Thursday, June 17, 2010

Soulless


Soulless by Gail Carriger. 2009. Orbit. 384 pages.

Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening. Private balls were never more than middling amusements for spinsters, and Miss Tarabotti was not the kind of spinster who could garner even that much pleasure from the event. To put the pudding in the puff: she had retreated to the library, her favorite sanctuary in any house, only to happen upon an unexpected vampire.

I wanted to love this one. I did. I wanted to feel something close to love. But I didn't. That's not to say I thought it was awful--it wasn't. I think the very things that I didn't enjoy will be the very things that other readers will love most.

Soullless and I got off to a good start. I loved the early scenes in the novel: Alexia in the library confronting the vampire, Alexia dealing with the aftermath of the vampire's death, Alexia battling it out verbally with Lord Maccon. I enjoyed the world-building of the first hundred pages--seeing how Alexia fit in (and didn't quite) with London society, and not just Alexia, but how vampires and werewolves fit into London society. I loved the writing too. There were places in the text where I felt certain that this would be a book I loved.

Alexia doesn't quite fit in with the mortals or the supernaturals. She's soulless; her soullessness neutralizes the "superpowers" of vampires and werewolves. (Her touch can take away a vampires fangs, or change the werewolf back into human form. Temporarily of course.)

There is a mystery to be solved. There is danger too. But for me this danger, this threat, almost takes a backseat to the romance. Because a little over hundred pages Soulless turns into a romance book. You know, a romance book.

For readers who love romance novels, for readers who really love romance novels--especially paranormal romances--there is much to love in Soulless. And this new direction will probably be a very welcome one. You may even think, finally, this story is getting somewhere. It's about time.

Mini-spoiler.

It becomes more about how long can Alexia keep her hands off a certain someone--or a certain someone keep his hands off her--than anything else.

Bigger spoiler.

After Alexia is caught in a compromising situation, it becomes the oh-so-familiar story of:

Well, I don't want to force you to marry me against your will.

You're not forcing me to marry you.

No, you're just saying that, you don't really want to marry me.
Yes, I do.
No, you don't.
Yes, I do.
No, you don't. I'm not beautiful enough.
Yes, you are.
No, I'm not...

And, for me, once it goes there...it doesn't really matter that Alexia has fallen for a supernatural. Soulless could be one of a hundred romances. Not that Lord Maccon is like every other hero in a romance novel, he's not. He's Scottish. (A plus in my books). And he's a werewolf. (I'm indifferent to werewolves, so no plus for me. But hey, for some readers, maybe this appeals?) And Alexia isn't quite your typical heroine. She is brave and fierce in some ways. But why does she have to be so down on herself? Why can't she realize her own value? her own worth?

I don't know about you, but I find it hard to be worried while reading a romance book. Mystery or no mystery. Danger or no danger. I'm not really worried about any "threats" to the happily ever after ending. I suppose, there may be romance novels out there that have surprises, but I haven't found many.

Expectations. I think I expected Soulless to be more of a fantasy than a romance novel. The clever cover may have contributed to my expectations. (There wasn't a half-dressed couple on the cover. And it wasn't filed in the romance section of the library.) Reading is subjective, and this may be more than enough fantasy for some readers. And other readers may see it as more balanced than I did.

In conclusion, I liked it enough to finish it. I wanted to know what happened. But I'm not sure I'll continue on with this series.

Other reviews: Booklust, Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog, Steph Su Reads, Sam's Book Blog. Biblio File.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Christina T 3:38 PM  

I do think this is more of a paranormal romance rather than a fantasy. I just read Changeless and I liked it (you might like it more than Soulless). I felt like Changeless was less of a romance and more of a paranormal (although there were romance elements it didn't feel like the most important part because the guy has already won the girl).

Very good review!

Julie P 10:04 PM  

Probably going to pass on this one. Thanks for sharing, Becky...

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

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I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

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