When it comes to Keri Arthur’s City of Light, two words: Brain Bleach.
I’m going to be up front and say I could not read the whole thing. I read part of the start, blinked, read the end, cringed, and skipped around some middle bits to see if there was anything worth salvaging out of what had seemed like an interesting world setup.
Aaaaand then I hit the seduction-drugged interrogation-and-murder scene (mind, this is being done by the Designated Protagonist), and walled the book.
Here’s the interesting bits: Vampire vs. humans vs. shifters war, apparently shifters won. Humans created hybrid monsters to fight for them, and the shifters have been hunting them down ever since. Guess what the protagonist is, and who she ends up helping?
Okay, those were promising. Especially given the plot bit about the war set loose other things, that are only held at bay by a constant artificial daylight.
And then we hit how the other main characters in the book treat the protagonist, and that… makes me want to break something.
I don’t care how much angst Urban Fantasies are supposed to pile on their protagonists. I don’t care how many enemies they’re supposed to have. You cannot have other main characters constantly mistreating/backstabbing/trying to kill the protagonist and the entities she cares about, and not have consequences.
And when you have other main characters excusing their behavior with, “well, he suffered a lot in the War,” and “well, we’re not bad people if we destroy your helper-ghosts if you don’t rescue our children, because our children are still alive”….
Yes. Wall time.
There’s a difference between being a long-suffering hero and being a doormat.
I will give the book this much credit. At the end, Tiger tells them to go to hell, she’s not helping them anymore. While not telling them she still plans to rescue the other kids, just without their “help”. That’s good. That’s heroic.
It’s just, to save the book, she should have done that at least a hundred or so pages before, while I still cared.
But what gets to me is that this is at least the 3rd or 4th book I’ve picked up in the past few months that had the same problem: build an interesting world, then make the main character’s life pure hell with no allies.
Making the main character’s life hell is kind of a given for Evil Writers. But a world with no friends and allies, and other supposed “good” guys just using the hero, backstabbing her, and excusing their behavior because she’s “just an X”? Who wants to live in that world? And if we wouldn’t want to live there, why would we want to read it?
I can’t figure out why this stuff is getting published. What are the editors thinking? Do they just have no “ewww!” buttons? Or comprehension of what a sane person can take and still keep living?
It bewilders me. And it makes me very reluctant to go back into a bookstore, except for manga. Sheesh.
Any thoughts on why this keeps happening?