Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight (Charley Davidson #11) by Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson is far more than a private investigator – which is good because she doesn’t always make a lot of money at that what with the breaking things

Of course she has a lot on her mind – including the angels stalking her every move after she kind of threatened Jehova with taking over. Then there’s that other demon god who is definitely trying to hun

And all this is before Charley truly figures herself out – hard enough for most people (especially people as… quirky as Charley) but for the god-eater, the most powerful deity out there prophecised to do so many things, enemy of god and devil both? That’s a lot for anyone to digest.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again, this book series is just fun. Especially Charley. She’s just so quirky, so funny and so utterly incapable of taking anything seriously. I love her little tangents. I love how easily distracted she is. I love her little asides, her silly maunderings and the general joy she manages to have all the time. I like the funny. I like that we have a protagonist who is still joyful even in the face of a lot of grim happening.

And you get lines like:

“We stood as the judge came into the room, much like one would when a kling enteed, or the president, or a male stripper when the women in front of you are really tall.”

Or her random tangents about prada.

Sometimes it is stretched a little much. Like her naming her furnishings and car is funny. Her naming everything she comes across no matter how tangentially is ridiculous. Tone it back a little

I do love the slowly developing metaplot in all its weird shininess. The originality of the gods, the different dimensions Charley’s extra special part within that is so different from anything I’ve read. The epic powers are there, but don’t divert from the general lightness and humour of the series. I like the both fear and joy of seeing Charley Davidson having more power than god while also being both genuinely good and caring while also having the attention span of a concussed squirrel.

We do have some nice complexities around both free will and Charley Davidson generally not agreeing with how Jehova is running things and what that could mean. It all fits in with her history and how little she knows of what she is and what Reyes for a big dollop of potential storylines, conflict and awesome exploration.

In some ways there does feel like there’s almost too much going on. Almost like I need to stop, restart and have a nice summary of where everyone is, where Charlie is and what we’ve learned so far. Yes, I need an info dump – so much has happened and we’ve had so much randomness on top of Charley’s hilarious but not exactly coherent commentary, a brief time to catch our breath would be nice.

It doesn’t help that may age old complaint with this series continues – there’s TOO MUCH GOING ON.

Charlie and Reyes? Sure. Charley and her godly musing? Go with it. The case of the week and the kidnapped children? Excellent, sure it’s the case of the week.

Uncle Bob and his possible future in Hell… ok, I guess.

Then we have the Amber stalking storyline. And the South American drug dealing magic cannibal.

And random, visits to Scotland.

Stop, reverse 5 steps cut some of this. Throw in a bit more recapping.

I am getting a little tired of the whole “bad guys decide to kidnap Charlie” storyline. It’s like almost every book some big bad will decide to kidnap Charlie and then torture her. Enough already, this whole plot line has been recycled so often with little tweaks. People trying to do nefarious undercover things do not regularly decide to blow all their cover with a convenient kidnapping to expose their badness in easily proved ways

And with every boom we have that whole epic god storyline with the power of Charley becoming more and more epic an then every kidnapping storyline she doesn’t use her god power of godliness. I am the first to say I am tired of over powered Mary Sue characters, but really just the number of times she’s been kidnapped, threatened god himself, faced down archangel Michael – I would love to see her confront some nice normal humans and just reduce them to dust with a blink and a snort and a quip

Definitely a quip

We do have some nice challenges against the eternal awfulness that is Reyes and Charley’s relationship. One moment where someone angrily says it doesn’t matter whether Reyes is her husband, he has no right to get physically intimidating with her – a message which was needed like 10 books ago. And Charley is repeatedly faced by Uncle Bob and Reyes giving her instructions and her making it clear that men don’t get to just give her orders and expect her to obey. Which I appreciate a lot – except I also think that since the case Reyes was asking her to drop intimately concerned Reyes, a little exploration of his stake in it would have been nice.

Reyes is latino, and a major character: but he’s also so completely not human that his culture and heritage are pretty much irrelevant to his character. Garret is a POC but he’s barely mentioned thi episode – we do have several other minor characters of varying ethnicities including the angels themselves, but they are minor characters. Still, it is nice to have background diversity as well as frontline characters: but we don’t have a lot of those front line characters beyond Reyes. Quentin is a deaf character but he’s only mentioned in this book, not actually present which is a shame because his presence in the rest of the series is interesting and well done.

There are no LGBTQ characters

I love this series, I love where it’s going. I love its tone, I love its meta, I love the fun, the humour, the silliness. I love the characters. But I need to re-read or get a user chart or something because there’s a lot to process.