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Calliope Reaper-Jones Is Just Like Susan Sto Helit. Not. - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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April 10th, 2009


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12:21 am - Calliope Reaper-Jones Is Just Like Susan Sto Helit. Not.
As you may know, Amber Benson wrote a book. It's called Death's Daughter. Guess who the main character is! If you guessed "Death's daughter," you're wrong! Oh snap. But One of Death's Daughters would not be a good book title.

Calliope Reaper-Jones is living a perfectly normal life until she discovers that she is not, in fact, perfectly normal. Her dad's Death, and he's been kidnapped, leaving Death, Inc. with no one in charge. Now it's up to her to complete three tasks and regain control of the company before the Devil's totally hot protégé takes her job. And then she can find her dad and all that.

Let's cut right to it: if it were not written by Amber Benson, I probably wouldn't have made it past the first few chapters. Because, while the prose is perfectly competent, the voice is so not targeted to me. Calliope may be in her twenties, but she talks like a bubble-headed teenage girl. If I had a dollar for every italicized not in the book, I could buy seventeen more copies. There are a lot of italicized words. And more than a few words in "quotes" for no good reason. It makes for a very fluffy reading experience, which is just what I needed.

I really enjoyed the treatment of Death as a corporation (Death, Inc.) that answers to a Board. Death's (and then Calliope's) Executive Assistant, a faun named Jarvis, is very amusing and one of the more memorable characters; his interactions with Calliope are always fun. Another memorable character is Kali. Yeah, I said Kali, the Hindu goddess of death. I've got to give props for the inclusion of folks like Kali and Indra even though Benson basically just uses the names. I kept thinking of American Gods, which made me believe that the gods in the book really were the gods; Benson puts a more modern spin on the characters, which means they only resemble their mythological counterparts superficially. Which is true of the worldbuilding in general. I liked the idea of Death as a corporation, but I think more could have been done with that concept. cadhla's main complaint was that the cosmology wasn't very well thought out, and while I wasn't incredibly bothered by it, I see what she means. Amber Benson mixes a lot of different mythologies and religions—which is fun and something I like, especially when I Google stuff and learn about new mythological figures—and pays about one line of lip service as to why; otherwise, there isn't really a clear explanation for why the world works the way it does, especially because all the other figures are integrated into a Judeo-Christian framework. Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven all exist, but then there are other dimensional realms for some reason? Magic will save the day if the plot demands it. It's all fine if you don't think about it too hard and just go with the story, which is enjoyable.

I was all set to give the book a fairly middling review, and then the last hundred pages happened. Finally, the book got cool and interesting enough to overcome any irritating issues I had with the writing! The book in general is very well paced and reads quickly, but it wasn't until the end that I realized that it had also been pretty well plotted, too. It's supposed to be the first in a trilogy, but it functions fine as a stand-alone, with most loose ends tied up.

Overall, I liked it. It's a decent book, nothing spectacular. Would I recommend it to someone who doesn't care that it's written by Amber Benson? Eh, maybe not, on the assumption that there are better books in the genre out there (even though I'm not familiar with the genre). But it's an entertaining diversion that eventually features a headless zombie, so I certainly can't not recommend it.
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Comments:


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From:funky_donut
Date:April 10th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
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I loved that book so much! I've been meaning to see if he's written anything else, because man, that book ruled!
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From:twenty8penguin
Date:April 10th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
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I've read all of Christopher Moore's books (except the new "Fool", which I've picked up for the weekend) and I'm in love. He is both hilarious and poignant.

"The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove" takes a little bit longer to get into, but it's worth it for one memorable scene where the Lizard meets a fuel tanker.

"A Dirty Job" is my favorite of his books (beta males!) but I also like Coyote Blue for the mythology of it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 10th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
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I'd always been prejudiced against Christopher Moore because whenever I went to a bookstore to gaze at books by Lorrie Moore, I would see his instead. And then I thought he wasn't supposed to be very good, just one of those "popular" authors. But I guess he is?
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From:twenty8penguin
Date:April 10th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
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He has some beach-fiction. You know, the trash you'll read because you're lying on a beach and there's nothing else to do?

The vampire books ("Bloodsucking Fiends" and "You Suck") are in the category. They're fun; they're silly. They are not literature.

But as Nsfinch mentioned above, "A Dirty Job" and "Lamb" are both excellent. From what I've heard of "FOOL", it's just as good.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 10th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I do love me some King Lear, so I was intrigued by that one.
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From:mycenae
Date:April 11th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
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While I was reading Lamb it was so funny that I actually started expecting it to have a happy ending.

And then I was like, "Wait..."
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From:funky_donut
Date:April 10th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
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I tried to read another book that Amber Benson wrote, something about...ghosts? I think it was Victorian?...anyway, I only made it a couple chapters in. No bueno. It read like a bad romance novel. This does not, in any way, diminish my Amber Benson love, it just means I wish she would get more acting roles.

I was just coming to recommend the book that nsfinch did right above! You should *definitely* read "A Dirty Job," it was so awesome!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 10th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
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I tried to read another book that Amber Benson wrote, something about...ghosts? I think it was Victorian?
That would be one of the Ghosts of Albion books she co-wrote with Christopher Golden.

I was just coming to recommend the book that nsfinch did right above! You should *definitely* read "A Dirty Job," it was so awesome!
It does sound fun!
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From:eldritch_flame
Date:April 10th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
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I tried to watch the Ghosts of Albion web series thing and it was just brutal. I was hoping that it was mostly the voice actors and how it was drawn but it did make me less keen to check out her books. Still, looks like they're getting Death's Daughter in at my library, so I might give it a shot. At least now I'm prepared?
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From:glasseseater
Date:April 11th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
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I love Terry Pratchett's Death so much it is like pulling teeth to read/watch most other Death characters.

Do people still genuinely say not!? I would look up when the book was written but I'm already kind of mad I looked up who Amber Benson was.
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From:awwunicorns
Date:April 26th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
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I just finished reading Death's Daughter this afternoon. I'd seen where you had written about it & thought I'd check it out (plus, you know, Amber Benson).

Calliope may be in her twenties, but she talks like a bubble-headed teenage girl.
I felt this way, too. Isn't "not" like so 1990s?! Also, she whined a lot. I guess I'd probably whine, too, if I found out I was Death. Nevertheless, I liked it.

I got a Halfrek feeling from Kali. Runt was my favorite.

Reads like I'm gonna have to check out A Dirty Job.

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