Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel

by Gail Carriger 17-20/12/2011  app. 11 hours reading

A disclaimer up front, I am never a fan of twilight or in other words, I hated the book. I read the first book under ‘recommendation’ (more like harassment) of a friend. She said it was good and I must read it, which I did and didn’t like. After that I am always wary of any books that have a vampire theme in it. Therefore it was quite a surprise to me to found this book, The Soulless lying around among my unread books. It seems that I have bought this book during one of those late-nights on Amazon(the website) where my mind wasn’t so clear. I remember liking the preview/snippet of the book when I bought it but let’s just say, you can’t judge a book by just one chapter.

The Synopsis
The book started with the protagonist, a woman who has come upon a vampire while slipping away from a ball/dance. Acting on self defense, she(Alexia Tarabotti) managed to kill the vampire with the help of her neutralizing ability which can turn supernatural such as vampire and werewolf back into human when touched by her. Later a biro that regulates the supernatural, led by a Lord Maccon who is a werewolf, came to the scene and proceeded to determine why the vampire had attack the woman, which is a crime. As in all book, there’s something sinister working behind the scene, which unfolds later on.

Story base
Premise wise I think the book has a very unique background, where it is in portrayed in the height of the commonwealth, which during the time hackney coach and corset was still in style. The twist to this is that supernatural (listed in the book as vampires, werewolves and ghosts) has integrated into the society where they are also regulated by law and held under the Queen’s administration. This is not to say that everyone liked the supernatural but the society has come to tolerate them, up to the point that some are given high position in the government such as the dewan(werewolf) and protante(vampire) who act as advisors to the Queen in military and domestic affairs respectively. It is a beautiful concept actually and feels plausible, something that hasn’t been done before.  The concept was beautiful but the book, the book has some styles that annoyed me.

Writings' style
Firstly, the book started with the scene where the main character (accidentally) killed a vampire. The book tried to put humor in it, such as when the vampire died and fell upon a treacle pudding, which the character says was a lost since she really liked treacle pudding and had loved to eat it. This was funny the few early paragraphs but after a while the humor gets tiring. It doesn’t also help that the society in the stories are in the Victorian era where the morals and etiquette are annoying and has long been outdated. Such examples are how woman above certain age who didn’t get married becomes a spinster, woman cannot study or exert themselves but should have frolic around instead , and how the lords are above the working class and such. Halfway through the book I have come to terms and accept that this is simply what the era was, dancing around in words, much like in Jane Austen’s. The writer did say Jane Austen had influenced her writing. Anyway, another thing that  I don’t quite like about the book is that the writers tend to use too many big words and synonyms, that it’s hard to follow sometimes.

The plot wasn’t really new but unfolded in its time. The love story inside it was typical and I had to encourage myself to read further, convincing that there’ll be a twist or something to compensate for the mushy stuff. Sadly, I was wrong. The book went sappy till the end, what with the gossiping and buying gloves and hats peppered throughout the book.

As stated earlier, the words in the books are not that easy to understand. They are not as hard as a Jane Austen’s but big words tend to crop up too often, unnecessarily. You can guess most of the meaning but it does disrupt the flow of reading.

Reading age/recommendation
WARNING: this book has suggestive scenes and I would not recommend it to young reader. If you have read a Mills&Boons, this book is slightly ‘milder’ than that.

I’ve realized the review is a bit harsh on the book but truthfully the book is quite okay and is a very light read. Nothing too serious. I am just disappointed that the unique concept (to me at least, as I’ve never read something like this) was not written in a style that I think is more appropriate to it. Something like Jonathan Strange, maybe?
If you like twilight AND Victorian Era, you’ll probably like this. As for me, although the concept of the book intrigued me, I doubt I’ll buy the sequel.

Ps. Plus, I am wary of writer who wears white gloves while drinking tea.


azreenChan said...

Ah, I dislike vampire theme novels too, since the Twilight fever. The series's storyline was weak. I read the whole series because my friend gave all of it for my birthday.

But I would like to recommend The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It's more like a research to find out about the existent of Count Dracula. The starting was a bit slow, but I love the book nonetheless. Mixture with history and old civilization *my long-time interest.
*Definitely not in young adult section.

azreenChan said...
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pech said...

I think I'll stay clear of vampires for a while, considering they have their Diaries and Saga watched by my housemates. eek!

will check on ur suggestions though, when I have the time(or have difficulty sleeping).:D