Saturday, January 12, 2008


It's Nicola's fault. At least, I've decided to blame her.

She went and got me hooked on J.R. Ward, who (as I noted in my GoodReads review) drives me up a tree with some of her style indulgences:

Dear Ms. Ward:

Let's talk a little bit about writing tics, and things that make me kind of insane.

Thing 1: Please. Let's not get lazy with our vocabulary. Saying "shitkickers" instead of shoes or boots -- especially when it's in the omniscient narrative voice and not being voiced by a character -- gets extremely tiresome. Very, very, very tiresome.

Thing 2: I kind of get that, since vampires are a different species than humans, you don't want them saying, "Man," to each other. I get it. But "male" feels contrived, and "my brother" gets wearying after a while, too. Can't they just have a conversation without the whole, "No, my brother, blah blah blah"? How 'bout: "No, blah blah blah."

Thing 3: I just don't like a lot of your writing style. It keeps throwing me out of the story because it feels vaguely contrived. Here are these centuries-old vampires and half the time they sound vaguely overly formal (which I guess is appropriate), but the other half of he time, they sound like a bunch of pre-teen gangbanger wannabes. And don't get me started on the self-indulgent tics in the narrative voice, really. "Shitkickers" is just the beginning of it.

So, given the Three Big Peeves, how did I come to find myself devouring your books like a starving woman?

Well. Um. You plot like some kind of evil genius. I'm in love with at least three of your characters. And I couldn't put the damn things down because I wanted to know what happened next. It took me four days to whip through your entire series and now I WANT MORE.

Plus, um, you write a smokin' hot love scene. Just sayin'.

And now I'm rereading the Black Dagger books but I can't find book 3 (Zsadist*/Bella in Lover Awakened) and it's making me nuts. I went on a book-finding mission this week and none (NONE!) of the bookstores in Charlotte have the damn thing. So I ended up with a boatload of other vampire romance novels, which could result in new addictions or (more likely) very snarky reviews.

One last note and then I'm off to do my Saturday thing: Ward has won my loyalty because I am All About Her Heroes. Normally, I'm into the novels because I really dig a heroine and identify with and root for her. This is the first time when I've really (almost exclusively) been engaged with the male characters, the perspective and culture. It doesn't hurt that they're tapping my previously suppressed prediliction for hard-core alpha males who are simultaneously dominant and entirely wrapped up in what's going on with the women in their lives. (Another great example is the straight-fantasy Dark Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop. Sigh.)

* One thing I forgot to mention in my review: How stupid I think the heroes' names are. Really, really stupid. Although I've obviously gotten over it.


Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jane said...

If one wished to join the ranks of those being driven crazy by Ms. Ward's writing tics, what would be the best book with which to start? I hate wandering into Book 6 of a 32-part series and having to figure out all the names and past events.

Nicola O. said...

The first one is "Dark Lover, and the hero's name is Wrath (although there might be an extra H in it somewhere).

I actually love the narrative voicing. It sounds "right" for a close-knit group of over-charged testosterone-gifted warrior/soldier/gangbangers might sound.

Or at least it sounds like how a sheltered suburban soccer mom would imagine a close-knit group of over-charged testosterone-gifted warrior/soldier/gangbangers might sound.

And you have to admit, she's consistent!

I also hate the names, and the words from the "old language" are pretty silly.

Anonymous said...

I just left a comment on Nicola's "rebuttal" blog post about this series. Was inspired by these posts to get Dark Lover. I find myself agreeing with both of you on the things you love and hate (the names, oh god, the names!) about the series.

Just wanted to comment that it doesn't strike me as odd that they refer to each other as "brother" all the time. I think it's because I'm black so have grown up hearing unrelated men unselfconsciously use the word "brother" with each other my whole life.

Ward uses the word almost exactly the way black men use it amongst themselves, and it works for me. They're an oppressed minority, after all! I'm holding my fist in the air and shouting, Black ... I mean ... Vamp Power!

Nicola O. said...

I thought the same thing Christine! I didn't mention it because I can't really speak from a position of authority on black men's language. But between that and the outsized physiques, I sort of get an image of a black athlete, along the lines of The Rock, for most of these guys. Then it's startling when she mentions their fair skin or red hair or whatever.

Betsy O'Donovan said...

Yeah, I had the same thing -- and I appreciate your perspective, Christine! -- but I was slightly bothered by the whole "rich white guys born before the industrial age" adoption of the language.

OTOH, I like your take on oppressed minority language and I'm going to apply it as a balm to my ruffled sense of dialogue. ;)

Vamp power, indeed.


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