Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: Soulless

Augh, sorry about that guys, I posted on twitter saying this review is delayed but if you don't follow me there and didn't get the message I'm sorry, I was preparing for a con last week and just ran out of time to do that and update here (and the review is up late tonight since now I'm trying to catch up with everything/look for photos of me and my friends, people upload their photos fast these days). So the schedule for the rest of the week is thus, either a movie or anime review Wednesday, comic on Thursday, book on Friday and then back to a regular update schedule next week, I'll even try to write up Monday's review early so that doesn't get delayed.
So, Soulless! I've been trying to read this book for over a year but, despite the fact that it's in the catalog in my local library, I don't think they actually have the book and I hadn't checked to see if the other libraries had it instead. But recently I found out that there was an ebook copy of the book and decided to try that instead and was pretty pleased with it, I'll talk more about that after the main body of the review.

Soulless by Grail Carriger
  Don't have that much to say about the cover, mostly because I'm still embaressed about the time I thought someone had stolen the image (I believe it was Clockwork Couture) and it turns out that Carriger got the image from them and with their permission. The image just fit the book so well that I didn't even stop to think that it was a pre-existing image, which does show how well the picture works for the book.
Summary: Alexia Tarabotti is a bit of an odditity since she is a 25 year old spinster living in Victorian London and fairly happy with her life. But she's actually even stranger than that, in a world with vampires and werewolves and where the amount of "soul" people have determines if they will survive the transformation to the undead, Alexia is soulless and a mere touch from her renders all the undead normal again. All of this culminates in her getting entangled

The Good: While some people may debate this* Soulless is set in a steampunk world (with lots of nice details about the setting) with a more supernatural conflict which is a nice blend of genres and fans of either should enjoy the book (romance fans should also love this story since that's also a major part of the book). I found it to be a pretty quick read and something was always going on in every scene and the romance managed to strike a nice balance between smutty^ and slutty so it a fun little book to read.
The Bad: At times the prose just feels a little off. It has a tendency to repeat itself, the pacing doesn't always feel quite right and sometimes the characters just act/react in strange ways. It almost feels a little too unpolished to be a real book and more like a story you could read online (really good but needs some oversight to make it even better). The plot is a bit predictable, especially with how the romance progresses, so if anyone is reading this book with the hope that the blending of genres might produce something really new and exciting I'm sad to say that nothing really new came from it.  
As for the e-reader, I downloaded an e-reader from Adobe and was fairly pleased with it. I could make the pages/text bigger which was nice and could add in bookmarks to make finding my place easier. I do wish I could scroll down the page (since I like keeping whatever text I'm reading towards the middle of the page) but no matter how I tried to do that (keyboard, touchpad, the side bar) it would just go to the next page instead which was a bit frustrating. All in all however the reader worked much better than I expected and I will be sure to check out other e-book only books my library has in the future.

 *just came across some blog post debating if Soulless "bustlepunk" not "steampunk" which just sounds like an awful lot of nitpicking to me
^which I suppose shows this isn't a YA book, some people get pissy if a YA book even has something as tame as kissing in it

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