77 internautes sur 88 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Let me start this review by saying that I really wanted to like this book. The concept is pretty cool, and there aren't enough fantasy/urban fantasy books out there that deal with Chinese mythology, or Asian mythology in general. I want more fantasies set in Asia. This book, unfortunately, just didn't do it for me.
As I read, it occurred to me that this book feels more like a first draft than a finished product. It is very long, and unfortunately not much happens in its 546 pages. The novel is obviously setting up the next book in the trilogy, but what's unfortunate about that is that most of the novel's "plot" is set up for future stuff. Not a lot happens, and I was very bored even when I knew I was supposed to be feeling some sense of urgency.
The book is in first person, and unfortunately the protagonist, Emma, isn't all that interesting. There's a whole lot of telling and very little showing. Yes, I get that Emma is frustrated, but I don't really believe it because I'm just being told that she's frustrated instead of being shown how that emotion is telegraphed through her thoughts and actions. I spent the first hundred pages of this book frustrated myself by the continual and rather clumsy attempts to create suspense and tension through Emma's boring and sparse narration.
See, Emma is an Australian ex-pat in Hong Kong, and she's just taken a job as a live-in nanny for the daughter of a wealthy, handsome, mysterious guy named Mr. Chen. But there's something funny about Mr. Chen, and this is supposed to be a big mystery that's revealed in a surprise about a hundred pages in. Except that I figured out what the mystery was about forty pages in, and so I had to sit through chapter after chapter of Emma saying something like, "Tell me what's going on!" and Mr. Chen or his bodyguard saying, "We will tell you soon!" Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseum. The attempts at foreshadowing make the big reveal painfully obvious and frankly makes Emma seem a bit dense that she doesn't just come out and say "You're [Insert Spoiler Here]!" to Mr. Chen's face.
The characterization is pretty bare. Emma pretty much has no personality. Most of her narration is in short, choppy descriptions of action with very little of her thoughts or motivations. Mr. Chen is handsome and kindly, but we're supposed to have the idea that he's mysterious and dangerous. I never really feel it. Leo, the bodyguard, is grumpy but cares for Mr. Chen and his daughter, and that's about it. Simone, the aforementioned daughter, is way too twee to be believable as a realistic kid. I just don't feel much for the characters.
The writing itself is very simplistic, and while that's sometimes a good thing, it feels extremely stilted here. Simple writing should be quick to read, but this is so dull that I had serious trouble with it. The sentences are very choppy, and the author occasionally throws in intensely awkward exchanges like the following:
"'I am staying with Simone!'
'You really do love her, don't you,' he said softly, his face intense.
The words came out before I even thought about them. 'More than anything in the world.' And it was true. Simone was very special to me.
We shared a thought: both of us loved her more than anything in the world."
Gee, I would never have assumed that they loved Simone more than anything in the world if I hadn't been told so twice.
The actual concept and setting of the novel are interesting, and I'll happily say that Ms. Chen obviously knows Hong Kong well and does a pretty good job of creating the setting. I just really wanted to enjoy a book about Chinese mythology and martial arts. Instead, I feel like I was stuck with 546 pages of very little plot and a whole lot of scene-setting. White Tiger probably could have been a very interesting book, but I wish an editor had gone through it with a machete and cut out the extraneous scene setting and directed the plot a bit better. As it is, I wasn't interested in the book despite the Asian setting.
17 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I very much wanted to like this book. (Notice how many of the negative reviews start this way?) An urban fantasy with an (apparently) strong female lead, including Chinese culture, myth, and matrial arts? What's not to like? Well, plenty, as it turns out.
The fight scenes just didn't ring true. The author's bio says that she has studied kung fu; however, this isn't readily apparent in the descriptions of fights. In fact, when the heroes are fighting, there's hardly any description of the action at all. Plus, there's never any feeling that any of the characters are in real danger. They dispatch all enemies easily. One of the biggest battles, which changes the course of the events of the book, happens "off-screen." And, yes, I know both Leo and Mr. Chen are hurt in one battle, but they are both healed easily with magical aid.
The characters are all very one-dimensional. It was hard to empathize with them. Simone is unfailingly cute, Leo is grumpy but kind, Mr. Chen is the mysterious martial arts teacher. Emma, especially, comes off as little more than a caricature. The author stresses over and over again how she is "just a normal human" when nearly everyone else in the book is a god, spirit, boddhisatva, or demon. However, the normal human takes a job as a nanny for Mr. Chen and quickly is elevated into a position in his household which can only be described as exalted. Further, she begins to study matial arts, and in less than a year, she goes from being "round" (her description of herself in the book) to having random strangers asking her if she's an aerobics instrctor. She can take on someone who's been studying martial arts for six years with Mr. Chen, and she is "one of a thousand" humans who can learn particular techniques. Everything comes easily for her; there's no conflict, no struggle. She even gets the guy in a spectacular way. Frankly, I found her characterization bordering on "Mary Sue" territory.
While the book does read quickly, there is repetition galore, as others have pointed out. Things that could have been condensed into one chapter are spread out over several, and while I understand it was the author's intent to make this book a set-up for the next two, the repetition doesn't leave room for other things that needed exposition. For example, where did the classification of demons as "level ten," "level twenty," etc., come from? And how does one tell what level they are? I would have liked to learn more about the demonology of the book's universe, but it was sadly lacking.
Usually, I am willing to give a series another try if the first book is weak, but I don't think I'm going to do that with this one.