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The House of God

The House of God - Samuel Shem, John Updike All in all, this is a great representation of what life is like as an intern. It's overtime and angry consultants and the camaraderie of your fellow interns. It's exhausting and terrifying in equal parts and I think the book does a good job of showing it. I also liked how being a doctor starts to impact on the rest of his life. However, like most books about doctors/by doctors by the second half I got tired of it. And I couldn't find myself sympathetic towards the main character at all, which didn't help.

The Electric Church

The Electric Church - Jeff Somers Holy hell, I love this book. Love the idea behind it, the fight against eternity and a religion that wants to consume every part of you. Willingly or not.

Avery Cates is not a sympathetic character. He's a killer for hire, the man least likely to perform heroics, a cheat and a survivor. But he's a likable character all the same. He's an honest man who's doing what he needs to survive, but there are lines he won't cross. This doesn't make him a good person by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, it probably makes him stupid. Luckily he has all these lovely side characters who help him out (and not by choice).

You see the world, the city of New New York through his eyes, and it's a fucked up place. It's a dystopian future and there's no such things as heroes here. I felt tired just reading this book, but in a good way. In a sympathising with the Main Character way. But even so, I wanted to read more (if only I wasn't limited by that pesky thing called lack of funds) because there's the promise of an epic adventure.

And the antagonists, the robot monks of the Electric Church, are the creepiest things ever. Creepy, creepy, creepy and so deliciously badass.

I can't say more without spoiling it, but if you're a fan of dystopian/post-apocalypse action-adventure with a Main Character who's well on his way to Nick Fury level badassery, then read this book.

Coyote's Creed

Coyote's Creed - Vaughn R. Demont Excellent world building. Fun characters and a plot convoluted enough to keep any reader of Urban Fantasy interested. Spencer's a hero with all the issues you'd expect from any UF hero, but he spends maybe 10% of the book brooding over it, 90% of the time it's all action and getting shit done.

It's so good to finally have a slash UF that's plot focused rather than romance focused. And the uh, age diff between Main Character and Love Interest didn't hurt either.

The Luxury of Vengeance

The Luxury of Vengeance - Isabella Carter Note: I came to this story without the context of "prompt response", only that it was published by LT3.

What do I think about it? Hmm, well, I hated it.

1) Needs proper editing. The story attempts to be a cold opening, but what actually happens is that you get pages and pages of back story that could have been actual story. Walls of text about this happening and then that happening and then this happened. The reader gets an info dump and a flashback before the story even begins. And the pacing of the story is stilted. In addition it's full of epithets, which I am given to understand is against LT3 submission guidelines.

2) Annoying Main Character/Love Interest/Villain/Side characters. The many, many, many times I wanted to punch Chien in the face. He's arrogant, he's spiteful, he's dumb, he's emo. There's nothing noble about his search for revenge, but more worryingly, he doesn't think about the repercussions of overthrowing a ruler. He talks about avenging his father, but there's nothing to show that he loved his father, or admired him. More exploration of Chien's relationship with the world would be nice.

Did I mention stupid? He decides to act dumb as a door to fool everyone, and only at the end does he realise "Oh hell, this means my own people won't trust me so how can I rule?" And the villains were 2D caricatures, who really didn't hold my attention at all

3) Romance = boring. We don't get to see the relationship develop and change. All we get told is Chien and General guy are boning, and here have some unsubtle clues about their feelings. Admittedly, there's an attempt at tension towards the end, but by then it's too late. It's trope-y and not in the good way.

4) The cultural stereotypes. (edited for reasons of incoherent raging before) I've read it twice and the whole story still comes across as generic Chinese. The issue with that is that generic Chinese is what most people think when they hear the word 'asian', without considering that Asia also includes Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand etc (all with cultures influenced by China but very distinctly their own). I understand the prompter asked for an amalgamation of cultures, but it's not that. This is an amalgamation of Asian stereotypes, which is very different. And whether or not the author intended to reference buddhism (zen or otherwise), it is unavoidably there. When combined, it gives the impression of exoticising a culture.

Edit: While I understand that all the above is a result of having to work within the parameters of the prompt and with a strict time limit, when the story got taken out of that private context and put on a very public forum, that's when all of this becomes problematic. I got to to the story through LT3, and taken on face value? It wasn't up to the standards I'd expect from a professional publisher and, when the reader doesn't know the context (prompt, pic etc), it can lead to impressions outlined above.

I think this story would've worked out great as a novel, the political kerfluffle with Misra Province brought to the foreground as a setting for Bao and Chien's romance. The civil unrest and its effect on court machinations causing Bao and Chien's relationship to have to change, and how they deal with the changes etc. Or if the plot had been parsed down and the focus on the characters, it would make a good short story. As it is, I'm disappointed by this.