Thursday, April 8, 2010

Literary Feast Discussion: Eternal (pp.234-307)

Hi everyone! We've reached the final course of our Literary Feast -- Eternal, by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Brace yourselves -- it's a chatty discussion. Ready? Let's go!

Shel: I really like when Joshua says, "I'm bored. What is this, intermission?" (p. 235). Mmmm. Just the right hint of meta for my tastes.

Monica: I feel bad, but I sort of grew weary of the angels by the end of the book. Not Zachary, obviously, but the rest of them seemed all… manipulative and somewhat unhelpful. “Mwaha, we’re not going to tell you what you’re actually supposed to do.” “Blahaha, now you have to kill your girlfriend.” “Hee hee hee, well done, have your powers back.” And so on.

Shel: I was still pretty okay. I mean, how often does anyone get a clear message from god or his angelic minions? I liked that the guardian angels were trying to help through the other humans. I thought that was a nice touch. Not nice touch, though -- A spa? That's where Harrison's been? Really? I mean, I get the joke, but I'd have thought there should be more of an adjustment period to the vampire lifestyle.

Monica: I definitely just *stared* at the book when he said that. Not that I was hoping he was running crazed through the woods, eating small children and hiding from men with pitchforks, but hanging out at a spa just seemed too… tame. Seriously, though, I was under the impression that Miranda had taken a much longer time to Vampire It Up. Maybe Harrison adapted more easily because he had planned on it happening?

Shel: I'm with you! That transformation is not an easy process. And I'm guessing this is a small plot hole that we stumbled into. And how about that angel's blood? I bet Buffy could have used some of that. I still wonder if it would have tasted sweet.

Monica: Dude, that was AWESOME! Who saw that coming? I… should have seen that coming, but totally didn’t. I assume that it was the best tasting blood on the planet, and probably *almost* worth combusting over.

Shel: I like Freddy. He as good timing.

Monica: And he’s fun! And sassy! It’s nice that we’ve sorted out the Good Guy?/Bad Guy? issue, though, because that was confusing me back when he was introduced.

Shel: Plus, since I paused between readings for our postings, I totally forgot who he was for a few moments there. But than he amused me. Which is all I ask.

Monica: No lie, I totally want a werebear for a friend, now. Shel? Back me on how awesome this would be? (It does show that the vamps were getting pretty cocky over who they were eating – given the destruction Mama Bear and Papa Bear caused, you’d think they wouldn’t be the best enemies....)

Shel: If you find a werebear to be friends with, I will so want cuddle privileges! And to repeat werebear, werebear, WEREBEAR over and over again. Oh, and look, more stalker action. "Shower time was one of my favorites" (p. 290). And of course, it's closely followed by an implied "if you love me, you'll kill me." Do you think that'll skew anybody's sense of romance?

Monica: Yeah, you’d think being a Creepy Stalker would be frowned upon by Zachary’s boss, but… apparently not? I seriously do find it a little weird, because it opens up all sorts of moral pseudo-religious questions, like about the fact that except for having wings, Zachary seems pretty much completely human, lust and all. I almost wish he’d been a little more… Angelic. But then I suppose the fun of the book might have been nixed.

Shel: Yeah, I see what you mean. I think I'm going to have to go down as anti-lust for angels. Mostly because I don't want to worry about peeking tom shower angels. I don't have time for that batch of crazy.

Shel: Wait. My comment again. Does this story feel a little rushed to you? Like all the pieces are there, but instead of tensions building gradually I feel like sometimes we're getting dumped on and told key points that I would have preferred to learn myself. Like that Sabine would be willing to rebel against Drac. Does that make sense?

Monica: Yes. 100% perfect sense. The entire last section, including where Miranda is making allies and there’s this undercurrent of War and Takeover... it definitely was racing along breakneck. And then BOOM Drac is dead. And then BANG Miranda is dead. And then WHAM Zachary is… just going to sit and wait until he gets to see her again? (Oh, Miranda. If you thought it was bad being a virgin, and then bad being undead and a virgin, think how desperate you’ll be when you’re formerly-undead now-really-dead and a virgin.)

Shel: *Snort* The poor poor girl. Even her would-be boyfriend an ANGEL OF GOD has gotten WAY more action than her. Hmm. So I know this book wasn't quite what we had expected. But overall, whadidya think?

Monica: I give it three and a half out of five stars. I liked the idea, and the author writes beautifully, *and* there was a DS9 shout-out. Heart. But the ending especially, as we mentioned, seemed sort of OMG CAN’T SLOW DOWN!!!1, and I couldn’t quite recover from thinking this would be a ditzy fun book, only to realize it was actually a blood-stained pseudo-tragedy. That’s not the fault of the book, of course, only of my own original perception, but it still definitely impacted the way I read the thing.

Shel: I'm with you there. And I think your misguided perception may be based on my misguided perception that I shared with you. It just...seemed like goofy fun for those first two pages.... But looking at the jokes that I couldn't bring myself to laugh at due to all the horrendous imagery surrounding them, I do think I may have to give this book a second try. In a few years. Now now. And when does Blessed come out?!

Monica: I might have to read whatever her first one is, before I tackle Blessed. I’m wondering if she talks more about the werecritters in that one, since they seemed weirdly tacked-on in Eternal.

Shel: Yep, as far as I can tell, it will have a lot of werewolves. But alas, my copy of it hasn't arrived in the mail yet.

Whoo! Well, that's all for Eternal, friends! Hope you enjoyed the ride. Give us a moment or two to recover, and we'll have a new book picked out and ready for the next Feast. It'll be a good one. A really good one. A really, really really good one. Because, you know, I'm letting Shel pick it out. ;)

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