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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A frustrating read,
This review is from: Trick of the Light (Trixa) (Mass Market Paperback)This is the spinoff novel by Rob Thurman, from the same world (more or less) as Cal and Niko. We meet Trixa as she learns of a powerful artefact known as the 'Light of Life' -- something both sides of the moral spectrum: angel and demon, would give anything to possess. But first things first, Trixa actually has to find it. So, as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her loyalty ultimately lies. On the surface this is a solid enough book: intrigue lurks around every corner, almost nothing is what it seems with characters colourful enough not to look out of place in a Wizard of Oz remake. All set against the backdrop of a cataclysmic battle of the war in Heaven. However, dig a little deeper and 'Trick of the Light' whilst enjoyable is riddled with problems.
I had very mixed feelings about this book. I read it months ago as an ebook on my ereader, so I've had a long time to digest the story and have started reading the Cal and Niko series since then; at the time this was the first book I'd read by Rob Thurman. Trixa is the first person narrator in 'Trick of the Light' -- as a character she comes across far too full of herself and doesn't acknowledge herself as having those pesky flaws the rest of us do. Trixa's difficult to relate to anyway because of her free and flighty nature and the ending made this relatability factor even more of an issue. The other characters in general were also difficult to relate to and not necessarily very interesting either. The only character I wanted to see more of was Eligos ('Eli'); a hilarious and charming demon, an unapologetically evil one at that -- no lame brooding for him! His reaction to the ending forever endeared him to me. Leo (I can see a predictable soul mates thing going on there with Trixa *yawn*) and the dynamic duo Zeke and Griffin were amusing enough but I didn't care about them... it was difficult to care about anyone in the book really. The plot itself was paper thin and I had to re-read certain paragraphs because the story moved so oddly at times I was at a loss as to what the characters were supposed to be doing.
Another issue I had with the storytelling was the attempts at humour which veered dangerously between clunky, cliched, trying too hard, and sort of funny. The humour is both a strength and a weakness: I love books that give a meta nod and a wink or dark humour that pervades a gritty novel -- but here there was just far *too* much of it. Trixa is constantly making light of everything, if she can't take a situation seriously how am I supposed to? The attempts at humour were quite hackneyed a lot of the time even when they were funny... it just didn't have the subtlty called for in certain parts of the story. If Thurman tones it down I will enjoy any future outings a lot more! Trixa is certainly no Cal in this department -- the difference is Cal is self-deprecating and retains the underlying innocence that comes with youth, whereas Trixa just came across an annoying know it all. Far too much telling and not enough showing.
The main draw of the novel is the supposed 'huge twist' at the end of the story. It's in all the reviews and on the cover of the book, but it fell a little flat to me not that I wasn't shocked (I was). It's difficult to talk about without spoiling it so I'll leave it there. I should note that the ending wasn't out of nowhere -- it was foreshadowed and hinted at all the way through the novel, but it is somewhat out there. Not the twist I was expecting, I must say. In light of the ending I'm going to read the next book just to see where things go and to see how the author handles these characters. Also because I'm kind of fond of Eli and the worldbuilding. 'Trick of the Light' is not a bad book, even if I could pick out its flaws and I've certainly read worse. The novel kept me engaged to the end and the characters all had unique personalities with the potential for interesting future adventures. There's nothing about it that could not be easily fixed in a sequal.
Overall, a book that delivered on the colourful surface, one underpinned by a fitting darkness yet fails to deliver the high quality wit and sympathetic characters of its parent series. If this is the first book by Rob Thurman that you've come across, I strongly suggest starting with Nightlife (Roc Fantasy), the first in the Cal and Niko series. It's hugely better than this book.
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit of a delayed reaction,
This review is from: Trick of the Light (Trixa) (Mass Market Paperback)I liked this book, but it took a long while for that to happen.
I am a fan of Thurman's storytelling style, for the most part. The narrator of her Leandros series, Cal Leandros, has such an engaging, darkly sarcastic and genuinely funny voice that it's pretty difficult for me to emerge from one of those books without a grin on my face, even if I have nitpicks over characterization or some such.
I did not enjoy narrator Trixa as much, and that really stood in the way of my engaging with the book. She has the same dark sarcasm as Thurman's previous narrator, but without the humor. The self-deprecating aspects of Cal, it turns out, are pretty integral to making some of his comments fly, comments that wouldn't go over so well if he was very impressed with himself. Trixa is VERY impressed with herself, which makes me, at least at first, less inclined to believe her when she tells me -- instead of showing me -- how awesome she is (especially in first-person). Same as with real-life people.
