Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bantering About Banter: Review of Ten Things I Love About You



Okay, I am a long-term Julia Quinn fan (Bridgerton series...yay!). I realize that her books have moved from pretty emotional and having some substance to more-or-less fluff. Now don't get me wrong. I love fluff. I love endless, silly banter. I don't even mind cutesy stuff like top ten lists sprinkled throughout the book. But as I was reading this book, several things occurred to me. I was about 1/3? of the way through and nothing had happened yet. Nothing. There is a lot of deep POV (internal dialogue, etc. etc) and no freaking action. And I do mean none. No matter how good a writer Julia Quinn is, she's gotta pick up the pacing, unless it's a cute little novella or something. Also, the top ten lists were so mindless they actually turned from being cutesy to making the characters look like imbeciles.

My favorite part of Quinn's writing is the banter. Oh, how Penelope loves banter! I love the banter in Amanda Quick's books. I love the banter in Gail Carriger's books. I adore the banter in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I love banter that is sharp, funny, and witty. (Annette Blair does it in a very fresh, modern and snappy way in her books, too). However, I noticed something about the banter in this latest Quinn novel. Even though the characters are set in a historical romance, the banter comes across as very, very modern. Part of the great thing about the dry banter between Quick's characters is that it's set in a historical time-frame, and the language and dialogue is formal, stilted and the characters have to insult each other in a round-about way. Quinn's banter has lost that fun, historical edge. It sounds like 2 characters from a contemporary novel sparring with each other. Which is fun, it's just not a historical. (Deep thoughts by Jack Handy coming at you, LIVE, from Penelope's Romance Reviews...hee hee!).

A couple other problems...since Quinn appears to be shying away from serious topics, it's a little strange that she introduces the fact that the hero is suffering from PTSD and never really resolves it. I also thought the scene at the end of the book where the "villain" sneaks into the heroine's room was unnecessary and felt like an add-on scene.

This is not Quinn's greatest creation, but it was entertaining enough for a read by the pool. My favorite part was the secret author storyline and the cute "Grey Most Likely To Outrun A Turkey" joke. I must admit I am missing the sparkle of old Julia Quinn books. She created some incredible characters and beautiful love stories with the original Bridgerton books. I would love to see her get back to that level of writing--creating strong, conflicted characters with some meat on their bones. Instead of marshmallow fluff.

Grade: B

11 comments:

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I loved her Bridgton series-but I have to admit the last couple of Julia Quinn's books have fell flat for me. There is fluff, then there is just filler..she just has lost her sparkle for me. I hate it when that happens.

Blodeuedd said...

I love What happens, but the last 100 pages were unnecessary, still would love to read this one

Penelope said...

Hi Buckeye Girl! I long for the good old days of her Bridgerton books...I especially love Benedict and Sophie's book...sooooo romantic!

Penelope said...

Blodeuedd...it is def. worth reading. It's a quick, light, fun read!

lydia Storm said...

Sometimes I wonder if authors are trying to pump out so many books so quickly that they don't have time to really make them really great anymore. I'm talking about super successful authors who are trying to keep their publishers and readers happy.

Penelope said...

Lydia...I wonder about that, too. Honestly, if you're looking for a superficial and light-hearted read, this book is great. But since I know JQ writes more intense books, too, I found it sort of lacking.

heidenkind said...

I was never a huge JQ fan, but I did enjoy her Bridgerton books. And I thought The Lost Duke of Wyndham was skirting the edge of brilliant (I know, I'm the only person who liked that book). But cutesy banter can only take me so far, and her last two books have just done NOTHING for me. I need at least some plot and action to carry me through 400 + pages!

Anyway, I'm going on a JQ hiatus.

Aleksandra said...

I loved the book, but it was my first taste of Julia Quinn!

Penelope said...

Hi Heidenkind! I agree....there is a huge gap between the Bridgerton books and the recent releases by JQ. It makes me sad.

Penelope said...

Aleksandra.....this is your first JQ book? NOOOOOOO! You must read the Bridgerton books...they are so wonderful....seriously, start that series and tell me what you think....they are very, very romantic. Sigh.

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