Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rob Thurman

Author of: Nightlife, Moonshine and Madhouse. I recently finished all three in a mad reading rush. Trust me, when you start you can't stop yourself from reading. Nightlife begins with a rather intense scene imported from the end of the book. You know what's coming. So you have to read feverishly to get there in real time. And the journey is well worth the effort. The story is interesting, the twists unexpected, the characters... well, if you like Supernatural you've got to read these books. As much as I enjoy watching Sam and Dean argue about, well, everything, Cal and Niko Leandros have something they lack. True brotherly love. Dean may be willing to die for Sam, but he's not willing to tell Sam how he feels about that. Cal and Niko know each other so well that when things go wrong they can't hide it from each other. And neither one is willing to let his brother suffer alone. Does that make them weak, effeminate or lame? Hell no. It makes them real.

Names are also important to the story.
Caliban - the monster born of a witch and an demon from Shakespeare's The Tempest
Niko - called Cyrano (de Bergerac - think Roxanne) by his brother for his big nose
Cerberus - the 3 headed dog that guards Hades, though only 2 headed in the novel
I've put my own interpretations on these next two names
Promise - because she's the promise of everything 'normal' Niko gave up by deciding to protect his brother: a girlfriend, a home, a family, which is suddenly in his reach again
Delilah - synonymous with betrayal, and the werewolf Cal uses to betray both himself and Georgina

Here the spoilers start, so if you don't know who Delilah is, stop reading.

As much as I liked the books I was left rather disturbed by the ending of the third book. Not because the ending was bad or unexpected. You could see it coming a mile away. It was disturbing because we're so trained to want and thereby expect the fairy tale ending that the fact that Cal purposely destroyed any chance he had at happiness with Georgina comes with a shock. The logical side of me congratulates what he did (not HOW he did it, mind you. I thought that was despicable, but WHAT he did). Whether his sacrifice in pushing Georgina away for her safety will be worth it, will be decided in the next book (when we see if the Auphe attack her to hurt him or not. If they do, than he's simply denied himself happiness and hurt her for no reason). The way he chose to do it, by sleeping first with Charm and then with Delilah, was, as we saw at the end of Madhouse, as detrimental to him as it was to her. The emotional side of me curses him for ruining what he could have had with Georgina. It berates him for not at least discussing his fears with her, and seeing what she thought of them (it was clear she wouldn't look into the future and see if they ended up with kids, but at 18 it wasn't clear she would sleep with him at that point anyway, so why not simply enjoy being with her for a while and see what happens?). Having said that, his actions follow his personality as set out by the other books. It's no surprise that he'd destroy this particular chance at happiness.

One of my favourite things about this series is the clear use of consequences. Cal isn't happy with his choices concerning George but he's smart enough to know that there are consequences, even if he doesn't want to face them. This was used throughout, but was most effective in the scene after Robin tries to hypnotize Caliban so he can remember the 2 missing years he spent in Tumulus. Robin's puking in the bathroom and Niko's voice sounding anguished for the first time in years were beautiful touches in bringing the story to life. And of course, after Cal massacres Darkling and ends up a mess, knowing what he did while 'under the influence'. Even the scene after taking out Hob was great, with one of my favourite lines, "That was an interesting new fighting technique you demonstrated. What do you call it again? Suicide?" (I'm writing this without the book so if it's not 100% accurate, sorry.) the situations are doubly forceful because under all the sarcasm expressed at each one you can hear the concern.

What I didn't like about the books was their (in my opinion) overuse of swearing. But that's a personal opinion and based on Cal's personality, it would be hard to eliminate all of that. I also seconded a line I believe Niko said (but maybe it was Cal) in the first book. Is Niko the only human in New York? Everyone they come across, even without trying, happens to be fae of some sort. From the woman they're doing bodyguard duty for to the used car salesman. It just gets more extreme as Cal starts working at a club catering to the inhumans. (Now that I think about it, that could be a result of the humans he worked with at the first bar all being killed by the Auphe. Cal started hanging out with people who would be able to defend themselves if attacked - another reason he didn't want to be seen with Georgina.)

All in all, I am anxious to read the next book. Part of me is still hoping for that fairy tale ending (maybe Cal will smarten up and go for Georgina, though at this point I can't imagine her forgiving him without some serious incentives or maybe he'll fall for someone else). But as long as the characters are true to themselves, and the story is good, happy ending or not, I'll be satisfied. After all, books that can keep you thinking about them long after you put them down are books worth reading. And a result every author should work towards.

No comments: