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His Clockwork Canary
Dear Sissybug Book Review

 Dear Sissybug,

This one was... better. But that really isn't saying much as the last one was truly dismal. His Clockwork Canary was only mostly dismal. I can't say that I'm surprised, but I am disappointed that Beth Ciotta couldn't get her shit together for her Sophomore novel, especially with the tools she had given herself. So, so, so disappointed.

We read the first installment of The Glorious, Victorious Darcys, Her Sky Cowboy, back at the beginning of the month, and, as stated in my first review, I really wanted to like it, but the book just fell short on so many different, important levels that I couldn't even give it a slightly erect thumbs up.

Before I get started on the review for the 2nd installment of the trilogy, did you know that the author created a sort of book trailer for it? hah I'm not kidding. See below.

The 2nd novel of the trilogy (again, someone gave the green light for not one, not two, but three of these books) begins around the same time frame as Her Sky Cowboy. It follows the story of (oh my goodness, I've already forgotten the lead's name from the first book... to Google I go) Amelia's brother, Simon Darcy in his own attempt to win the same prize that his sister is after. There's love, steampunk-i-ness, and fantasy elements, but I left feeling a general sense of BLAHHHHH at the end.

First things first, Wilhelmina Goodenough? Really? Goodenough??? I just... sigh.

I guess it's a fetish of Ciotta's that all of her characters are incredibly attracted to one another, so much so that even the slightest touch sets their loins aflame immediately, no matter their surroundings or circumstances. They want sex, and they want it NOW, propriety be damned! I'm sorry, but last time I checked, that's pretty much how 13 year old boys view sex. I grew out of that, oh, 15 years ago, so every time Simon (the lead) got an unexpected erection once again after Wilhelmina utters something oh-so-sexily like "Cheese and crackers!" made me want to throw the book against the wall in rage.

Additionally, am I really supposed to believe that Ms. Goodenough actually passed for a male for all these years? I'm no stranger to androgyny (it's huge in the kpop and kdrama world) and frequently find myself categorized as a masculine woman specifically in regards to my demeanor and personality (were it not for my boobs and hips, I actually think I could pass for a dude if I wanted), but this woman's rules for being a dude are essentially as follows: cut your hair short and talk with an offensive cockney accent while wearing baggy clothing. It was almost as if she was modeling herself after a 12-year-old newsie. "Got your pape, guv'na?"

I will admit that Ciotta did a better job of including her characters in her world this time around, actually using items that were in the world and making them purposeful for the plot versus the pointless inclusion of something just so it can add to the steampunk genre viability. I felt that the first book didn't utilize the world at all, so I was hoping for more in that aspect. Thankfully, Ciotta did so... a little. More could have been done, but anything was considered progress in my opinion.

Looking past the hormone-driven 13-year-old children that lived inside of the characters, Ciotta also seemed to create moderately mature individuals who actually talked about their feelings and issues. Simon and Willie had a history, and they confronted it head-on and essentially had the "When you did this, it made me feel [x]," sort of conversation. Only problem was that it was all they ever talked about. I get it. Really. They were in a relationship. It ended badly. How many times do you have to hash out the past before it's resolved? Just out with it, and be done with it. It was almost as if the book was one long, circular conversation for them, especially since it moved so much slower than the previous novel.

As far as the characters go, I don't really feel one way or another about either of them. Simon was a glory hound, and that's pretty much all I got from him. He thought his sister was the tits and had a certain amount of loyalty to his family as a whole, but generally... he was in it for the fame and recognition. Willie had the potential to be totally kickass, but, as is Ciotta's modus operandi, she missed the boat by a hair, sending her careening into the abyss of terrible characters below. She came off annoying and pedantic, and I wanted her to die in a tragic accident by the end. So I guess I did feel one way about Willie. It just wasn't positive.

The most disappointing part of the whole novel, however, was that she had this great world that she had created and at the same time neglected. Hippies from the '60s have invaded the Victorian era through the use of a time machine, and the world is slowly adapting and growing in a completely different direction from the history books, and she chose to completely ignore this. There is so much opportunity there, and she just left it to rot, dying away in a sad, neglected little, feces-covered hole (where else was it supposed to relieve itself??).

All in all, I would be more inclined to recommend this book over the first one, but that's making the assumption that I would recommend it to begin with. Which I wouldn't. It will forever join Her Sky Cowboy on the "Never To Be Read Again. Ever." shelf, and I will be happier for it.

Feel free to read the 3rd one on your own; I will not be joining you.

Love from your highly unsatisfied Sister Person,
Stefers the Great

Hop on over to A Little More Juju to read my sister's response.


Jennifer Trela said…
Oh, my dear God, that trailer. I ... I just have no words.

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