Different Does Not Mean ‘Better’

It’s getting really hard to read this book. For a main character intended to be an inherently gifted assassin, I find there are alarmingly frequent scenes and moments in which I am painfully more knowledgable about fighting.

Two notable instances come mind. One was when I groaned and pointed out that a smart fighter wouldn’t take a blow to the stomach to test an opponent’s strength. That invites the possibility of being winded. Better to block the blow as opposed to dodging it. This way, one is prepared, yet still able to assess what one faces.

The other actually happened a couple of times. It’s the fault of movies and such, I’m certain. Visual media commonly depicts fights with blows to the head. This isn’t a good idea. An experienced fighter, especially one who has a focus on causing death, would know that the head is both a vulnerable target and a stupid thing to punch.

There are a lot of little bones in the human hand. Punching someone in the jaw is likely to break one or more of them. Why risk that when one can disable a man by kicking him hard enough in the knee?

Anyway, one of the times this lack of knowledge on the part of the author was mind-bendingly stupid was when the two combatants, meant to be training together (and therefore not bearing lethal intent), had to stop due to a head injury. The main character, A TRAINED AND MAGICALLY GIFTED ASSASSIN, was surprised that a booted kick to the head had incapacitated her friend to such a degree. Seriously, taken aback.

This girl is so unforgivably stupid. Sigh.

Anyway, about the post title. As the narrative needed a break from the poorly researched “training,” the two characters got to know each other. What’s-her-face proved herself more of an obnoxious cow by insisting that the guy answer her questions and insults him when he points out that he’s trying to eat. So she’s a selfish stupid brat and he’s a doormat. Yup, this is the designated couple.

If that were not enough proof of a future “love” connection (never mind the anvilicious sexual tension that is so contrived as to nearly resemble something else entirely), a large part of that conversation consists of her privately thinking about ostracisation and him comparing himself to his brothers in that awful way books do that sort of thing.

This all translates to:

Her: People like us are outcast. I mention this constantly, so that the readers will remember we are special. It will also make them feel sympathy for us, because it’s so lonely. The fact that I’m also cold and actively unfriendly and judgemental doesn’t enter in.

Him: I just finished saying that my brothers and I have always been on good terms. But everyone knows that the best way to look good is to imply that one is better than others. So I’ll talk with barely veiled disparity of my brothers’ political ambition to highlight how great I am for being different from them. No one will notice that this is biased if I speak with jolly indifference.

It’s obnoxious. Being different does not automatically make a good character. Certainly not a likeable one. Look at Scrappy Doo.

…that’s all I really have to say, innit?

(it also bugs the crap out of me that the other guy who is crushing on the girl does nothing wrong, yet she appears to feel completely justified in mentally accusing him of wrongs and openly speaking ill of him to others)

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