Daily Archives: April 18, 2010

Karma Girl

Estep, Jennifer. Karma Girl (2006). 360 Pages. Penguin. $14.00

I picked this one up on clearance at Borders, and thought “why not, for $2.99, who cares if it’s bad?” It wasn’t amazing, but it was interesting, and it kept me reading, which is key. I did not find myself laughing, but I was drawn in by the plot, and it invaded my brain to the extent that I found myself thinking about it while I was not reading.

Set in a superhero universe, where every town has its own villain and superhero*, Karma Girl is about Carmen Cole, and the fury of a woman scorned.

Once upon a time, Carmen was getting married and, concerned for the feelings of her husband-to-be, she went to speak with him before the ceremony. Unfortunately, she walked in on her fiancée and her best friend banging. To make matters worse, their spandex was revealed, showing her fiancée to be a superhero and her best friend to be the town’s villain and his nemesis. Carmen, journalist that she is, snapped some pictures and published them, unmasking her first heroes.

This is the start of the next part of Carmen’s life. She enters a town, unmasks their hero and villain, and moves on, leaving a path of destruction and confusion behind her. This continues until she reaches Bigtime, New York (i.e. Metropolis, New York City, Gotham City et al.) where the Fearless Five fight the Terrible Triad. Things happen, and there is a lot I cannot reveal without spoiling things. Suffice it to say that Carmen is definitely well behind the reader when it comes to realizing identities. Alliterative names are a dead giveaway, and a seeming joke on the genre.

So anyway, our heroes (the Fearless Five) are Striker, Tornado, Fiera (star of her own novel), Mr. Sage, and Hermit, all of whom have some backstory revealed. The villains (the Terrible Triad) are Malefica, Frost, and Scorpion, none of whom get any backstory revealed. Carmen gets forcibly yanked into the Triad’s long, drawn out, and horribly convoluted plot (perhaps the longest and most convoluted I have ever had to deal with). The “twist” is not a good one, as it is not very twist-y.

As far as the story goes, Carmen is a little too stubborn, a little too whiny, a little too obsessed with karma. She’s determined to sabotage herself, and is still bitter at her ex-fiancée three years later. She’s too determined to continue her pity party, even as it becomes increasingly obvious to everyone but her that the Love Interest is interested. Due to the genre, I won’t even bother expanding on this, except to say that it has far more stupid obstacles thrown in its way than are necessary. Carmen herself drags out the romance by being intentionally dense and denying everything obnoxiously. Striker himself is a sad analog of the badass misanthropic anti-hero who goes all mushy and soft on us very early on.

The thing which has doomed this book though, has really and truly made it take a nosedive is that attempted rape is the device upon which the romance hinges. She nearly gets raped, Striker saves her, he goes all mushy and interested, and she goes all “ooh you stopped them from raping me, now I’m going to jump your bones.” She’s really fucked up from this attempt for all of a day, and then she’s too busy being hot for Striker. Ugh.

The Quick Version:

Light, reasonably enjoyable, and vaguely resembling*** an actual superhero story. It attempts to make fun of the superhero genre, which might have been more successful had the author done a bit more research on her genre. Aside from the terrible romance plot device (see above), the book is alright. It scores a 3 out of 5. Mostly because if you set aside the whining and the angst and the poor-me and the stupid bits, you have a short story about a pretty kickass set of superheros.

Want to read it? Get it on Amazon or though Swaptree.

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*Like The Incredibles, or Soon I Will Be Invincible** this world has, and believes in superheros.

**I will review this one soon

*** I mean cut apart, mangled a bit, and sort of mashed back together.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy

Searching for Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Searching for Dragons (1992). 242 Pages. Scholastic. $4.99

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Two

Because this is the second book in a series, there are very likely spoilers to the first book. Proceed with caution.

Mendanbar is an unconventional King, which is good, because the Enchanted Forest is an unconventional kingdom. He tries to be active, and take part in his kingdom, instead of getting caught up by formal events like his father, the previous king. One day, while he is out on one of his unconventional walks, he finds a vast dead region in the forest, and dragon scales scattered around the scene. Some confusion and consternation leads him to Morwen, who sends him on to talk to King Kazul.

When Mendanbar gets to King Kazul’s caves in the Mountains of Morning, he finds Cimorene, who admits that Kazul is missing. This is where the title comes into play, as they go on a search for Kazul which leads them on quite an adventure. They meet giants (one of whom Mendanbar advises to leave his current rampaging business and go into consulting), ride a dysfunctional carpet, meet Rumplestiltskin’s grandson (Herman the dwarf), and finally come across Telemain the Magician.

With some help from Telemain and Morwen, Cimorene and Mendanbar manage to get to the root of their problem and locate the missing King Kazul. I’ll give a hint about the end; there are wizards involved. Everything wraps up reasonably well, leaving some room for the adventure which is sure to come in the third book.

The Quick Version:

With nearly as many laughs as Dealing with Dragons, you will find Searching for Dragons to be an enjoyable book. It is targeted toward children, but as with the first book (and the rest of the series) it remains enjoyable as long as you are willing to have a sense of humor about your reading. The ending is predictable (which is fine by me, really), but this book feels like it is missing something which the first book has. I like Mendanbar a lot, but he just seems too clueless about magic at times. The book scores a 4.5 out of 5.

Pick it up from Amazon or Swaptree.

6 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, High Fantasy, Humor, Young Adult Fiction