Friday, May 04, 2012

Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Friday, Friday, Friday, yay!! I'm glad it's the week-end tomorrow :P I feel like I have been slacking off a little on reviews this week, although at least, I did have a few posts :P Basically, I blame work. The summer semester has officially started and I have two summer students this year. So the week was busy with orientation, supervision and training. It wouldn't be too bad if the two of them had the same level of lab experience, but they don't. Ah well. The good news is one of them is a reader!! Yay, someone new to share my love of books :) She mainly reads fiction, but not romance. Can't have everything, LOL, but it won't stop me from pushing some on her :P I also realized that I'm getting old. Duh, my birthday was yesterday, LOL, but I don't feel old. However, we were discussing manga and there's a lot of very popular titles that she hasn't read and my co-worker S and I are telling her she should read. While we were talking, I realized the reasons she hadn't read these manga is that most of them are done series - now. However, when S and I read them, they had just started or were not too far advanced. I guess a 10 years difference is big LOL.

Anyway, I really wanted to have at least a review up this week. This one took me the whole day to write, but it still counts :P Enjoy!

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
published by DAW in March 2012
Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: InCryptid series, Book #1

The Story: In this world, paranormal beings are known as cryptids and are the targets of the Covenant of St. George. This organization - several centuries old - exterminates all "monsters" without discrimination, no matter the consequences on the ecosystem. A few generations back, the Healy clan broke off from the Covenant because they realized that some cryptids were harmless and actually necessary for the well functioning of the ecosystem. The Covenant didn't care much about the breaking off, but when one of their Hunters, who was sent to kill the Healy clan, saw the light and sided with the Healy, well the Covenant took issue and started to fear "propaganda" and therefore, the Healy clan was considered persona non grata.

Nowadays, the Healys are known as the Price family and each member has dedicated his/her life to cryptozoology - the study of cryptids. The exception is Verity Price, age 22. It's not that she has no interest in cryptids... Only her true passion is ballroom dancing. She's convinced her parents to let her pursue her two passions. As a result, Verity has moved to New York City where she'll be able to compete and audition for Broadway while keeping an eye on NYC's cryptids. However, she soon learns it's hard to juggle the two when a Covenant Hunter - Dominic De Luca - appears in her city, scouting the area for a purge, and female, virgin cryptids start disappearing. When Very realizes that Dominic is not responsible for the disappearances, the two join force to investigate and run into snake cultists... which strongly indicates there is a dragon, a cryptid species thought extinct, in town...

My Opinion: I'm always on the look-out for new authors to read and one name that keeps popping up for me is Seanan McGuire. I've really been wanting to give her a try, especially since Li is a huge fan of her urban fantasy October Daye series. However, I've been holding up because I simply don't like fae/fey/fairies - I don't know why, but they just don't do it for me and never had ^_^; So when Ms McGuire had a new book from a new series that did not involve fae/fey/fairies coming out, I knew this was it :)

Overall, I think Discount Armageddon was an interesting book. I really liked Verity's character :) She's young, but she knows what she wants and she's going after it. She's also smart enough to figure out when she needs help and calls home for advice. The girl is gutsy, smart and fun. What more can a reader ask? I also loved the Price family! That family is totally wacky, but it makes for great fun LOL. In Discount Armageddon, except for one of Verity's adoptive cousin, none of her relatives showed up in New York City. Instead, they interact with Verity via phone conversations. Given how unconventional and boisterous the family seems to be, I think it was a good idea from Ms McGuire to introduce them in small doses :P I admit, at times, I found the background on the family a bit confusing and I wished for a more detailed family tree (there's one at the beginning of the book). Seriously though, I cannot wait to find out more about them and see them in action! :)

As for the story, I thought it was okay. I liked the mystery plot involving the dragon. However, I think the flow and the feel of Discount Armageddon was bogged down by all the cryptids introduced and their descriptions. It wouldn't have been so bad if there hadn't also been the background on the Price family and the Covenant, information about the training Verity has gone through and some explanations about how the ballroom world functions ^_^; I mean, it's a lot of information at the end of the day, almost all given from Verity's POV, so that means a lot of monologues. If there had been more action, it might have balanced out, but as it is, it just slowed down the book in my opinion.

One thing I'm not sure about in Discount Armageddon is Dominic and the romance. Dominic was an okay character. I liked that he wasn't too stubborn and was willing to work and cooperate with Verity. It was refreshing that he didn't treat Verity like the devil incarnated. At the same time though, Dominic and Verity come from two different sides and have completely different ideologies about the cryptids. To see them getting along so well and fast was unexpected. I expected and almost wished for more animosity given the situation and that we'd see progression in their relationship throughout time. Yes, that would have made it a bit typical of urban fantasy... But to have them trusting each other so fast, it didn't really work for me :( I felt it was very impulsive of Verity to jump into bed with Dominic. I don't think he has a hidden agenda, but she really doesn't know him well... it's dangerous in my opinion. Finally, I felt Verity and Dominic lacked a bit of chemistry which didn't help things for me.

Oh, I cannot end this review without mentioning the Aeslin mice. They are cryptids that look like mice but who can talk and have their own religion. They were really cute and hilarious... and I'm also glad I'm not so great at visualizing things LOL. They were a character on their own and one of the best parts of the book :) I'm looking forward to reading more about them, Sarah (the adoptive cousin) and Verity!

My Grade: C+. While I thought Discount Armageddon was an enjoyable book, I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I think part of it is due to Discount Armageddon being the first book in the series and another reason was the too high expectations. I'm definitively going to give the second book a try, hoping that the series will get better.