Saturday, September 7, 2013

Book Review: Without A Summer

So, I know I had said I wasn't particularly interested in reading more novels in this series since I suspected that nothing was really going to change from story to story but, well, it was sitting in the new books section of my library and looked really nice and shiny! Plus it had a colorful cover, yep I don't have a really good reason for why I picked it up anyway.

Without A Summer by  Mary Robinette Kowal

Summary: Jane and Vincent are back in England and taking private glamural commissions again which takes them out to London during the season and Jane invites her sister along. While trying to make sure her sister has enough to do Jane begins to hear rumors of something involving the Catholics which may or may not be related to the overly chilly year they are having, a bit of misfortune that same have started blaming on the glamourists.

The Good: I can safely I've never seen fiction set during "the year without a summer" before, although knowing the true cause of the bad weather (I was already familiar with the disaster and figured it out as soon as I glanced at the summary) did take out some of the tension. I did like how Kowal used it to recreate similar protests and social upheaval of the real 1800s, most of which I hadn't been aware of until I looked at the notes in the back and that's one of my favorite things about alternate histories, taking a real world issue, changing it a bit to fit the setting and yet in the process informing the reader in such a way that they don't realize it's happening.

The Bad: I was more or less correct, after the charming first volume it seems as if the books are starting to fall into a routine (Jane learns of a plot, suspects the worst, it turns out to not be the worst but more communication could have helped even more) and I don't like routine in my books, if I want to read the same idea over I'll go reread a book I already love. So yet again, technically and story-wise there's nothing wrong here but character wise I am starting to get bored, although I'm not sure how much character development actually is appropriate for fully grown adults.

In the end I'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars since while I did enjoy it more than the previous book I still feel like the original book stands strongest on it's own. I've heard that Kowal plans to have even more books, I suppose it must be selling well, and I guess that if I come across any more of them in the library I'll pick them up but otherwise I won't be going out of my way to read them. 

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