Okay, I’ll admit it right up front: I read trash fiction on occasion. The Anita Blake books, the first two Paolonigodheneedstochangehisname dragon monstrosities, the Lackey dragon monstrosities, the DaVinci Code, the Nanny Diaries, and most recently… The Devil Wears Prada.
My mother bought it and loved it when it had just been released, she’d read me sections and I found them amusing… so when I was in Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago cursing that they didn’t actually have The Final Key by Catherina Asarao in stock, I saw it… I bought it… and true to form, it took me until the other day to actually start reading it.
And just now, I finished it.
And parts of it were amusing, very amusing. Laugh out loud and repeat it to my mother and aunts amusing. But it was a complete and total waste of my time. And it wasn’t because it was horrendous prose or particularly distasteful characters… it was just… not satisfying. It was like the whole thing was set up just to showcase these little ‘look how awful my boss is’ vignettes.
And what was really irritating was how she kept going back and forth in time. In fact the first chapter takes place at least 3 months into her job just to see Andy run around doing this bizarre errand that ends badly. Nothing crucial happens to Andy or her job. The entire chapter is nothing but ‘oh god isn’t this funny in a ‘I am so glad this is not me’ kind of way’.
Dear Author, I promise that if you write well and give me an interesting character that I like and care about, I will read the first however many chapters it takes me to actually get to the ‘Omg this is the bitch from hell’ war stories. Promise.
At any rate, I could’ve forgiven the first chapter if it had been a one time deal. But she kept doing it. She’d start a new scene–a phone conversation between Andy and her co-worker and then flashback into a ‘Ooooh isn’t this a funny story that I forgot to tell you about when it happened’ moment. That’s really what the book was all about. Moments. Which was why I didn’t care nor was particularly interested in all the heavy relationshipy stuff. I didn’t care that Andy and her boyfriend were falling apart, or that Lily, her best friend and roommate, was becoming an alcoholic. I actually didn’t understand why anyone was upset that Andy had to keep cancelling plans because of the bitch because… well the whole book was about the bitch and the office—that’s where all the interesting stuff was happening. Screw Andy’s real life, it’s never been important to me as a reader so why should I care about it at all?
Which is why the book is completely unsatisfying as a whole (other than the moment where Andy finally says ‘Fuck you’ to Miranda… that felt good). When she leaves her job, all the interesting fun stuff is now gone and I stop caring about Andy and what happens to her. Sure the author gives me the nice cotton candy ‘Andy is actually gonna be okay in the end’ ending, but I’d stopped caring the moment Miranda found her voice to fire the girl.
And if you’re mad at me for giving away the ending, don’t be. The point of the book is to hear the ridiculous things that Miranda does and says… I haven’t ruined anything.
Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is the author did only a halfass job of making me actually care about Andy and her “real” life. Andy’s job never seemed to be in any real jeopardy, and it also didn’t seem like being fired would be such a bad thing. Maybe if the author had made it appear that if Andy were fired from Runway she’d never get a job anywhere else—well, anywhere that Andy would actually like to work—then there would’ve been real tension.
I could probably go on for another 10 minutes about what needs to be changed and where… but just like Lily in the coma… it just doesn’t seem all that important.