01 March 2008
I decided to read The Rest Falls Away based on a blogger friend's recommendation, as that usually doesn't steer me wrong. However it worked out not so well this time. I usually don't review a book that I don't enjoy as it seems to prolong the misery of reading it; I really just want to put the book behind me and get on with another better story. However, I'll take a few moments to point out some of the glaring problems that bothered me in this book -
First, I had some credibility problems - a few moments that broke my trust in the author's narrative
1) The young female protagonist refers to a "loose ribbon in her dress" when speaking to her dancing partner. The novel is set during uber-prudish Victorian England; even if the heroine is anomolously unprudish, still she would be aware of social niceties and expectations and would not refer to such a racy matter as the state of one's dress in mixed company. Heck, this was an era when people could get all flushed and bothered talking about a well-turned table leg, for cry-eye-eye.
2) At one point, the heroine introduces a male companion with whom she is found to her developing love interest as "my cousin." Again, this shows a certain anachronism; in Victorian times, certain classes of people married cousin to cousin at regular intervals. So, introducing a suspiciously close male friend as a cousin would not diffuse matters, it would exacerbate them.
Next, I had a problem with the realism of an event -
3) In the same evening, the heroine is attacked by a vampire and bitten on the neck. There are four puncture wounds, we are told, and she has lost enough blood to be weak from blood loss. However, she manages to cover the wound 'with a strategically placed lock of hair' and make her way out of the building with her injury undetected. Most teenagers, even with today's modern conveniences of hair gel and hour long toilette, can't even hide a hickey. It stretches the credulity to think that this heroine could perform this feat. I found the vampire slaying more credible. Would it not have been less risky to simply have the heroine button up her cloak to hide the wound?
Last, an Ace is discarded uselessly -
4) there is a build up in the first chapters about the heroine's upcoming vis bulla ceremony. What is it? How does it work? Yet, when the moment arrives, it is drastically underplayed and lame - it falls very flat and the heroine, Victoria, reflects no surprise or feeling at all regarding the event. Compare the vis bulla ceremony with, for example, Phaedre receiving her marque in Kushiel's Dart. (I previously reviewed Carey's series very briefly.) Phaedre revels in the physical sensations involved, she is savoring the experience. Victoria, on the other hand, blandly reports the event as though it were happening to someone else, and seems to feel it not at all.
On a positive note, this author's website is pretty cool. I did like one character, the protagonist's Aunt, though I thought she was underdeveloped.
And in the end, that's how I felt about Victoria; I felt she was bland, and I felt for her story not at all. I'm sad; I really wanted to like this story, but couldn't.