Monday, June 30, 2014

Mythical - C.E. Martin

Colonel Mark Kenslir is the last of the Cold War supersoldiers--and he's just come back from the dead. Sent to Arizona to hunt a heart-devouring shapeshifter, Colonel Kenslir and his team of supernatural-smashing soldiers thought it was just another mission. But instead of stopping the monster's murderous rampage, Kenslir and his team became the latest victims in trail of carnage blazed across the southwest. 
It's summertime for Josie and the gang, who ride off in their motorcycles to celebrate having graduated high school.  However, they find a burnt boat and a stone man in the middle of the desert.  Soon, the stone man comes to life as Colonel Mark Kenslir, a supersoldier with general amnesia.  Josie and her friend, Jimmy, soon find themselves on a wild ride as they try to help Mark Kenslir remember his past and complete his mission.

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

I'm going to say them.  I'm going to say the eight deadly words: "I don't care what happens to these people."  Though really, it's not that I don't care what happens to these people, but rather, I didn't care about them at all.  I don't really blame this on the characters, since it seems that, given enough time, I might care about Josie, but I blame it all on the writing.
And what writing!  What a flat, monotone voice.  I mean, sure, I'm not going to expect a masterpiece out of a pulpy action story; that doesn't mean I've never enjoyed one.  When I read a story based on action, I want to feel involved, I want my pulse to begin racing as it did when I watched Pacific Rim or The Avengers, you know, I want to worry that 'maybe the good guy won't win this time'.  Nothing like that ever happened.  I always was deeply aware of the disconnect I had with the story, Mark Kenslir is so ridiculously overpowered that I never really worried about his life (and the one time that I might have worried, it was a flashback so it was established that he does indeed survive), and the action really just reads like stage directions.  For instance, in Kenslir's battle with Femagick, I don't know how many times I read the phrase "Femagick gestured again".  There is so little variety in the types of sentences Martin uses that I found myself quite bored whenever it was an action scene.
It's as if the author was never told "Show, don't tell".  At every point in the story, I knew exactly how every character felt, not because of gestures that clued me in, no, the author explicitly told me these things.  Like, Josie wasn't afraid when she found the stone man, Jimmy was jealous, Mark was confused, et cetera ad nauseam.  I don't want to read "She'd never been so mad in her life", like, please show me how mad she is, or how jealous he is, or what have you.  I'm begging here.
I don't know why but this part really bugged me:
The giant grinned. He had learned long ago to form his heart on the left side of his chest, to avoid the spears, swords, knives and other weapons that had so often been employed against him in this form. But the black haired man with the strange green-black eyes had normal human anatomy. His heart was exactly where it should be.
Whhhhhhh??? ????????????????????????????????????? Uhhhhhhh
I'm sorry, where do you think the heart is?  I mean, it is roughly in the center but it's quite common knowledge that it tends to be on the left side of the person's chest.  That's why, in the United States we place our right hand over our chest so that it crosses over to the left side so that it is over our heart.  I understand that I shouldn't expect writers to have expert knowledge of human anatomy; I know I don't.  But I do expect some very basic research so that things are relatively as they should be.
Rant over.  Anyway.
Oh, speaking of rants, I at first thought this book was going to be primarily about Josie, and I was kind of excited in the beginning because I had just finished The Shadow and the Rose and I was so so so ready for some ladies to kick ass, and unfortunately for me, Josie is involved in exactly one fight scene, and almost every fight scene there is, she is a damsel in distress.  (Also, are the descriptions of her clothes really necessary? And when she put on makeup she "looked remarkably different"? Dude, do you know how long you have to work on makeup to dramatically change your look?  And why does she have makeup on in the first place, why is she carrying that stuff around in the middle of the desert whhh??).
The only other lady who really plays a part in the story is Femagick (and I cringe every time I must read or write that), a sorceress who is ludicrously outpowered by the mighty Mark Kenslir.  And you know, fine, whatever, Kenslir is your typical male power fantasy and I can handle him being outrageously overpowered, he's basically a comic book superhero, I can dig that.  But like, can you not make your female antagonists hysterical and vain.  It was just so blatantly misogynistic, Femagick's temper tantrum when Kenslir beat her.  I'm not about that, no thanks.
And what really is disappointing is that the plot is kinda good.  I thought it was strong, and I really was interested in the mythos of the whole world with superheroes and all that, but the writing and the bland characters really damaged the story to where I can't really recommend this as a book I enjoyed reading.
But, you don't necessarily have to take my word for it.  If you like male power fantasies, and you like being read out how the characters are feeling, and you like reading in great detail what happens in a fight, this might be the book for you. I give it 1 out of 5 stars.

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