Victim of MIA Backstory

This book was alright. 

If you haven’t read it already, try The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden. It certainly is a refreshing read with a young, hip style that is all its own, throwing in so many elements I would expect from a weird-as-a-compliment Austin author.

I was semi-interested when I read its synopsis:

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.

And then I was even more interested when I peeked at the first page:

His birth certificate reads Muzikayise McCarthy, but nobody calls him that except his grandfather and anyone looking for a busted lip. Though right now, you could curse his name a million times, and he wouldn’t hear you.

He’s too busy mourning the fate of his dick. (3)

Certainly a liberal read if you’re already throwing dicks around on the first page. But, as I kept reading (and trust me, you will. This is a quick book), the conflicts kept building. I guess it’s safe to say this is a well-rounded book, but to me, it feels almost overwhelming to the point that each of these conflicts seem shallow. To the point by the end, I feel underwhelmed. I’m left with so many questions, from so many unresolved conflicts, asking myself why did all these things have to happen this way. Such as, SPOILERS:

  1. Syndey, for being a ‘young’ demigoddess, why do you have so much anger? Why must you prey on others fear? Just from reading, we can see that not all demigods behave in this manner.
  2. Nomvula, you were destroyed. And, I thank you for your bravery, but obviously you will be reborn. Sydney had told of when this happened to her once, so are you two fated to do this fighting again?
  3. Mr. Tau, which wife was this who had died? You originally had six tree-wives, each with the heart of a crab, an eagle, a dolphin, a peacock, a rat, and a serpent. Was the one who had died the serpent? Is that why Felicity has so much persuasion to command. If so, wouldn’t Felicity be the strongest? Isn’t Felicity your son/daughter? I wish I knew the full relationship going on here.
  4. And what happened to the drug that is ‘godsend’? Are we all going to ignore what happened at Riya’s concert? How a million people were loosed with the drug? And why did Rife ever think that was a good idea? It seems I would be concerned on the aftereffects, especially since it took Muzi and Elkin maybe one or two trips before these two teenagers experienced these permanent powers. So how come there aren’t more high-powered teens running around?

I have a lot of unfinished business with this book until I could call it good, but you know what, it looks like this is Nicky’s first book, so manybe round two, we’ll see what happens to all this material.

Just goes to show you backstory’s important because a lot of what was missed was how these characters had developed, and to not ever forget about resolution because there’s a more than a few conflicts we forgot to see the end for.

Drayden, Nicky. The Prey of Gods. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2017. Print.

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Smooth Introduction

Then there’s Schwab. I liked his last book, and I like this one so far. So simple, so smooth. His story moves like a fine brandy or rum, moving with a building heat as you read more and more.

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat,” he started (1).

Fact.

Schwab starts A Darker Shade of Magic with this small fact, stating the coat is quite unusual, before developing more reasoning behind why its such a strange coat, and why it was so important for the character, Kell. Kell needed this coat for his traveling between realms, which not only gave some development to the character but also built the type of world it was for the reader.

This is a quick scene setting done well. All it required was simplicity.

And then he wraps up this section of the book in the same fashion:

“Kell stepped forward through the door and into darkness, shrugging off Grey London like a coat” (35).

Isn’t that superb? Opens and closes the same way.

Overall, Schwab’s style of writing is very simple, no foreshadowing, no hidden details, which I know is not for everyone, but the story itself is moved so smoothly that you find yourself devouring the book like  Thanksgiving meal – quickly. Rather than savoring the meal you slaved all day cooking.

Happy Reading!

Schwab, VE. A Darker Shade of Magic. New York, NY: Tor, 2015. Print.

PS. Did you guys know VE is short for Victoria?

My apologies for non-fandom

I am not a fan of this book, which I know is something negative, so let me say 2 things positive: This book has conflict. This book has complexity. But as a writer always interested in the why and will behind characters, this book has left me wanting.

Featuring The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles. 1-10.

