Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Think: Ghost Story

I have decided to try doing some book “reviews” here. I use the term “review” loosely as these posts will mainly deal with my thoughts and feelings about the book/author, and are more of an articulation of my state of mind rather than a breakdown of plot, style, or technique. Therefore, these "reviews" should be taken with a boulder-sized grain of sodium (try your local Costco!).

Ghost Story
By Jim Butcher
Allow me to shower Jim Butcher with some totally-not-gay-yet-potentially-inappropriate author love. Jim has written two really great series of books. The Codex Alera, which has concluded, and The Dresden Files, which he continues to write—as well as infuse with some kind of addictive substance before sending them to my local book store. This substance is so powerful, it will compel me to stand in front of a Barnes & Noble, chewing my nails and shifting from foot to foot, waiting for it to open so I can get the book, run home, and mainline that shit straight into my eye-holes.

So, if you're wondering why the pleasure centers of my brain are lit up like the glowing embers of a post-coital cigarette, it's because I have just finished one of the few things I look forward to every year with the giddy elation of an eight year old school girl. A new Dresden novel.

Ghost Story is the thirteenth book in a series that has consistently ratcheted up the tension with every volume up to Changes (book twelve). I say this, not to imply that Ghost Story isn't up to the standard of the previous books, but to illustrate how very different a book it is from Changes (or any other book in the series with the exception of Storm Front).

You see, Ghost Story is a beginning.

The storyline for The Dresden Files is deceptively complex. Jim has a knack for taking bit players or previously defeated foes, and weaving them into future stories. The result is a lot of foreshadowing, loose ends, and converging story lines between novels. Changes acted as a climax, wrapping up some pretty major plot points and advancing the ones it didn't.

I equate Changes to a bit of writing advice Jim has postulated called The Big Middle. His technique is to plan up to a major event that ends the middle of the book. A pre-climax, if you will, that punts the story down the home stretch to the true, toe-curling, eyes-rolled-back-in-your-head-like-a-stroke-victim climax that ends the book. I believe Changes acted as The Big Middle for the overall series.

Which brings us to Ghost Story.

Ghost Story is less exciting than Changes, and that’s OK, because it gives Harry a chance to ruminate about all of the events in the previous book and deal with the consequences of his actions. It also continues building on all of the plot points that weren’t wrapped up in Changes, setting up a lot of dominoes that I fully expect Jim to knock down with all the enthusiasm of a drunken Godzilla looking for a good time in downtown Tokyo.

I really enjoyed Ghost Story, and it was great fun hanging out with all of the wonderful characters that populate Harry’s world. There were lots of hilarious moments, witty dialogue, and plenty Star Wars and Star Trek references (my favorite being the image of Molly’s psyche as the bridge of the original Enterprise, the different aspects of her personality manifesting as characters from the show).

I give Ghost Story by Jim Butcher three Blasting Rods and a bullet riddled Black Duster.

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