and really loved it. But these first few chapters didn't do the book any favors.

On the other hand,I was very glad I kept going.
kitmizkit on May 10th, 2014 03:28 pm (UTC)
Nice to know it wans't just me, then. I too am glad I kept going, but I wish I hadn't had to keep gong, if you see what I mean.
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kitmizkit on May 11th, 2014 08:43 am (UTC)
I think it's some of all of those. I'm a little tired of (as ursulav put it visting Fantasyland, so it has to be just right to draw me in now. I'm reading very much for light, easy pleasure most of the time, so certainly some of it is laziness *because* I don't feel like I've got a lot of extra time...

...and some of it is that I *do* feel like I odn't have a lot of extra time, so if it doesn't work for me right goddamn away I'm not going to push through it. This is dismaying when I pick up something I really wanted to read and bounce off, but mostly I'm just like "you gotta have me at hello." I dunno, but man, yeah.
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kitmizkit on May 11th, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I'm not sure what chapter it is that it starts to improve--the point at which (Fairly Obvious From The Start, to a reader) Things Are Revealed, which may be 5 or 6 chapters in, I'm not sure. But it improves hugely at that point, so hang in there until then.
Herefoxherefox on May 12th, 2014 03:30 pm (UTC)
I could see that though I didn't ha problem getting into it. It definitely begs for a sequel though.

I have sort of the same reaction to most of Robin McKinley's books too. There are some I love to death to the point of having multiple copies for when I read them to pieces (Beauty, most notably, though I probably would do that to Sunshine too if I didn't have the hardcover) and there are some that I've only read once or twice.