Friday, January 4, 2013

Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country

Warning: language.

Let's get to the point: I really disliked this book. I was all for giving it a go when I picked it up at my bookstore and very excited to read it. My reasons for buying and reading it are as follows:

1) I was going through Merlin withdrawals which translate to withdrawal of Katie McGrath as Morgana because, really, Merlin was horribly written.
I mean, look at Katie McGrath, she is a Queen in my book.

2) The book's cover has John William Waterhouse's Ophelia on it. Basically, if you put Waterhouse paintings on a book I will likely highly consider buying it.

Absolutely beautiful.
Sometimes I just don't like a book and I haven't a particularly good reason to dislike it. Sometimes, I really don't feel like writing a review that makes much sense. Sometimes, I end up feeling more sarcastic, spiteful, and bothered when writing a review than I should be and I resort to photos and gifs to get my point across because English is Hard at that point because my Feelings are too much.

Okay, okay, so I can't seem to get myself completely away from giving some type of a wordy review of a book so bear with me. This book had promise, this book was me giving the character Guenevere a chance to grow on me, and this book failed me and the character.

It started off well enough, creative but a little slow, and by the time I got to the arrival of the actual plot I wished I could go back to the point where it was slow yet still well thought out. This book went from some type of historical take on things to a well written story of a whiny, demanding and certainly annoying teenage girl. That's part of the grub: Guenevere, no matter her age, is annoying like a teenage girl.

You go to a diner, maybe the mall, that annoying teenage girl that sits near you who you can hear loudly talking about her boyfriend and what she wants? That's Guenevere. Either she is over thinking everything, swooning with The Sight, or sighing over her loves and it drove my insane.

Oh, Arthur!
Oh, Guenevere!
Oh, Lancelot!
(click the link, do it, do it)

See, there was an issue with the tv show Merlin that the writers must have adopted from this book: a lack of back story. Much like in the tv show one moment Morgan (or Morgana on the show) is pretty much your best friend and a really nice lady, the next moment she's evil. In the show that consisted of Morgana stabbing some dudes and pushing them off the castle walls but in this book it consisted of Morgan smirking devilishly while lounging naked in the bed of her brother after they had some wild sex. I mean, two different situations but in the end it comes to the same point: there was a big character change with little back story.

I get it, I get it, neither the show or book are from this character's point of view so obviously some things will be beyond the viewer or reading. However, that's the magic of story telling. In this book there were many brief moments where the novel would focus on the point of view from other characters so that you could get inside their head a little bit to understand what their motives were but this was never once done with Morgan. Guenevere is moaning and sad of the horrors Morgan must have suffered but she's always feeling overly emotional about other characters. I think much of this is to blame (and this is just a guess) that the author assumed those who have read the story know that Morgan is out to get Arthur so there isn't an explanation needed.

Wrong. Many different versions of the Arthurian tale set up different reasons for this revenge and leaving out the back story is just poor story telling on the writer's part.

Also? The story, in my mind, was already told. Well of course it was since it's based on a legend but I mean the general plot points of this book are incredibly similar to The Mists of Avalon. Guenevere received teaching at Avalon, she has slight powers and the likes, she falls into a swoon-like fog as she sees the future and all the while I am going, "BUT THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED TO MORGAINE FROM MISTS!" and my frustration is so strong that I feel quite like I am going to let out a screech akin to a velociraptor.

But this book also made me learn a little about myself. I always found Arthur to be a little dimwitted but  typically disliked Guenevere because she cheated on Arthur. With this book I realized that, depending on the version of the tale, I was sort of slut shaming Guenevere. Arthur isn't perfect and he essentially does sleep with his sister; again, depending on the story it could be willing or it could be forced through magic. But it was Guenevere that got all the shame and the blame (from me and others) while Arthur doesn't have much room to talk either -- I mean, he called for all the newborn baby boys to be KILLED because he didn't want Mordred to be alive! Somehow, killing an entire country's worth of newborn baby boys almost kind of seems worse than cheating on your husband with a hot knight. Just sayin'.

Yet... I still dislike her character. Maybe it's because she doesn't seem capable of making up her mind. She wants Lancelot (Oh, Lancelot!) and she wants Arthur (Oh, Arthur!) and she whines and has all of these feels which she does not know what to do with and I just don't care.

There are more books in this series and I wanted to see more of Morgan and Mordred (two favorite characters!) but even that couldn't get me interested. I don't want to know and I don't intend to read the rest of the books. This book will be sent back to Pennsylvania (where bad books go) until I can relinquish the book back into the wild (also known as a used bookstore). 

When I get to a point in a book where I am constantly muttering to myself, "I don't care," I know the book is steadily losing more and more points from me. And that was that. I lost interest, my chance to like Guenevere was kind of crushed (sorry, Guenevere fans!), and I am left with this extremely sarcastic review because I just didn't care in the end. 

Over and out. Tune in next week for actual reviews with less snark and more substance. 

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