Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thoughts on River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Okay, so when Patricia Briggs released River Marked, I was a tad excited.  I don’t think her work is a good as Kim Harrison, but hey the Mercy Thompson series is was pretty good until River Marked.

First, let me stay that River Marked is boring, yes BORING.  It felt like she had done a bit of research on First Nations culture, and then just had to have it come streaming out in one book.  You see, in all of the other books, though we know that Mercy is Native, Briggs never bothered to really expand upon this idea.  This is something that she could have done over a series of books, but instead used River Marked to accomplish this.  The whole thing reads like one bad long book report.

The only thing that I took away from the book, was how harmful the trope of stalkerish, controlling behavior doubles as love is.  I have always known that Adam was kind of skeevy, and he did after all instal surveillance equipment in Mercy’s garage to keep an eye on her, because he lurved her, but this book took it to a whole new level.  I think that he as actually replaced Edward Cullen as the king of this trope, and believe me, that’s saying a lot.

Throughout the book, Mercy has to constantly reassure Adam that she is okay, to stop him from attacking random people.  At one point, he becomes incensed when someone refers to her without using her new married name.  Talk about a lesson in why women should keep their own names. Women are not cattle to be branded.  He then further informs her that she had better have a good excuse to take off her wedding ring, and has to be convinced to leave her alone in Walmat.  WALMART!  I am certain that Adam’s stalkerish, over protective behaviour stood out simply because there was nothing else really going on in the book.

As an adult, it is really easy for me to see this trope for what it is, but what bothers me are the legions of young women who are into urban fantasy reading this and identifying with it.  If Adam were a real man, he is someone that would deserve to have a restraining order put out against him, not someone you should embrace as your true love.  I know that a lot of what happens is written off by the fact that he is a werewolf and therefore dominance is supposedly a part of his nature, but using woo woo (read: magic) to justify this sort of behaviour is wrong.  People aren’t even able to make eye contact with the man.

When the book ended, I really felt like it should have stayed on Briggs’ computer.  It added nothing to the story, and simply felt like something she wrote because it had been a while since an Mercy Thompson book had been released. She could have followed up by writing about the vampires, or had another story centering on the fae; however, the direction she took actually stalled the story, rather than driving it further along.

I am going to continue with the series, and hope that Briggs’ does better in the next book.  I hope that now that she has tried to assert Mercy’s First Nations roots, that she will integrate it into the story, rather than having it become the story.  This is one book that I suggest you skip if you are a Mercy Thompson fan, because you will never get the time back that you spent reading it.

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