Friday, September 10, 2010

Blameless: A Narcissistic Reviewer’s Examination

This summer I experienced the ultimate in reader dismay, a cliffhanger ending with months to wait before the next book. In a world where every book seems to be a part of a series this isn’t that much of a surprise and really shouldn’t cause such aggravation, but in the case of Gail Carriger’s Changeless, I was so enthralled by the plot and so involved with the characters, that when the book ended I literally groaned. I so loved Changeless that I reread parts of it, hoping to find some clue as to the direction of the next booking the series. I have many a times been the subject of author abuse; where an author goes off the deep end and completely ruins the flow of his/her characters by changing circumstances or ruining relationships, and I was desperate to find within the text of Changeless, some small hint that could assuage my irrational reader fears. Needless to say, Ms. Carriger cleverly hooked me with her volatile ending and guaranteed that I would purchase the third book in her Parasol Protectorate series, Blameless.

It was with excitement and some degree of trepidation that I opened the pages of Blameless. I was thrilled to finally get my hands on the book (and earlier than the stated street date too), but I was fearful that my new favorite protagonist Lady Alexia Maccon née Tarabotti, would be led of the deep end (or placed into a situation that I as a selfish reader did not want to see her go). I’m the usual narcissistic individual who wants everything to happen in books and movies, exactly how I want them to happen, so while this is a rather ridiculous thing to expect authors to do (I’m fairly sure they can’t read my nor any other reader’s minds), I still had this neurotic fear of character destruction that hovered in the far corners of my rather scrambled brain. I also had so many theories as to what happened at the end of Changeless (I refuse to give away plot points because I very much want you all to pick up these books not because of some plot summary that I spit out, but because they are legitimately good books and should be read), that I was fearful I would be wrong in my assumptions. I really hate to be wrong.

What I found when I did sit back on the couch with Blameless clenched between my hands, was pure, unadulterated entertainment. This book took me in directions I had not fathomed, but utterly which delighted me. I can honestly say that this was my favorite of Gail Carriger’s books thus far (Heartless, book four will be out in the summer of 2011) and not only did I finish it in record time, but I nearly read it again just for the fun of it. I have not had a truly fun, inventive, and totally original read in quite a while as on top of my ARC reading, I’ve been slogging through the remarkably dry Millennium trilogy and while not suffering, really needed a good “un-put-downable” novel. Unfortunately, my mother was just as eager to read Blameless, so I had to trek to her house and share, eliminating my immediate thoughts of rereading (I think I’ll reread all three just prior to the release of Heartless).

What I love about this book and its predecessors is the completely unique world and language created by the author. Her use of words, style, and syntax is brilliant. The language of her characters is almost a character itself. Also, the environment she creates with her words is a strong character, often driving the narrative to new heights. One can literally see, hear, and smell (the Thames does come off as having a rather nasty odor) the locations and abodes within this world. Whether it’s her reimagining of Victorian England, tours through flying dirigibles, or descriptions of the Italian countryside (very orange), Carriger uses her distinctive voice to fully create these environs for her readers.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful cast of these books. The supporting figures are distinctive and rich in personality and physicality. They are not mere background characters, but driving forces behind and around the protagonist, continuously manipulating the gears of the story, affecting not just the heroine, but the world in which they reside. Alexia Maccon is one-of-a-kind, a truly dynamic character whose wit and unreserved soullessness made me smirk far more often than I usually do. She also proves that just because one doesn’t possess a soul, doesn’t mean that she can’t feel deeply and reacted emotionally. I can’t suitably describe the richness of this character; it’s something that can only be discovered by picking up this wonderful series and discovering the multitude of layers created by its author.

I realize I’ve spoken more about Gail Carriger’s series as opposed to the book Blameless itself, but in order to get the humor and intelligence of this fantastic read it is of absolute importance for readers to discover its nearly flawless predecessors. I found Blameless to be beyond thoroughly enjoyable, a wonderful treat for the mind and imagination, a gem of a book in a diamond of a series.

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