Friday Book Review – Better Part of Darkness

betterpartcover

An unlikeable main character is the death of many a book, and it’s one of the biggest causes of death for this one. Charlie Iforgotherlastname is indecisive, recklessly and pointlessly violent, mean, and a horrible parent. She curses a lot, and it makes her sound like an idiot. There are people who curse a lot and still manage to sound like adults, and then there are losers like Charlie who just sound like a seven-year-old trying to sound “adult.” The emphasis is either lost or wearisome or both.She lets her child make life decisions for her and threatens, in graphic and hostile detail, to kill her partner for absolutely no reason at effing all.

She flails back and forth, backpedalling in ways that could have easily been edited out.  This book is so racked with indecision that it’s practically a theme. Charlie can’t even issue a declarative statement without clarifying it, generally with a contradicting statement. Here’s where she makes a nasty death threat without real provocation:

“She’s not dead.”
Immediately, I felt for her pulse. “I swear to God, Hank, I’ll put a bullet in your belly and send you back to Elysia if you’re messing with me.”
“Jeez, Charlie, give me some credit, will you? I wouldn’t kid you about this.”
Emma loved Amanda like any devoted little sister would. She also adored Hank. And I knew that if this affected her, then Hank wouldn’t mess with me on something so personal.

My brain whirs. Why did she blow up so violently when she had zero reason to think he was kidding? It’s like, “I WILL &#$@-ING KILL YOU IF YOU ARE KIDDING” / “That’s stupid, I wouldn’t do that, and you know it.” / “OH YEAH I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN YOU WOULD NEVER DO THAT YOU ARE LIKE A BROTHER TO ME.”

It’s just an incredibly impassioned outburst for something she just let go without pause. Also, the grammar BURNS. I literally got a headache from reading this. The writing is so juvenile that it looks like a sixteen-year-old wrote it. Which, if it had been, would also explain the overwrought emotions and horniness overriding sense.

Speaking of the overwrought emotions… Charlie is exhaustingly DRAMATIC. About everything. She’s never mildly irritated, she is EXASPERATED, UGGGHHHH. Never sceptical, always arms-flailingly DISMISSIVE. And any time she can think of an excuse to be hostile (which is all the dang time), she will threaten to murder you and your entire family. This is not “kick-ass” it’s stupid.

You know what else is not kick-ass? Being unable to make a decision on your freaking own. Charlie doesn’t even make bad decisions. The one time she made a decision, she let her daughter talk her out of it… and it wasn’t even a real discussion. It basically went like this:

Charlie: Do you think I should transfer to a desk job?
Emma: Le gasp! If you did that, you wouldn’t be the mother I know and love! And also no one else is capable of protecting the city except you! Besides, you promised to solve my friend’s case that showed up on like page two.
Charlie: Oh yeah. Maybe I’ll transfer after the case is solved.
Emma: LOL ur so funny as if I would even let you.

Bullied out of her decision by an eleven-year-old for whom she is responsible. And of course, this is right after she allowed herself to be roped into a passionate snog with her ex who was RESPONSIBLE FOR HER DEATH. I’m not particularly bad-ass in my own opinion, but if my husband had practised black magic, cheated on me with a sorceress, and then that sorceress tried to wipe out her competition by murdering me, AND I was lucky enough to be returned to life and divorce him? I would get a restraining order that kept him two STATES away from my child and me, and if he ever showed up in my house I’d shoot his ass in self defence.

What does Charlie do? She lets him have completely unsupervised visits with their daughter. I think the guy has partial custody. She comes home to find this man STANDING IN HER KITCHEN. And her reaction is to let him talk about how they should totes get back together, baby, and then makes out with him almost to the degree of sex.

If I had had a physical copy of this book, I think I would have thrown it in a toilet.

To wind down a little… The exposition is terrible. The author just vomits out world-building and character backstory whenever she feels like it without a decent foundation for either the details or when they are exposited. It didn’t help that the world was fairly generic urban fantasy, After the Masquerade Has Been Unmasqued style.

Also, re: HER DEATH. Pro tip: Start the story at the most interesting part of the character’s life. I would have so much rather read the book that led up to her death than to start with the recovery of a woman who can’t even make bad decisions and yet gleefully insults therapy. There isn’t even the excuse that the story begins in medias res, since it starts with a cop and her partner coming to check out a body. That is where the mystery tends to start, if they don’t cover the victim’s story a little more in depth first. This is about as in medias res as “Il était une fois…”

Okay, I’m starting to quote French fairy tale tradition. This book. ARGH. I just can’t. I have lost the will to can.

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