Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

We all know that once you see something, it's not only burned into your retina, but also your mind.  And by trying to not imagine a pink elephant, what the first thing is that comes to mind.  Is it also possible then, that once I know a book is written by J. K. Rowling, I will always compare it to Harry Potter?

The answer is fuck yes.  EVERYTHING gets compared to Harry Potter.  All other YA books I've read?  Not as good as Harry Potter.  The coffee I had this morning?  Not as good as Harry Potter.  That dress I want to buy?  Won't make my hips look as good as Harry Potter.  You get the point.  That series has been burned into my mind, heart, and soul.  I cannot and will not unremember it.  Does Rowling even stand a chance against herself?

Maybe she knew the answer...maybe she anticipated this inevitable proclivity which we all have.  And maybe that's why she wrote The Cuckoo's Calling under a pseudonym.  Because she knew assholes like me would never forgive her for writing *just* another novel.  I think her prologue says it all, "Unhappy is he whose fame makes his misfortunes famous."  Freudian slip of the pen much?

So how to proceed now that I've compromised any semblance of neutrality?  I'll just get on with it.  I didn't find the story compelling,  I didn't like the characters, and I didn't buy the ending.  This was a book I read for the sake of finishing, so I could move on to another book.

My first complaint, her characters.  Mean, selfish, or boooooring.  Sure, some people are pricks, but really?  THAT many people?  Everyone we meet, even our protagonist, is a prick.  His sister?  A prick.  His client?  A prick.  Everyone else in the book?  Pricks.  Every one.  I wanted to avada kedavra all their asses.  The only character I wouldn't call a prick is Robin, our detective's wingman secretary (her fiance though?  You guessed it).  The problem with Robin was she's as interesting as a Kardashian sex tape.

Another complaint is the ending.  I felt like Rowling left some loose ends unaddressed.  And the only reason I was surprised by the ending is because it just didn't make sense.  Sure, she offered a one sentence explanation, but I don't buy it.  I also don't feel her trail of bread crumbs would have led many readers to the right conclusion without a lot of blind speculation.  But then again, I'm not a detective like Cormoran Strike.  And then again, Rowling's only an author, (sniff).

To be fair, murder mysteries aren't my genre of choice.  True, I went into it with high expectations, which can be a buzzkill for even above average performances.  But really, I think a great story can rise above its genre, or age group, or expectations.  Isn't that what we loved about...well, you know.

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