Friday, October 09, 2015

The Club of Books

So non-work book club appears to have fallen by the wayside: Persis is having a baby, Molly's super busy, and Natasha got married. A summer hiatus turned long-term.

But work book club has taken up the slack.  This month's meeting wasn't our best; I think the book didn't grab everyone, so most people hadn't finished it (which I consider to be a book club tradition, but which is a first with this group of overachievers).  I was halfway done at the meeting, but I'm almost through now, so I figured I'd at least give you a rundown.

Across the Nightingale Floor is the first book in the series Tales of the Otori, by Lian Hearn. I feel like I have many things to say about it, but they're not particularly complex.  Let's see, where to begin?

Summary: when the warlord Iida slaughters a village, there is one survivor.  He is taken in by a kind nobleman of the Otori clan, who opposes Iida.  Otori gives our orphan the name Takeo and adopts him as his own son, and Takeo and his adopted father plan to free the realm of their mutual enemy.

First thought: there are only so many tropes you should be allowed to have in one book.  I think the only YA trope that isn't here is the love triangle.  But you've got the Chosen One who is Naturally Good At Everything; you've got your standard Instalove, which tops out with a neat Falling Into Each Other's Arms During a Moment of Danger.  Some of these are so sticky I'm still trying to scrape them off--it turns out that Takeo's unknown father was a part of The Tribe, which is a group of people with ninja superpowers.  So Takeo has magic ninja powers and Only He can assassinate Iida!

So, yes, dense with tropes.  Rich in tropery.  There are parts I really like--a ton of kick-ass female characters, and some delighful set pieces of Takeo using his superpowers, people you think you trust making the wrong choices.  But between the tropes, the narrative style, the stoic characters and the major off-stage plot happenings, I felt like I was kept at a distance from some core part of the story.

It led to an interesting (if slightly awkward) book club, though, with big fans and big haters squaring off.  Which is usually worth it--though maybe not so much this time.

Speaking of, though, Kris and I have decided that we should resurrect Non-Work Book Club in the new year.  It needs a better name, though.  We'll need to get on that--clearly, top priority.

1 comment:

Aarti said...

I read this book several years ago but never felt compelled to continue with the series. I think the romance annoyed me. Among other things. It was so popular when it came out, the whole series! I would now like to think that the tropes were too much for me.