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Steampunk? More Like

I had some unexpected free time after work yesterday, and as I was walking home, I passed the train station Waldenbooks (our train station has magical glass walls, so its insides are visible). It said most of their stock was 50% off, so, despite still working on about four books, and having an insane number on my shelves to finish, I went in.

And guess what was left! After all the manic shoppers and bargain-hunters and slow browsers had gone through, they left me a copy of Rules of Civility! Happy day! For those unaware of it, Raych at books i done read recommended it out the wazoo, and as I highly respect Raych and her love of writing things in caps (it's really the only way to go), I put it on my to-read list and put it on hold at the library, but it was taking FOREVER, so owning it now is excellent. Also, look at that cover. How can you not want to own that book? It's got a '30s lady reclining! That's what I want to do all the time! Only without the Great Depression and segregation and all that other stuff. Nope, just me and my chaise longue, with some guy in an uncomfortable chair next to me, and both of us looking fantastic.

I've also actually finished some books in the last few days, which is crazy. They are Soulless by Gail Carriger and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

Here's the thing: I really, really love steampunk. Or at least I want to love it. I'd never read a steampunk novel before Soulless, and it doesn't seem super-steampunky in any case, because it's mainly about vampires and werewolves and having tea, and dirigibles are just mentioned in passing, as well as some brass goggles. But I was pretty gung ho about this book since it was labeled steampunk, and then I read it and was generally disappointed. Alexia Tarabotti (the heroine) seems like she'll be awesome, but she kind of keeps coming up short. Also, she and Lord Maccon (the dude she's secretly into) have this weird relationship that's basically romance novely, which is weird because you're like " I reading about vampires and werewolves in Victorian England, or am I reading about two people gettin' it on? I don't object to either, but I thought I was reading the former, and now I don't care about the plot (which is super-lame anyway) because I feel like I'm reading fanfic, which means the plot is irrelevant."

As my friend Julie said, "Least Convincing Will-They-Won't-They Ever." And there was also this part: "She was nothing more than a soulless spinster, lacking both subtlety and grace. Lord Maccon was a peer of the realm, Alpha of his pack, owner of a considerable quantity of property, and, well, somewhat stunning."

My Kindle notes say "Smacking of Twilight! Smacking of Twilight!" in much the same tone as one would read "Danger! Danger!", because Miss Tarabotti is supposed to be this empowered (for Victorian times) individual, and the second she's around this guy, she gets a tremendous inferiority complex that reminds me an uncomfortable amount of Bella Swan mooning over Edward's innumerable perfections. I quote from Twilight: "'Well, it would be nice if I could find just one thing you didn't do better than everyone else on the planet.'"

Ah, realistic characterization.

Unless you're looking for hot and heavy action in Victorian clothes (and who isn't?), I'd give it a miss.

As for Beauty Queens, I hate to give it short shrift, but I don't like taxing your attention spans. I agree with everyone else. It was light, it was fun, it had some really good messages, and it's made me want to read more Libba Bray. She's hilarious, and really creative.


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