I haven’t been getting much writing done lately, and an important way to break out of that slump is to make sure I spend more time reading. So this afternoon I was poking around the ol’ virtual bookstore looking for one of those free “first taste” novels intended to get one hooked on a series.
Today I found a book by Morgan Rice, the first of eight installments (and, presumably, counting.) That many installments in the story can be a red flag; the world does not need another Robert Jordan fumbling his way though an epic he knew how to start but not how to finish. As each book of Wheel of Time got longer, the amount that actually happened went down.
That notwithstanding, if each installment of the saga can show vestiges of a beginning, a middle, and an end, it could be a fun read.
There is one thing that annoyed me right off the bat, however. This is the first sentence of the blurb:
17 year old Ceres, a beautiful, poor girl in the Empire city of Delos, lives the harsh and unforgiving life of a commoner.
Beautiful. Not “resourceful”, not “paranoid schizophrenic”, not even “headstrong” (which is awful for different reasons). From that sentence, I am left to believe that her primary tool for escaping poverty will be her beauty. That’s the least-interesting tool imaginable.
And come on, she’s the hero in a pulp drama. There is no way anyone on this side of the blurb even considered the possibility that she might not be beautiful, or that the most worthwhile men she meets won’t also be beautiful. I get it; the beauty is part of a fantasy shared by the primary audience of this story. But the first high-impact word in the blurb — arguably the most import word in the whole description, the one word that will influence the success of the novel more than any other single word — is a throwaway.
She’s beautiful. Big fuckin’ deal.
In the author’s defense, it’s pulp, so you have to identify the protagonist right away, because often the protagonist is not the most interesting character. After all, would you rather be Captain Kirk (beautiful) or Montgomery Scott (resourceful)?
So if you don’t identify the protagonist immediately, people might get invested in the secondary characters :)
What a disaster that would be!