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Format: Format Kindle
What can I say other than 'oh dear'.
I had my hopes up, really I did; but they were pretty much shot down within a chapter or two. I will start with the positives first. I will grant the author leeway since his first language is clearly not English, and that he has improved his structure and grammar since the 1st book (same series). Noticeable paragraphing and spelling improvements are a breath of fresh air, if very fleeting. If the first book's grammar, spelling and structure were a 1 out of 10, this sequel would have to achieve a 3, perhaps a 4 at a stretch.
The art has improved too. Little on the sketchy, anime side for my taste, but still pretty good.
You have to remember that this positive note is like someone giving you an oxygen mask in a plane that is about to hit that mountain in front of you. You get one nice gulp of air... and then its curtains I'm afraid.
I must first point out that I write these things not as an attack on the author, but as constructive criticism (if rather extensive) of his works. I appreciate the effort put in to build his characters and (some semblance) of a world.
This book is yet more 'middle'. No beginning, middle *and* end... just middle. It's everyday life then event; everyday life then event; everyday life then event, over and over and over. The source of and reason for the demons goes unexplained.... again! Some of the situations are laughable. Everywhere they go there's a dark energy or a threat that turns out to be demons of some kind or another. Holiday, at home, at the shops, in the mall; you name it, they're there for no particular reason other than just being.
Yet more corny cliched spoutings from Karmakat sees him defeat monsters ranging from run-of-the-mill goo, to ones with blades for hands (someone's been watching too much Terminator methinks!).
As much as I love cuteness, hearing what Karmakat is buying each and every loved one for Xmas is excruciating for the reader.
And that's another thing... where does Lukwos get all this cash? I think we're up to 3 new motorcycles, 2 new SUVs and a Hummer by the end of book 2. Oh and a huge house btw that just happened to be the most perfect thing ever. This is all fine and dandy, but the explanation of him being a full-time model doesn't really cut into the fact that either he has an awesome bank manager, a truckload of an inheritance, gets paid like $1000 an hour, or is on the brink of p****g off Experian with a debt-to-income ratio that would make Enron look like a kid's birthday party!
Poor Lukwos. He is such a doormat! My goodness I get that the wolf is charitable, but he really gets ridden over roughshod by Karma's expensive tastes and the fact that he has no reaction whatsoever to Karma's hooking-up with Massak. Poor sod. I really feel for him, because aside from Hikari who is terribly cute and probably the most lovable character of them all (and he's some sort of parasitic ghost), Lukwos is so sweet-hearted and well-meaning.
Then we encounter Joseph the pilot, a German Shepherd with a Germanic name and yes, wait for it... the thickest *Australian* accent you ever did witness! He's cute, but terribly off cue. Why not make him a dingo, or an Aussie Shepherd or a thylacine for heaven's sake?!
Pet-peeve numero uno in this edition has to be the cryptic way the author handles religion and social context. Other than there STILL being a lack of social context and even geographical in most chapters, the introduction of a Judaeo-Christian god with a capital G during the scenes in Alaska (especially but not limited to Lukwos's journey up the mountain) just baffled me. We've gone through this whole story with elementalism, Inuit/Nunavut-inspired spirits and pagan symbolism, only for crosses and the biblical God of humans to suddenly rear its ugly head! Makes zero sense, especially since these are anthropomorphic characters living in their own... well, their own world I guess, even though (aside from Alaska) the reader is left clueless as to where we are in the globe, world, universe etc...
The tribal scenes toward the end of the book would've been a lot better had the author concentrated harder on the reactions and emotions of his characters. One perfect example would be when Massak challenges his own father to be Kaskae of the village in light of the latter's bigotry. Interrupting this crucial fight is Karmakat saving the life of Alignak's baby son, and by the time we've come back to the "challenge" of two males for the leadership of their clan/village, we learn that Karma's actions were enough to default it all and give the title of Kaskae to Massak without a paw being raised in anger. Are you fr***in' kiddin me?! Micro-analysis is not needed to tell you that a husky hellbent on teaching his gay son a lesson would not just back down instantly just because some stranger rescued a cub of the tribe! Leaves me open-mouthed at how unrealistic scenes like this could even have made it onto paper.
Page 310 brings us to the mountain scene of Karmakat and the cave, leaving the reader to wonder if the tribe's "homebrew" didn't have something akin to LSD laced into it! Channeling Welsh and Scandinavian folklore with the repeated quickfire event/action/solution format, the author loses us completely. Devoid of context and just flowing along with Karma's endless power, the reader is left staring at the words in disbelief. And as for the "Sentient hard drive fairy" on page 315, lets just thank god its not a male fairy otherwise we'd be asking about his memory stick. That was kind of an insult to traditional fairy lore if I'm honest where the author takes his cute and mysterious pagan background and concretes it over with a blindingly pointless dose of modern technology flying around like some kind of Apple Genius Tinkerbell!
As for the unintentional innuendo on page 334, and the absolutely hilarious inclusion of a "10-foot sniper (gun)" stored in Joe's backpack (which apparently is the size of a wardrobe!) on page 320, I will leave those to your imagination.
Tone-deaf comments such as the inclusion of the description of a young sympathetic character as "retarded", along with Karmakat's overuse of James Bond-esque put-downs implying their femininity and/or homosexuality, are both shocking and tiresome.
After all is said and done, we "finally" get some kind of glimpse of the true antagonist. But why on this earth would Raxima be the antagonist? There's no reason for him being the ultimate doom lord, other than him being a douchebag to Karma during the story. He's a dragon teacher with a semi homophobic, self-centred attitude and an unreciprocated crush on Massak; but no clear reason to be the leader of the evil demons (or "Sisterhood"). That whole section, that I guess was meant to be a conclusion of sorts, just had me asking why. Why is this the way it is, because there is no way you can just take your characters, toss them in a bowl and pluck out a single one and label him the bad guy. You have to have reason. Context and reason. Please please please, give me some reasoning and context, Karmakat, cos' I have nothing here to work with!!
The bigoted parents who bring back the Christian religion to a seemingly non-sentient world of faceless populations, society and reasoning, join in the farce with the disappointingly regular mention of "hands" and "humanity" (when this is supposed to be a furry story).
Book 2 was supposed to be an improvement, but in the end it has us scratching our ears in confusion and has our tails at a standstill. If #3 is released, I hope the author has the ounce to look at his characters and world, and give them the respect that he has clearly lacked in his first 2 offerings.
This could be good, but right now, it is oh so bad.