There is a reason for that, it turns out, and the conclusion of the book pretty much redeems everything. But that brings me to the second point which bothers me about this book (and all books that pull this trick). I'll attempt to explain without spoiling, and in the most general of terms.
It's one thing when you have a story where, in service of a "twist," facts are kept from the reader until the very end because the characters themselves don't know. The reader is carried along with them on their journey, discovers things along with them, and gets to vicariously experience the reveal, and all the excitement, or disappointment, or betrayal, or grand fantastic destiny that reveal entails.
When, on the other hand, the big reveal comes to pass and it's something the viewpoint character knew all along...it makes the viewpoint character feel like a liar. Especially in first-person. That's another sort of thing that might work better with a third-person viewpoint, perhaps.
Which might be intentional, actually. Hmmm. Be that as it may, I'd have appreciated it better had there been broader hints, even if the facts were not blatantly stated. (I think I will wind up reading this a second time, a la "The Sixth Sense," to see if those broader hints are actually in there, aside from names-of-great-significance, which I did pick up on. I'm noticing the "out of nowhere" complaint on a couple of other reviews, though.)
At any rate, it's an enjoyable enough read and only suffers by comparison to the author's other series and the character sympathy I already know she can generate, which I missed here. Her secondary characters are completely charming (in a scary freakish way) and I completely bought the explanations of their damage (and appreciated THEIR eventual "reveal," which I thought was more skillfully and sympathetically done). Also, many kudos to the author for getting some ethnic diversity in there -- and in a main character, no less.
I'm still quite curious to see where the series goes next.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Trickxy,
This review is from: Trick of the Light (Trixa) (Mass Market Paperback)Some authors can write characters of both genders. Some can only convincingly write characters of their own gender. And some can only write the opposite one.
Unfortunately Rob Thurman seems to be one of those women who can only write convincing male protagonists, because her first attempt at a female protagonist falls as flat as a dehydrated jellyfish. The first Trickster book "Trick of the Light" has a promising premise and some fascinating supporting characters, but it's riddled with confusing action scenes and a snotty Mary Sue of a heroine.
Trixa Iktomi (wow, a Lakota trickster as a surname... subtle) runs a bar during the day, and hunts demons every night -- one of them murdered her brother, and so she's obviously hunting for the guy whodunnit. What's more, she's searching for the Light of Life which she can trade to Hell for her brother's killer. So when she isn't running her business, she firebombs demon hideouts with her pals Griffin and Zeke.
However, agents of both Heaven and Hell want the Light of Life, and Eden House (a sort of organization run by angels... its influence is never very well defined) is out for it -- as is Solomon, a sexy bad-boy demon who wants in Trixa's pants (of course).
"Trick of the Light" = awesome demon-hunters + typical Snappy Sue heroine + half-baked plot + Judeo-Christian mythos without any belief or pesky God involvement. Honestly, it feels like Rob Thurman had a well-thought-out cast of male characters and a half-formed urban fantasy mythos... and then for some reason, she jammed a Mary-Sueish protagonist firmly in the middle of it all.
The biggest problem is, of course, Trixa -- she's an Action Mary Sue. She's gorgeous, tough, has tri-colored hair (black, bronze AND red), a bunch of phallic weapons, rebellious, has an idiotically inappropriate wardrobe (she boasts about going demon-killing in high heels and a brocaded silk blouse), and she's basically a huge pain-in-the-butt poser. Oh, and she loves blowing things up, presumably because it makes her look cool.
Worst of all, she has a case of "Anita Blake Angst," in which a person who has suffered a single personal tragedy claims to have become Dark, Tough and Oh-So-Cynical because of it -- while surrounded by characters who have had it worse. The worst part is, the supporting cast is actually fascinating -- characters like Zeke, Griffin and Solomon are far more fascinating, tragic and layered than Trixa, but they're all sort of half-fleshed-out.
And since the book is in first-person, we're pretty much stuck with Trixa's inner self-indulgent sarcasm and leaden witticisms ("Who knew laziness would trigger the Apocalypse?"). Thurman's plot is also pretty thin -- we get long stretches of Trixa not doing much at all, punctuated by confusing action scenes, whining about how much Trixa hates Above and everyone connected to it, and long rambling conversations.
"Trick of the Light" has some flickers of promise and some fascinating supporting cast, but the underbaked plot and detestable Mary Sue just tear the bottom out of it.
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Trick of the Light (Trixa) by Rob Thurman (Mass Market Paperback - 5 Nov 2009)