Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ahhhh...That's Better

So, Queen of the Tearling didn't really work for me. But, shortly after completing it, I read The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, and everything that didn't work for me in the Johansen was "fixed" in the Pearson. The plots of the two novels aren't really similar at all and, if they weren't both fantasies that I read close together, I'd likely not be comparing them at all. But, I did read them close together and, while I didn't hate the Johansen, it was a deeply flawed novel, in my opinion. The Pearson isn't perfect (I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect novel), but the elements I found troublesome in the Johansen--world-building and character-development chief among them--were so well done here as to create, for me, a startling contrast.

While very, very different in their approaches to creating such, both novels take place on a post-technical Earth, in a society vaguely medieval in nature. However, where the world-building in QotT was vague, with only sporadic clues as to how the old world ended and the new one began TKoD without spending excessive page count on back story, still manages to convey exactly why technology no longer works in her world and how society first began to rebuild itself. The characters in Kiss are fully-realized; her women are strong and capable without sliding into Mary Sue territory; both male leads have their attractions,but also some big, big secrets and flaws; her "villains" seem less like over-the-top mustache-twirlers than deeply committed, possibly misguided people whose agenda doesn't necessarily align neatly with that of our heroine. If you're looking for a sweeping fantasy of a post-tech human society, I can't recommend The Kiss of Deception highly enough. It is a YA novel, in contrast to the Johansen, which is being marketed to an adult audience, but it is, in my opinion, far more mature than QotT and worth the read.

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