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– Monica

Favorite Couple in a Genre Novel

Can’t believe I’ve been talking about genre for the past week. Today’s post is the end of a seven day run, and after today I’m going to take a short break because all the books I’ve read are starting to run together. Which is never a good thing, to be sure!

So what is my favorite couple in a genre novel? Tricky question. Tricky, tricksy. In my head, I automatically separate a romance novel (including paranormal) from any straight-up adventure novel. Why? Well, because I view romance novels as being heavily focused on relationships. For dark fantasy, which is the genre I like to read, I enjoy a good romantic relationship if there’s other things going on in the story. My answer today may surprise you. And I’ll tell you why in a minute.

My favorite couple in a genre novel is…

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Wizard's First Rule by Terry GoodkindRichard Cypher and Kahlan Amnell from the first book in Terry Goodkind’s series called “The Sword of Truth.” The book is dubbed Wizard’s First Rule.

To be clear, they’re my favorite couple — until they get together.

Okay, let me back up for a second and explain this little Gordian knot before your heads explode. The reason why I like this romantic relationship is because it’s one that, from the start, is never supposed to be consummated. They cannot touch one another. In this book, we don’t know how uber-powerful-rare either one of them is. We know they are battling evil and we know they are falling in love in the midst of all these chaotic things.

But they can’t touch. No smooches. Not even a little peck on the cheek. If she did, she would turn Richard into a mindless slave that did whatever she wanted.

To me, that’s impressive worldbuilding and great conflict because there’s a tangible reason why these two kids shouldn’t be together. Kind of like Buffy and Angel. They get happy, Angel loses his soul and changes back into Angelus. So they can never be happy. Ever.

The reason why I said only the first book, is because although this premise is inventive, they eventually get married and discover they’re not as limited as they thought. (If at all.) The first book is, by far, the strongest one in their relationship because their love happens gradually, highlighting how they get together and how they’re vested in one another. As the series continues, the characters become more and more powerful, and the relationship arc begins to look the same, even with the obstacles and other women thrown in their way. The minute they become oh-so-powerful, my interest wanes because of the type of reader that I am. To connect with the characters, I tend to get into those that don’t evolve into (for lack of a better word) gods.

Now, what’s funny about all of this, is that Wizard’s First Rule is Terry Goodkind’s first novel. I thought it was a solid first for his characters and for his work. The story does teeter more on the dark side, so this is more of an adult novel than one I’d recommend for kids.

Previous Days

Most Annoying Character (Type)

Well, I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. Today I’m supposed to talk about my most annoying character, but I’m going to alter that slightly to “type.” It’s not any one particular character, but it’s the way that they are portrayed.

Yeah, okay I’m not a fan of Jar Jar either…but let’s not go there.

There’s a particular thing that bugs me about characters. Useless characters bother me to no end. You know the kind. They’re the ones you wonder why the author threw them in the book when they have no bearing on the plot or feel like an add-on just to get killed. They’re there to highlight the pretty world or culture, but don’t do anything except turn into meat shields or make the main characters look more competent than they really are. They’re a pet, a token, a staple. But you feel nothing and every time they show up you skip through that section to get back to the main plot.

Mind you, I have no problem with a red shirt. Yes, sometimes the pawns-to-the-slaughter are necessary, but I like to have an emotional or a vested interest in the character. Adding in a character to be killed without characterizing the meat shield doesn’t horrify or scare me. It tells me very terrible things are happening, but not to anyone I care about.

Sheesh. I feel like I’m not making any sense. Okay, let me try to explain it another way. Take the news for example. Say a tsunami hits. Terrible thing. Bodies washed up on the beach. People starving. Yes, this is an emotional gut punch. Now, watch an interview the little girl who lost her puppy or the grandmother who managed to survive. Right there, I feel something because I identify with them. I may not have experienced their specific pain, but I relate to them. And it sticks.

Does that make sense? Meat shields for the sake of having meat shields doesn’t do anything for me — even if it’s to express the terrors that lurk in the night. I’m not a fan of gore porn or gratuitous violence for the sake of having it, nor am I a fan of exploring setting for the setting’s sake. I like my plots tight and my characters to have a purpose.

Er… Something like that.

Previous Days

What I Read for Not-So-Guilty Pleasure

Today’s post about genre books is what I read for my guilty pleasure. Since I never feel embarrassed about reading any book, I’m going to call this my “not-so-guilty” pleasure instead. After all, I don’t have a particular book, mind you, but more like a type of read.

It’s hard for me to read books without noting their structure and the techniques an author uses to tell a story. So, to give my mind a break, I turn to a type of book I don’t typically write. Young Adult fiction is tops on that list; I also read romance and mysteries on occasion. Some of these books, like the Faery Tale series by Holly Black, are darker and have more mature or experimental themes than I’ve read in similar stories. Others, like the Harry Potter series, are dark to a point, but a hero (or heroine) always prevails.

When I’m reading for not-so-guilty pleasure, I don’t care if the author followed all the appropriate techniques and did all the right things an author is supposed to do, because I’m reading to have a good time. It’s my “light read” or my “sitting-by-the-beach-drinking-margaritas read.” I’m often more forgiving of a book when I’m not critiquing it, unless there are glaring errors like typos or problems with the voice. First person, for me, can be really hard to read and get into if I’m not grounded in the story. Does this mean those books are bad? Hardly. Typos and grammatical errors aside, my challenge with first and second person narrative isn’t necessarily what other people’s complaints are, for some books were written by popular authors.

With as fast as I read, I can tell how much I’m enjoying a book if I polish it off in one or two nights. The longer it takes for me to read something, the more committed I am to the story, and the more intense the experience. My not-so-guilty pleasure books are those afternoon reads that are typically light-hearted, fun and…of course…full of heroes.

Previous Days

[New Release] Read “The Message” at Bewildering Stories

Hi everyone,

I’m excited to announce my latest short story entitled The Message is available for you to read online at Bewildering Stories. The Message is a work of flash fiction with a dystopian science fiction theme.

The reason why this story is called The Message, is because there’s a hidden communication to the reader embedded in the work. On the surface, it seems innocuous, but is it really? Find out!

After you read my story, I invite you to check out the other fine works in Bewildering Stories, Issue 421.

Thanks everyone!

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