Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Series: Gentlemen Bastards
Genre: Fantasy
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In this stunning debut, Scott Lynch delivers the thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his tightly knit band of tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part "Robin Hood," one part Ocean's Eleven, and entirely enthralling....

An orphan's life is harsh--and often short--in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld's most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly.

Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game--or die trying...

I actually didn't really like this book. Much at all. I'm actually a little concerned about reviewing it because everyone I know loves this book. And I didn't. *sigh* There are things I want to say though, so we're going to do this bullet point style.

Things I Disliked About This Book

The Language
Yeah, totally not fair adding this here, because I did know about it going into the story, but I really fail to see the point of it. After page one hundred it quit being either entertaining or shocking and just showed that they had no other way to get their point across. What also made me wonder was the way the lower class and the nobles all used the same type of foul language. It's not that, in a book with this much cursing, I think the nobility wouldn't curse, but the same exact curse word in the same exact way? That doesn't seem believable.

The Violence/Gore
I love fight scenes. I mean, seriously, give me an epic fantasy fight and I am all over that thing. But I really, really don't want to read torture scenes. I especially don't want to read about a guy getting smothered by a burlap bag filled with shards of glass. Ugh. And then our 'hero' get's tortured while we're inside his head. Of course, we kind of just skim through his head, so that's not as bad as it could have been. And lets not even talk about the drowning in horse urine. (How did they get enough to fill two barrels of it anyway?)

Play Fair With Me
And for the love off all that's good, quit jumping around in the timeline! Not only is each really, really long chapter rotated with a shorter chapter about Locke's childhood, but the stuff in the chapters aren't in sequence. I think it was chapter two or three that really did this with a Leverage-esque stunt of showing how they accomplished something after they already accomplished it. I'm willing to mostly forgive this in TV shows (especially the ones that do it consistently) but books… I don't like being jerked around. I don't like getting some of the information and then 'oh, I lied'. That's not even unreliable narrator - that's unreliable author. (Both which go a long way to explaining why I hated The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.)

Short Snippets
I've heard books get lambasted before for short chapters but, because most of those books follow the same characters in a linear pattern, it doesn't usually bother me. Now I understand just how annoying it can be. Some of the little numbered segments inside the chapters are barely two pages worth. And that is compounded by either skipping back and forth between two or more characters - or me not understanding at all why this segment needs to be separate from the one that came before or the one after it.

The Mob Feeling
That I don't like. Ever. It leaves me uncomfortable and bored. I don't like it and started feeling like that's what the book was about as opposed to thieves - which the main characters aren't, but I'll get to that later. I simply do not like the 'gritty' fantasy. Ones that try to be 'realistic' or the commonly called 'grimdark' fantasy. This, actually, explains a lot about my problems with this book.

Now, Things I Have Mixed Feelings About

The World Building
Okay, I will admit, this is a very unique world and I like it. What I don't like however, is how we get told every little thing about the world. These bridges connect from here to there but these bridges connect from here to here. Oh, we have a special gladiatorial competition between women and…sharks… How is this important? And I really don't need to know all this about the convicts. Unless that's foreshadowing. Why do I need to know how to play handball? There were a few things I was curious about, that weren't expounded upon until the last half of the book. Honestly, this reminds me of the problems I've had with Sanderson's books. I don't need two pages of description for every one of dialogue. Actually, I don't even think I got that much dialogue. Some people like this - as evidenced by Sanderson's popularity - but I don't.

I Was Promised Thieves
I received con artists. Yes, there is actually a difference and I, unlike most people it seems, prefers thieves to the con artists. There's something that it much more satisfying to me about cat burglars, second story men and those that walk into a party and walk out with all the jewelry than the long con people. I don't know… I can't really explain it, but I do like con artists - and really like them being the 'heroes' of a story - but I don't like them as much as thieves.

What I Liked About The Book

The Gentlemen Bastards
I love friends that are there for each other no matter what but will snark and banter the whole time. So, no surprise that I liked these guys so much. However… I didn't ever feel a connection to them. It's like we were just skimming along the surface of their personalities. It didn't even bother me when people started dropping like flies. And that's not because I knew deaths were coming - I have, after all, read some books a second time and cried as much over the death/s as I did the first time. Rather, it seems more like I was kept emotionally distant. No one else had this problem, so maybe their personalities just didn't work for me.

All said and done, this book left me vaguely nauseous and entirely bored. I can see why some people would like it - there's a certain market for these types of books, after all - but it just wasn't for me.