I have just finished the Nine Princes in Amber, and I find myself wanting to read, wanting to see what everyone else praises, but I am really reluctant to continue, which is saying something, although I do have my own reasons:

1. Why does everyone want to be king of Amber?

Seriously. Why does everyone want to be king? Every male sibling wants to be, and the most we hear as to why is “Amber was the greatest city which had ever existed or ever would exist. Amber had always been and always would be, and every other city, everywhere, every other city that existed was but a reflection of a shadow of some phase of Amber…I remember thee with love, city that I was born to rule….” (61). Cool. So, what happened to first born? Why is every other sibling trying to kill the other? Don’t siblings for the most part get along? And where is the father in this? This seems like a major conflict line, which I get as to why it’s not explained, but at least give me more reason for them to rule besides each sibling thinking, this is the best city ever. (Also, what happened to the girls wanting to be queens?)

2. Why can’t Corwin remember anything and why does this keep happening?

As he mentions, “I am suffering from amnesia. I don’t dig all this talk about Shadows. I don’t even remember much about Amber.” And apparently this has happened for some time. As he mentions later, “I had been without full memory since the reign of Elizabeth I” (60). Why only him? Why not his siblings? And why is this conflict never again addressed in this book. This is a serious issue. What if it happens again?

3. The battles bored me.

The details within this book are amazing. It’s clear this author is a fanatic for world creation, and you can tell with his devotion to the parallel universe theory, especially since one deviation from the original world leads to a billion other possibilities. But for the battles, it’s always “three hundred dead from eating poisonous native fruits, a thousand slain in a massive stampede of buffalo-like creatures, seventy-three gone…” (77). I skim read most of the battle, more so than usual, stopping at the beginning of every paragraph to see if the battle was over yet. Talking about the battle this way, although visual, made it too omniscient and led me to being disconnected from the character, and bored.

I want to like this book. Everyone online says that this is a classic fantasy. But I wonder if classic is meaning the start of fantasy, an original fantasy, not necessarily good fantasy? I’m not sure what to think. But I think I have to put this book down before I try any more. I simply don’t want to read it, and I don’t particularly like forcing myself to. But please, somebody convince me otherwise.

Zelazny, Roger. The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles. 1-10. New York, NY: Avon Books. Print.

A Voice that Speaks

I think everyone wishes for when they speak, the stars stop their trek across the sky, pausing for a moment to listen, wondering what it was that was said. I think everyone wishes that for a moment, they are heard.

And for the voice in the book I just read – I listened.

Jemisin is talented, and from reading some of her earlier books, I can tell she has a strong voice in the making, that is only strengthening through practice. It’s hard for me to quantify voice, just as it’s hard to quantify volume and tremor through words. But her words hold a certain vibration upon the page. They seem to sing with life.

The streets are paved not with easy-to-replace cobbles, but with a smooth, unbroken, and miraculous substance the locals have dubbed asphalt. Even the shanties of Yumenes are daring because they’re just thin-walled shacks that would blow over in a bad windstorm, let alone a shake. Yet they stand, as they have stood for generations.

At the core of the city are many tall buildings, so it is perhaps unsurprising that one of them is larger and more daring than all the rest combined…Pyramids are the most stable architectural form, and this one is pyramids times five because why not?

None of these places or people matter, by the way. I simply point them out for context. (Jemisin 3).

I think the reason this section stood out to me was how natural, how easy-going and casual her voice appeared. There’s opinion when she speaks: miraculous asphalt, daring Yumenes. It bleeds into her writing, originating within her and then her characters. And while this is something I personally enjoy – I usually favor strongly opinionated people – I think others can agree this is something to support. It gives your characters more personality when they have a voice, an opinion, a stance.

All the sudden, perspective is not this 2D definition of ‘you’ or ‘I’ but 3D definition of where you stand, how you feel in that moment in time.

And I think for this story, this story in particular, it was necessary to establish so much opinion, so much perspective. For a character who develops over the course of the novel, who we see in snapshots over her lifetime, it was necessary to give her personality to show how she changes and grows.

Jemisin, N.K. Fifth Season. New York, NY: Orbit, 2015. Print.

Character Descriptions

Tonight I promise will be short and sweet.

