Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Agatha and the Voice of the Castle (Girl Genius #3) by Phil & Kaja Foglio

After many adventures, Agatha has returned to the stronghold of her ancestors, Mechanicsburg, where generations of Heterodynes terrorised the continent. For many long years the people of Mechanicsburg have waited for a Heterodyne heir to return – a town full of minions just waiting for the Master to lead them again

But first she must prove herself in the Castle.  Sentiment, terrifying and immensely powerful structure, terribly damaged for years – few people survive who step within.

To complicate matters there’s a second claimant to her title – and it doesn’t help that Klaus, the Empreror, is convinced she is the Other, a terrible force that could tear his empire apart.

When reviewing books it is always important to remember that there are a lot of different tastes out there. I will look at goodreads and see people who loved books I loathes or hated books I adored, been a little bemused but then shrugged because taste is a weird and wonderful varied thing. I remember this because I try to be mature and sensible

Well, I’m throwing that out the window. If you do not love this book clearly there is something terribly wrong with you, I suspect you may not have a soul. Yes I call soullessness!

It is impossible for me to read more than a chapter of this book without a great big silly grin on my face. I think my face may actually be stuck like that. It’s the same grin from reading the previous two books – this series is just so much immense fun!

I love the sparks. I love these glorious evil geniuses with their brilliant mad science and whacky and terrifying creations! I love how zany and weird and wonderful it is. I love how much it made me laugh out loud over and over again as they do so many things, FOR SCIENCE! Including making exploding coffee THAT WAS PERFECT!

I love how so many of the characters are gloriously evil, and it just works in the most amazing way

I love the Jaegers, they’re immense fun, they’re evil and they’re hilarious and I want one. My only sadness is they don’t appear nearly enough in this book

I love the Castle, the product of generations of devilishly evil Heterodyne Spark masterminds who have designed it and increased it over the centuries to be a font of gleeful evil. I love how Agatha with her morality (occasionally overcome by her SCIENCE) tries to work surrounded by people and minions who are the very height of evil.

I love Agatha. She’s brave, funny, extremely powerful, not always perfect, not always sure of what she’s doing but still a leader and a brilliant Spark – and with all that implies (unwise science, a drive for experimentation and the occasional habit of doing unwise things – FOR SCIENCE). She tries to be good but at the same time she has generations of evil overlord within her and she’ll be the Big Bad Heterodyne if she has to

I love how Agatha is not only a brilliant, awesome female character but we have other brilliant female characters as well, I love that Violetta is supernaturally skilled in her own way, forced to serve her cousin and still kicks arse and puts him in his place. I love that Bangladesh Dupree is the BEST evil murdering sadistic who still manages to be hilariously fun. I love that the one female character who didn’t look capable or strong and was hugely underestimated has such an excellent twist in her story.

I kind of love Von Zinzer who has found his true vocation in life and is completely and utterly horrified by this revelation.

I love this exchange:

“back when I was conducting research at the university, I always insistyed that the children be allowed out of their containment tanks for Christmas!” Everyone in the room stared at him. Mittlemind flushed with embarrassment and waved a hand. “Oh please, what do you all take me for? I’m obviously no talking about the Control Group!” The other prisoners relaxed, chuckling. 
I love that I’m actually sympathetic for Baron Wulfenbach, the tyrant of the empire who frequently tries to hunt Agatha down, as seen through his son Gil’s eyes as we see just how amazingly difficult it is to try and run an empire full of Sparks who will merrily explode the sun just to see what it’s like. And how poor Gil realises his father’s predicament that no-one ever takes him seriously unless he talks like some kind of cut-rate villain

I love how much silly and fun and hilarious and fun and whacky and fun and just incredible this book is. I love that every chapter makes me smile and every other chapter makes me laugh

I love that it’s complex and there are 3 or 4 factions and plot lines and histories all coming together with so much confusion and there are eleventy billion characters yet somehow I can follow all of it in all its twisty, zany awesomeness.

We do have a large number of POC, but we have a supremely large cast. A lot of these characters are background being characters who were larger in previous books or will be larger in the future – or simply to show some of the diversity of the empire and Klaus’s forces. Some are definitely more involved – like Dr. Sun who is Asian (and awesome) or Bangladesh Dupree who is awesome (and terrifying) but I don’t think they’re what we could consider major characters. Also this book is an adaptation of a comic which means not everyone is described – many characters (Theo, Von Zinzer) are POC and clearly so in the comics but not so apparent in the book. It’s not white washing because there are the odd description that makes it clear, it’s a lack of physical description in general to convey the characters’ appearance.

There are, sadly, no LGBT characters

I love this book, I want to read it again. It goes on my special shelf with other books to read when I’m in a terribly bleak mood and just need an injection of pure joy – despite all the books I read it’s a small shelf and this book has a place. So do the previous two in the series.

And I’m still accusing any detractors of being soulless.