shinyjenni: Polly; text reads "now let me tell you 'bout the way she looked, the way she'd act and the colour of her hair" (polly way she looked)
[personal profile] shinyjenni
The Gathering Storm - Kate Elliott
Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell
Deep Space Nine: Prophecy and Change ed Marco Palmieri
Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh
First Class Murder - Robin Stevens
The Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
Maresi - Maria Turtschaninoff
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen - Lois McMaster Bujold
A Fatal Thaw - Dana Stabenow
Fans of the Impossible Life - Kate Scelsa
Spectacles: A Memoir - Sue Perkins
Nightwing: Love and Bullets
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Bernice Summerfield and the Glass Prison - Jacqueline Rayner
Strange Star - Emma Carroll
The Good Immigrant ed. Nikesh Shukla
Hellblazer: Black Flowers

I read a lot of things this month, but apparently used up all my words on complaining about Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. /o\

Cards on the table: I am never exactly objective in these posts, and am going to be even less so than usual here. I've been putting off reading this book as I was pretty sure it was going to be a het romance, and as I've mentioned about three or four hundred times, my current default reaction to het romance is "deep boredom".

...friends, it was worse than I'd feared. This book was a deeply frustrating reading experience, because I would have loved a book about Aral, Jole and Cordelia navigating their relationship, even if told through flashback and retcon, and that was not even remotely what I got. It was like being shown a delicious smoked salmon sandwich and then being given a cheese one instead; I'll eat the cheese sandwich and be glad it's not tuna mayonnaise or something, but I'm super bored of cheese and I'm really going to resent it for not being the smoked salmon one. :/ I was ready to put up with the het romance for the background context, but... there's a hole in this book where Aral's relationship with Jole should have been. It never convinced me that it was ok for Aral to have formed a relationship with a junior officer, and to start a new relationship without checking in with Cordelia in advance and it never convinced me that they had anything worth Jole having to keep a major part of his life secret - he doesn't seem to be close to anyone outside Aral and Cordelia (yes, it's mentioned that he's friends with Alys and Illyan, but they were Aral and Cordelia's friends first, and given that Jole himself never seems to think about them, I don't buy that they were particularly close), and that's just so sad.

I got almost no sense at all of Jole and Aral as a couple, to the point where it felt like their relationship was just a plot device to allow Bujold to start the story with Cordelia and Jole already emotionally invested in one another. It felt like a shortcut, and that hit on another issue I had with this book: everything was so easy. There were no stakes and therefore nothing to root for. Even Jole's career vs Cordelia-and-babies dilemma didn't work, because the book never convinced me that a) he cared that much about his career or b) that the universe wasn't going to align to give Cordelia exactly what she wanted. (I mean, I am basically in favour of Cordelia getting what she wants, but I like the process of it happening to be more interesting.)

The other thing is, I love the Vorkosigan saga and I've wanted it to be better at queer representation for a long time. I had hoped that this might be a start, but really, it wasn't. Not least because it was also threaded through with so many gender normative asides. WHY. Be better, book. Be braver and more radical. Be the book I wanted you to be.

This isn't to say it was all bad - there were some really nice moments, especially the comedy bits with Jole juggling various Sergyar responsibilities, which played very much to Bujold's strengths - but I wanted so much more from it.

Didn't finish:
The Last Kingdom - Bernard Cornwell
I really liked Cornwell's Arthurian trilogy when I read it lo these many years ago, but I just didn't connect with this one. Nothing wrong with it, I just couldn't get into it, and I have so many other things to read that I didn't feel like sticking with something I wasn't into.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-02 09:56 pm (UTC)
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
From: [personal profile] raven
oh my god, Jenni, thank you for this. I agree with every word of it. I really, really wanted Gentleman Jole to be a good book, and then it just - wasn't. It wasn't a queer story, or a story about queers - it was a het romance with allegedly-queer set-dressing, and if that weren't enough damning criticism, a story without any of the basic elements of narrative. Conflict! Actual stakes! I just. No. I hated this book and I really didn't want to.


shinyjenni: Wonder Woman deflects bullets with her bracelets (Default)
incorrigibly frivolous

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