Friday, May 26, 2017

RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey

If you catch my thoughts here on this blog you might realize that I almost never give an F grade. I try to always find the good in something and if I manage to at least finish the book, the author accomplished something. But I got halfway through this novella and couldn't finish anymore. I got tired of rolling my eyes. There is no book this year that has a cooler sounding concept than this one: a bayou western set during an alternate history where the gulf is filled with feral, man-eating hippos. I mean, come on, how could I resist? But alas, big disappointment.

The book might appeal to some (or many), but the cutesy, trite approach was not up my alley. For a novella, it felt like it was taking forever to get to the point, spending most of time introducing the characters and trying in vain to make them memorable. I would've loved this if I actually cared about the people, if the interactions weren't terribly awkward and if the attempt to make them memorable didn't turn into useless character quirks. It was kinda like an action/adventure Royal Tenenbaums with hippos. And to some people, that would sound awesome. But not to me.

None of it felt sincere at all; I could see right through Gailey's attempts at vivacity and quirk, and the western conventions felt like cartoons rather than something genuine. Like someone who watched a couple of wild west movies rather than showing a real love for the genre. And the non-binary gender neutral pronoun thing kept taking me out of the story, trying to gather when Gailey was referencing the group or just the character Hero themself. But to top it all off, I just wanted to get to some damn hippo action already! Is that too much to ask?



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