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