Storm Front by Jim Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had a real hard time deciding how to rate this book. It had been recommended to me by friends, and I was aware of the following the novel has.
The problem is that I did enjoy it, certainly enough to pick up the second book in the series, but I had real issues with the writing style, the very derivative characters, and the blatant sexism throughout.
Let's deal with the sexism issue first. Of course Butcher has an out as the book is written completely in the first person, and the protagonist is a self-confessed chauvinist.
That doesn't excuse the poorly drawn and stereotypical women characters that fill the novel though. They are purely defined by their physical appearance and their relationship to the protagonist. They are all also portrayed as victims.
I also started to get annoyed at the number of times they were described as doing "feminine" things. The same phrase must have been used 10 times (at least it felt that way). It seemed like some kind of lazy shorthand.
I also found the writing style a little odd. The novel read more like a YA novel, despite the very dark subject matter, and the less-than-amusing witticisms that ended many of the chapters fell flat for me.
The characters and plot were quite derivative, drawing on many sources from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Tolkien. Being a big fan of the Hellblazer comic books, the character of Harry Dresden pales in comparison to that of John Constantine, who also heavily informs the book. Certainly Storm Front contains none of the inventiveness, wit, politics, horror and social commentary of the best Hellblazer stories.
Despite all of the above however, I did enjoy the novel. It really picked up in the second half, and the action scenes were all well written and exciting to read. There's a lot of potential in the world.
So, overall, not a bad start, and I will pick up Fool Moon, the second novel in the series, which I hear is a better book.
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