Friday, July 6, 2012

A Matter of Taste?

How is it that two people can have opposite opinions on the same book? Myself and a girl named 'Joyce' read a book called 'Talented'. She rated it 5/5 and I rated it 1/5. Be warned: I have bitter feelings about this book and so this post will be rather negative.

She says that the protagonist, Natalia, 'kicks ass'. In the book Natalia goes on three missions that are detailed. In the first her only contribution is a distraction and she has to be carried out by her teammates. She points out that she failed everyone's expectations. In the second mission she doesn't fight anyone and chokes at her opportunity to finish an assassination. In the third she doesn't kick ass, presay, but mind-control a guy (which, I will admit, is kinda cool). There are only two times she 'kicks ass'; the first is a fight with her teammate that is played more for sexual tension than 'the ability to kick ass' and the second is a simulation.

She says the book is 'readable' when it frequently misses words, and that's its a 'non-stop page turner'. That I can only chalk up to a romantic drama addict because that is what's on most of the pages. The very thing that repealed me might attract someone else. Yet I still have my objection: wish fulfilment. Just on the romance side a hot guy (the book will tell you so many times) is head over heels for the protagonist despite being a lady killer (which book also tells you many times) and the protagonist gets to beat up her cheating boyfriend without consequences of any sort.

She says 'It has an equal portion of adventure, romance, drama, & paranormal attribute'. Before the climax there are only two missions that have any depth to them and even those are brief. Other than that there is a simulation that accomplishes nothing; filler to convince the adventure seekers not to throw the book away. The other 200 some pages are about the pitfalls in the protagonist's love life. There is no 'paranormal' but science fiction and even that receives little attention after the first few chapters.

Finally, the 'exuberant' cliff hanger. Personally, it felt more like a commercial break than a cliff hanger. The protagonist is carted away, again disabled by injury, and her ex-boyfriend reads a note from her new boyfriend that endangers the new boyfriend's family. He decides to give it to the leader out of a sense of family loyalty. Then it ends. There's no resolution to anything. Its not 'exuberant' because it lacks enthusiasm. To me it came of as 'depressing'. I feel Joyce was going for the 'extrememly good' definition.

Our reviews could not be more different. Mine was significantly longer and more in depth than Joyce's; it consisted of little more than a paragraph and mine an essay. A simple matter of taste can not explain the inaccuracies in her review, so what happened?

In the end, I suppose all that matters is that there is an audience that enjoys the book and is willing to pay for that enjoyment. I would still like to know why our reviews are opposites so I thought about it for a while. Then it hit me.

Paranormal Romance; instead of a science fiction plot with a romantic subplot this book is a romantic plot with a science fiction subplot. When I thought about 'Talented' in those terms then the number of postive reviews (including Joyce's) suddenly made made sense. They were reading for the romance while the occasional 'ass kicking' was a nice side dish. I was the opposite; reading for the scant science fiction and annoyed by the vast streches of romance.

 This still doesn't explain why Joyce said 'equal portions' or why Miss. Davis described the central conflict as revenge against a political figure but I suppose one can't sell a book on a trite love triangle anymore. It has to be spiced up with other elements, or maybe its a sign of the times. 'Girl gets the guy and  kicks ass'. That's their taste I guess.

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