Oh man, I'm not gonna lie, I'm so very glad I'm done with this book. I mean, wow. I'd never read L.A. Banks before, and quite unlike my last introductory experience with a well-established author, I don't think I ever will again. I mean that book, that book was damn near unreadable.
It's a damn shame too, because the concept was pretty solid, and the heroine completely different from any other I've read. I mean seriously, I've never seen a recovering addict and victim of physical abuse as the protagonist of one of these paranormal romance/urban fantasy series, and seeing this damaged character transform into a tough-as-nails ass-kicking heroine should have been awesome. And yet.
Surrender the Dark has a number of issues that probably would have kept me from enjoying or recommending it on their own, but the primary, vital flaw that almost kept me from finishing it had to do with the writing. Namely, it being terrible. Not, like, Once in a Full Moon terrible, but Christ almighty, half the content could have been cut and we would have missed absolutely nothing.
I don't know if it's an issue Banks always has or if it's just with this particular book, but she overexplained EVERYTHING. I'm not being cute, either, when I emphasize the everything, because honest-to-God, you could not go two pages in that book without encountering an extremely simple concept to which way, way too many words were devoted to explaining. Way. WAY.
For instance, immediately following the revelation that her aunt had given her twin children to her married sister to raise back in the 60's, Celeste says this:
"All these years, she'd thought Aunt Niecey just claimed her sister's children as her own, the way people often do when they dote on a close freind's child that they love. They'd say, 'Oh, you know that's really my baby,' all in jest and as a show of true devotion to the cherished child. That's what she thought had gone on between her two aunts; she'd always thought Aunt Niecey had verbally claimed her sister's grown children as her own out of deep devotion, never realizing that they were actually, biologically hers.
Claming other people's children was like adhering a stamp of love on a child. It was the village approach, something folks did in the community; a collective part of the old Southern way that lines of kin got verbally blurred when there was no line of demarcation due to love. To be claimed by many aunts and neighborhood church ladies was to be well loved. As a child in that embrace, you didn't think about it; most times people couldn't fully remember how the so-called cousins were really related, whether by blood or not. You were just in the tribe, a part of the family equation. But in her family if was obviously deeper than that."
Any one of those sentences could have accurately summed up a concept we probably didn't need explained to us anyway, yet Banks goes on and on for two whole paragraphs, reiterating, repeating, reinciting, the same idea. And she does that over and over again. I swear to God, it was like reading a book written by Mojo Jojo...
But worse than that, perhaps, was the totally alienating religious world mythology...
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