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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

a review this negative deserves its very own entry

Proof I'm not stacking the deck in favor of the favorable reviews, right here. (Slight spoilers, and Matthew is stung by the description of himself.)

Ouch. Sorry about that, man. I mean, yeah, they're not a lovable bunch, but I didn't mean to bore you. *g*

On the other hand, his plot synopsis is one of the better ones I've read. A careful reader! Do I really do that dialogue thing? Because I'm used to getting yelled at for breaking up my dialogue with way too many action tags. Hmm.

*stares at Undertow suspiciously.*


I'm not clicking over (since I'm still reading it, and would prefer not being spoiled), but what sort of dialogue complaints does he have?

The only dialogue that's bothered me so far was during a conversation between Seeker and Morgan in which Seeker asked something that just came out as too Ren Faire Lite (I'll try to look it up when I get home). Otherwise, no dialogue has knocked me out of the story that I can recall.
Oh, here, I'll quote it out for you:

Part of this is because of Bear's writing style. She has two quirks that stand out in particular. First, she hates attributing dialog. A conversation between two characters will go on for a page and a half, with maybe one "she said" at the beginning to start things off, and few (if any) over the next couple of pages. I know that some people hate the word "said," but it's there for a purpose - to help your readers. If a reader has to keep going back to the beginning to trace who-said-what, then you're doing something wrong.

Her second quirk (if you can call it that) is to throw a near-endless series of details at the reader, with little explanation until much later. Her novels truly start in medias res, but she doesn't do enough in this story to make the reader feel a part of the world - it feels like you're in a foreign country and you've turned on a documentary in the middle. You feel like a confused outsider.

*g* Elaine sucks at the castle talk, it's true.

(I had a bunch of fun in the second book with people catching Kit's accent.)

It's safe for you to read the spoilers if you're past, oh, chapter 5 or so. I suspect he didn't get much beyond the Hungry Tiger.
I haven't noticed any huge areas like that so far -- I did see some points where you went about 8-10 back-and-forths without any attribution, but in most cases, there were other clues.

I see where he's coming from on the latter "quirk," as it did take me chapter or two to decide if I was reading about an alternate universe* in which the fae intermingle with human culture, or a more traditional "magic and fae are still secret" world.

*Yes, I know that all novels are about "alternate universes."
This is true.

And, um... as for the latter. Well. Keep reading.
On the dialog thing, yes, you do it sometimes. Not as bad as that reviewer made it out but there were a couple of times in B&I that I had to go back and figure out who said what.

Normally it was not a problem, as most of the characters could be told apart by their speaking style alone.

And yes, I'll get my (short) reviews of B&I and Chains up soon.
Well, there ya go. Something to be aware of. Thanks!
Heinlein did that a lot. He also had three-page spurts where there was ONLY dialog, but from the dialog you could infer all kinds of amusing things about what was going on physically (often sex).
heh...well, you can't win them all.

Reading "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel" was agony for me. Boring, uninteressting and the only reason I didn't fling the book across the room was that so many people loved it. So I finished it - and still didn't like it.

For a bad review it wasn't scatchy or unhelpful, though. I've seen worse. And I really must start reading those books of yours. Actually the plot as he explains it sounds very interesting. :)
Well, yeah, it was a great bad review. The book didn't work for him. (I mean, it wasn't as much fun as the "this book totally got up my nose!" bad reviews, which I live for) and you absolutely can't win them all.

If you want to try it out for free, the first three chapters are up on my website.
Negative - but thoughtful! As stated above, kind of a "positive negative review."

In fact, it makes me want to begin reading this book *immediately* -- yep, I'll go start those 3 chapters on your website -- because he describes things so clearly, I can well imagine how I I might see exactly the same thing and find it, not frustrating, but intriguing.

In fact, I've had this kind of response to books I later came back to and loved ... because a lot of my response to a book is *my* response, neh? Thus the book's readability at a given time is also, largely, my read-ability. A book is perfect for me at a particular time, just as a music CD is, or a video. The next time may be quite different.

Thanks for posting! (and yeh, those long stretches w/o dialog tags tend to bug me, too.) BTW.
It's a good bad review, because it alerts people whose tastes are different from the reviewer's.


Her second quirk (if you can call it that) is to throw a near-endless series of details at the reader, with little explanation until much later. Her novels truly start in medias res, but she doesn't do enough in this story to make the reader feel a part of the world - it feels like you're in a foreign country and you've turned on a documentary in the middle. You feel like a confused outsider.

To which I simply respond, "Yes, yes, that's what I like about fantasy, do it some more."

Also, the fey of Tam Lin? They make the fey of Tam Lin look as if they don't even know which pant leg to put on first. 8-)

*g* I should email you the two backstory novelettes, shouldn't I?

Everything I know about faerie I learned from Brian Froud and Child Ballads....
:: sends hugs to Sensitive Ponytail Guy ::

and I disagree that presenting reasons for each side in a conflict is the same as trying to make the reader supportive of both sides

:: shrugs ::

different strokes for different readers, I guess
Watch out. Sensitive ponytail guy is a mass-murderer....

Yeah, but he's cute :P
Good to know you have your priorities in order!

Actually I didn't find the way that you played both sides of the confrontation a bad thing at all. I like knowing that not everyone is bad because they've just been declared that way. It only goes to prove that humans are well human. And if the fae have been kidnapping the human/fae crosses to repopulate their numbers then you'll have similar issues.

I felt that it displayed the issues with the humans on both sides rather well, and brought up the question "If you could, would you keep magic in the world?"

Personally? I would. But then I'm going to marry an author, have many friends who create magic worlds and futuristic ones and I love the critters. I'm crazy ;P
Well, there's one question. Would you rather have... magic is the wrong word, really. Would you rather have the numinous in your life, or would you rather be safe?
I'm probably the wrong person to ask that to. :) The world is never safe. It doesn't matter if it has numinous in it or not. You're always only as safe as you can make yourself. So I'd definately take the numinous, but then I like a little craziness and spontineity in my life.

But yes, I agree with the question that it brings up. What would you pick?
Let's just say, I'm not the sort that believes ladders should also be useful as reading material.

Forgive, I just woke up a little bit ago and am a bit dumber than normal. Reading material?
I think he's maybe a little misguided, but then I think he made the right choice in the end. Of course, I always prefer a little fae in my life....
Is it horrible that I'm snickering at the face Matthew would make about being called "Sensitive Ponytail Guy"?

Poor Matthew. I'm so bad to him. *g*
Matthew has just abandoned any hope of dignity or shred of masculine ego at this point.

And I'm just going to humiliate him more, next book.


comic books.

(also, he says that this guy obviously never met emo-boy.)
such is the writer's lot.


I don't find her bland, at all. But she's very... reserved, or contained. Contained is a good word. She feels like she's learned the very hard way to keep everything she's feeling or thinking very tightly wrapped up, and smoothed over, because anything that sticks up or out is a handle or a vulnerability...

just like Matthew and the obsessive tighten-the-ponytail-zipper-the-jacket drill...

*sits back and admires the Shiny Mind of the Bear*

...back to Elaine. Some people can do the mirror-egg outside and have sticking-up-inside bits; Elaine can't, or at least doesn't. So she's very smooth and hard to get a hold of (even when you're in her head with her), and tries to keep anyone, including the reader, from getting a hold of her.

Which I suppose looks bland to some people. Not to me, but de gustibus non est disputandem.

Re: Elaine

As an aside, the whole thing about tight knots and buttoned clothing being a defense against fairies is English folklore.

Also, Matthew is a bit prissy. *g* And arch.