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Kaia

Kaia

Feminist Killjoy. Badly Behaving Bookliker. Writer and reader of all things speculative. 

Currently reading

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin
Diablo III: Storm of Light
Nate Kenyon
Progress: 133/341 pages
Neuromancer
William Gibson
A Taste of Blood Wine
Freda Warrington
Progress: 380/501 pages
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
The Enemy (The Enemy #1)
Charlie Higson
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Perdition
Ann Aguirre
The Daemon Prism  - Carol Berg Sit down, kids, I'm going to tell you a story.It's a story about a book called The Spirit Lens by a woman named Carol Berg. More specifically, it's a story about my review of said book. I was so excited to get my hands on The Spirit Lens. I've worshiped the paper Carol Berg writes on since I started reading her work somewhere in the vague vicinity of mumblety years ago. I haven't outright adored every book she's written, but I've enjoyed all of them. Until The Spirit Lens.I didn't like that book. To be honest, I hated it. It was hard to follow, the writing quality had taken a nosedive, and the narrator was insufferable. I was devastated and distressed by this. I thought, surely something must be wrong with me. But I was intending to review it for the website I reviewed for at the time, so I had to figure something out. In a desperate grasp to get something positive in my review, I enlisted my husband to do a conversational review with me. He didn't loathe the book nearly as much as I did, so I hoped that would balance things out. And I did something I usually refuse to do: I lied. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together (or at least anyone who wasn't an oversensitive neurotic ninny) would likely never guess from the contents of the review just how deep my loathing ran. In truth, I thought there was nothing about it that was good, no redeeming features at all. But I simply couldn't bring myself to say that about the work of a woman whose writing I worshiped. Worshiped, do you hear me? Sometime later, while looking at the review, I noticed something missing. Actually, a lot of somethings were missing. Huge chunks were gone or changed. Naturally, I wanted to know what the everloving flying fuck was up with that, since no one had asked me (you know, me, the one who wrote the bloody thing) how I felt about this. Turns out that an author whom the website in question showed a great deal of favoritism had complained. Carol Berg is a friend of this author, and this author said that my review--the one I freaking lied in because I didn't want to say anything too mean about the writer whose work I adored--was "unprofessional", "mean-spirited", and "hurtful to the author" (that last one's kind of funny, because I did not write that review for the author, nor did I directly send it to her, so I'm not sure in what way it was hurtful). Now, one could make an argument that it's unprofessional and mean-spirited to sneak around behind someone's back and say these things about them. That it is in fact downright nasty to imply that an autistic person, someone who already spends most of her bloody waking hours worrying about whether she communicates what she wants to say properly, was deliberately being hurtful and unprofessional simply for speaking the truth WHICH WAS NOT EVEN ACTUALLY THE TRUTH BUT MUCH NICER THAN THE TRUTH. And one could also point out that it's jaw-droppingly hypocritical to complain about this one review on a website and not speak a word about other, far meaner reviews on the same website. It's only hurtful when the author is your chum or what? One could. But let's not digress that far, shall we?After a fair bit of deliberation and talking to a few friends, I requested that the review just be taken down. By that point I already cared more about my future writing career than reviewing anyway, and this experience killed the fun of reviewing as well. But lately there's been a rash of authors or their friends complaining about reviews and--look, okay, I don't think any author has to like reviews. No one likes criticism (no, trust me, whoever you are starting to shake your head in disagreement right now, critique and criticism are not the same thing and trust me, you don't like the latter) and sometimes it's a tough pill to swallow as a writer, that other people get to complain about their jobs, about how their boss is an asshole and their customers are idiots, but writers are not allowed. But seriously, welcome to the writing life. In the end, reviews are not midterm reports or write ups. They're never meant for the author, or the author's friends for that matter. That's life suck it up, princess. At the time, I couldn't help but wonder: Had this author really acted on their own, or had Carol Berg sicced them on me? On me, only like, one of her biggest fans in the universe. There could be an entire planet full of aliens who read solely Carol Berg books and they still would not be bigger fans than me. Which is part of the reason I told myself she probably never even knew the review existed and tried to put it out of my mind. I was a little leery going into the second book of the trilogy, The Soul Mirror, but I ended up loving it. I was so excited for The Daemon Prism.But...for over a month I've struggled through bits and pieces of The Daemon Prism. Whereas Anne, the narrator of The Soul Mirror was compelling, Dante, this book's narrator, is...well, more like repelling. I'm used to angsty characters from Berg, and no wonder considering what she puts them through, but Dante was too many drama-llamas for me. I couldn't get myself invested in the story, especially because the plot is...elusive. There's some stones that are dangerous and Portier is in some kind of trouble and Dante might be the evil destroyer of the world but since this is Berg, he won't be and...that's really it. Today I sat down and considered trying to finish it, but realized I had no desire to. I am not going to finish this book.If you've already read the rest of this review, then you should know by now that it is not some kind of indictment of the author. If you think that, you need to get your eyes checked or sign yourself up for remedial reading comprehension classes. The fact of the matter is, this series simply was not for me. Period. End of story. It happens. I don't expect to like every single thing an author writes (and incidentally, I don't expect anyone to like every single thing I write, either). This is not hurtful to Carol Berg. This is not about her. This will not hurt her career. I will not hesitate to tell you to try her Bridge of d'Arnath series, or her Rai-Kirah series, or her Lighthouse Duet, or her wonderful standalone Song of the Beast. I will even tell you to try this series if it sounds appealing to you. But FFS, people. If you ever feel the need to rant about a review, talk to someone, a friend or significant other. In private. Preferably not on the internet. And for the love of Whoever, don't let your friends do it, either.