August 1, 2011

Also, the Archive Was, Like, In No Way Important At All.

When I visited Brer, I had, surprisingly, a lot of time to listen to things in the car. This gave me a chance to do a little of something I rarely do anymore: read. Or, well, be read to. Brer forced a book on me called The Atrocity Archive, so I gave it a go. I listened to that book. Well, okay, I guess the book in question actually had a novella attached at the end but I did not listen to that part. Just the novel part.

It was alright.

There were a lot of really good ideas in the book, at the very least. The idea of magic being a government-controlled thing, and thus being under the influence of things like being ISO 9000 compliant and under oversight by many committees and whatnot is just a damn good idea. Damn good. It’s funny, and sadly, you can really understand how it would get to that point. If there were a real Ministry of Magic, it would be like that in this modern world. It really works as a framework for magical hijinks and adventure, certainly. I enjoyed that.

However, there really seemed to be plot holes. Wikipedia, source of all human knowledge, tells me that the book was originally serialized, and now that I know that, it really makes perfect sense. He was throwing in plot hooks and elements without really knowing where he was going, to meet deadlines for serialization. The first half of the book is really just a collection of random ideas based on a really cool theme, with Bob trying to figure out what he’s going to do and shit happens to him and then that’s over, next issue there’s a new problem he’s dealing with, and so on. Eventually, the author went “Oh shit, I best bring all this together” and ends up with an interesting setpiece and interesting situation, but the reason they’re there is not well-explained. Why is love interest involved at all at this point? The series of events that the book claims is going on as reasons why is just kind of crazy. Would this evil being really bet their life on all this ridiculous bullshit? If his energy is as scarce as is being claimed, it seems like there has to be a more surefire way to get things to happen than what did happen.

It also just really struck me as a book that Brer would love because the main character loves to over-explain things for no reason. He will often just go off and explain a bunch of metaphyiscal whatevers just because he can’t help but blurt out information no matter what is going on. Much like Brer! (Love you!) It’s nice that the magic in the world has been at least somewhat thought out and planned, certainly, but those infodumps just seemed kind of out of place in a lot of situations. I’m not saying it doesn’t fit the character, because it does. It just struck a cord as being so like him, so of course he likes the story. Heh.

I think it’s extremely likely that I have no actual knowledge of genre fiction anymore, and what in it is good. This may really kind of stand out more than I think it does, but I’m not sure. The Atrocity Archive was certainly not a bad book, and if he stopped with the serialization thing from then on in the series, and applied more planning, I think it could really go places. Again, the general world concept is fantastic, and I was enjoying it enough to see it through to the end, even though the narrator of the audiobook was kind of bad. (He delivered jokes in a way that made it painfully clear he had no idea it was a joke, for instance.) But I’m probably not going to break my general not-readingness to continue on with the series or anything. I am the worst holder of a Masters Degree in English, I swear, with all this not-reading I do.

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