Let me preface this by the usual – there are possible spoilerish statements in what follows. Read on at your own peril!
Let me also preface this by expressing my love for Tana French. I really, truly, love Tana French. I love how each of her installments progresses organically from the last without being a technical sequel. I love that they’re gritty without being cliche. I love that they’re set in Dublin and the surrounding area – a stop on my someday maybe list. I love that her characters are all deeply flawed human beings but flawed in entirely believable and realistic ways.
I do not love this book.
I really, really do not love this book. I did not love this protagonist when she was introduced in the last book. I love her even less now that she’s the main character. She is entirely cliche. I’m something like just under halfway through the book and I swear to God, I’m having chest pains from holding my breath waiting for the massive chip on her shoulder to tip her down a flight of stairs.
Why do so many writers fall into the trap of “If I’m going to portray a strong female lead she has to be a ball busting bad ass with no room for any kind of softness because soft = weak and GOD FORBID A WOMAN SHOULD EVER APPEAR WEAK” even though softness does not at all imply weakness and why is it OK to portray men as soft but not women and also, why do we have to hate on men and emasculate them at all?
What I’m saying, in all my run-on glory, is that French has suddenly fallen into that (to me) tired ass trope of you can only depict women two ways – (1) I will kick your ass and maybe share some steamy sex with you, but I will not be NICE because NICE IS WEAK; or (2) I’m a weak pathetic milquetoast who needs either a good strong man to lift me up or a (see no. 1) STRONG female to show me the light and the error of my weak pathetic ways.
Plus. Also. Backstory of some sort of trauma involving a man – daddy left. Fiance died tragically. Blah blah boring ass blah.
STOP DOING THAT
I just don’t remember French being so obvious about it in the past. I mean every book comes with its share of tropes and cliches and what have yous. That’s pretty standard everywhere. But it’s like she got to The Trespasser and just suddenly didn’t give a fuck any more.
And the story line itself. I feel like the first 40something% because page numbers are not reliable in e-versions which is kind of annoying was just a giant red herring waste of time. And yet another massive cliche in itself. And I’m honestly questioning if I even have the energy to plow through the rest of this thing.
I mean I probably will. If for no other reason than to find out which character will be featuring in her next Dublin Murder Squad installment, which, if there is a God and He is in His Heaven, will be back up to the standard I’ve come to expect from someone who is normally a really frigging outstanding novelist.
I guess there is one thing I love about this book. The cover. That’s a great cover. But I still haven’t even figured out what the hell the title means. Did I mention I’m almost halfway through the book? Usually a girl can discern the meaning of a title by now. But also? Why is French’s name bigger than the book title? That just seems like “Hey, we already know this is not Tana’s best work, so buy it because it’s a Tana French and let’s just not get into the rest of it, mmmkay?”
Have you read it? Tell me I’m not wrong. Tell me it’s as bad as I think it is. And then tell me the next book will be better. Sooooooo much better. Because if it’s not, I really think Tana and I just need to start seeing other people.