Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Soulless, Toothless

I first encountered Soulless, by Gail Carriger, at the Buffista F2F, four months before it came out, and I kept hearing about it once it did come out. So when I came across a used copy in Borderlands, I picked it up and looked it over. On discovering that the first chapter was called "In Which Parasols Prove Useful," I decided I would enjoy it.

Soulless is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance/what have you that takes vampires and werewolves (and ghosts), puts them in Victorian England, injects a post-Austen sense of humor, and then adds a dash of steampunk. Surprisingly, this genre mash-up really works. You do have to get past the central concept relevant to the title, however, which is a little hard to swallow: the main character, Alexia Tarabotti, has no soul. In a twist on usual supernatural lore, vampires and werewolves actually have an excess of soul, however that works. In any case, Alexia's soulless state has the ability to neutralize the supernatural: if she touches a vampire or werewolf, they become human until she lets go. It's a neat idea if you don't think about it too hard.

There's a lot of interesting worldbuilding that, again, may not hold up to much scrutiny, but is still a neat idea. In England, vampires and werewolves are integrated into society; they even have representatives in the government. They have their own social structures, and they still get invited to all the cool parties. Since this is the first book in what looks to be a series—because everything is a series—a lot of the book is spent on the worldbuilding. The plot is kind of thin and moves rather slowly, but the book is entertaining enough that you don't mind so much.

Unexpectedly, my favorite thing about the book is the love scenes. Because, like the rest of the book, they're funny. Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Maccon are cut out of the Bennet/Darcy mold, so they are sniping at each other while they're making out, but at the same time, Alexia is also worrying about being improper. These scenes are funny, but they also manage to be sexy without making me feel uncomfortable.

Developments at the end of the novel make me interested in what Carriger has in store for the second book, and I suppose I'll find out in a few weeks when I see her at Borderlands to pick it up.

How to Train Your Dragon has been getting rave reviews, and while I don't think it's necessarily up to Pixar levels, it's a good, solid animated film that reminds you that such things can exist. They don't all have to be pop culture references and talking, dancing animals. The movie is made by the same guys who did Lilo and Stitch, so it's no surprise that it's well done.

How to Train Your Dragon really works because of Jay Baruchel, who voices Hiccup, the Viking boy who defies years of Viking-dragon conflict and befriends a dragon, learning that they're not so bad after all and maybe they should stop killing them. It's like Avatar with dragons, basically, but the story is told with more finesse and humor, so you don't mind so much. Also, there are DRAGONS!! All kinds of dragons! Different dragons with different abilities! Oh, yeah, anyway, Jay Baruchel! Moving up in the world! If you're the kind of person who wants to listen to Jay Baruchel for ninety minutes—YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE—then this is the movie for you! Also, David Tennant is in there somewhere.

Personally, I wasn't bowled over by the 3D I paid extra for, and I'm really annoyed that everything ever is going to be in 3D now. I like 2D just fine, really. Movies were doing okay in those dimensions, and I haven't really seen a need for the third, so much. It's kind of neat, but not worth paying such a big surplus for.

The movie has moments of cleverness and moments of awesome and moments of almost almost almost making me tear up, and you don't need a third dimension for that.
Tags: books, movies
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