A while ago I finished Touch by Claire North. About a person whose soul can switch bodies with a touch; (s)he loves each body she inhabits. But when her current body dies a violent murder, she escapes and vows for revenge. This book asks the question of what would you do for love?

I liked it. Didn’t stand out too much in the way for books, but one feature that really stood out to me were the character descriptions.

“My hand connected with the leg of a bearded man, brown-trousered and grey-haired, who perhaps, in another place, bounced sploit grandchildren happily upon his knee. His face was distended with panic, and now he ran, knocking strangers aside with his elbows and fists, though he was doubtless a good man” (North 1).

Automatically I can create a general picture: a bearded man.

Then North creates specifics, lending enough details for our mind to fill in the rest of the image: brown-trousered and grey-haired. It’s these specifics that help our mind begin to craft an image. You need details for an image to stick. Generals aren’t enough.

And then she creates feeling – him spoiling grandchildren. Attaching a picture, a history to a character gives them emotion. Realism. 

By presenting him with conflicting actions, she creates depth: knocking aside strangers with elbows and fists.

The book continues with a lot of in depth images; people created within a few sentences. It’s a skill required for this book, for a body-jumper. And it’s a great skill for any author, which can be easily mimicked, using Touch as a guide.

North, Claire. Touch. New York, NY: Redhook Books, 2015. Print.

Liar

Day-to-day life does not have subtitles. If it did, I’m sure there would plenty of things I would have to reflect on. Did that student lie to me about having a doctor’s appointment? Was that really a hall pass or did they forge it between classes? There’s this spectrum of truth that I think we may over embellish within our daily lives, which is much easier to see in the contents of a book than the 3D nature of life.

Take for example this paragraph:

“Yes.” Emphatically yes. Shards of memory remain: a flash of swords in twilit alleyway in the remilitarized zone. Blood in the fountains. “I was an academic. A member of the professoriat.” An array of firewalled assembler gates, lined up behind the fearsome armor of a customs checkpoint between polities. Pushing screaming, imploring civilians toward a shadowy entrance-“I taught history.” That much is-was-true.” It all seems boring and distant now.” The brief flash of an energy weapon, then silence. “I was getting stuck in a rut, and I needed to refresh myself. I think.” (Stross 3)

While reading, you get this obvious conflict between dialogue and thoughts, how he tells his companion that he was a history professor when really he’s thinking about how he used to be a soldier, fighting in a war. I like the clear opposition. Professors are boring; soldiers are frightening. Through his adjectives, you can tell this is the idea that Stross is going for, and I really appreciate it.

And I think this should be a common technique for writers. Nobody always tells the truth. Almost no one, and if they did, I’m not sure they’d be human. To err is human, or however the quote goes. So I think characters should at least lie about something, and this is a good way how to do it: Create direct conflict between dialogue and reflection.

I would also create reflection on the lies afterward to create motive – why are you lying? How is it important? What’s the alternative?

These should be explained to the reader because after that, you have purpose. You have a story!

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.

Creating characters

I have to be honest with you guys – when I choose characters, I basically go through a list of characteristics until something pops out and fits the personality of my characters.

But there’s a few attributes I like to come up before my character is finalized.

  1. Likes – I like to think of this as hobbies. What does my character like to do in their free time? What makes them happy? Everyone has something, and I’ve actually been using this Wiki page as a source of ideas. There’s quite a few.
  2. Dislikes – Okay, everyone has something they hate. For me, that would be swimming. I really don’t like to swim. Maybe for my character, this can extend to a fear, a phobia, a bad experience, or a taste/flavor preference. Anything of the sorts.
  3. Friends – Who are they friends with? Are they all within the same age group? This will label them in one of those stereotypical friend circles you would’ve imagined in high school or college, i.e. the jocks, the nerds, the gamers, the cheerleaders, the dancers, the theatre kids, etc. (Notice how everyone is defined by their hobbies.)
  4. Family – They don’t have to have parents, but knowing whether or not they have siblings or still see their grandparents, this will help influence some of their family values, and whether or not they want a family of their own.
  5. Values – I talk to different friends of mine, and it’s interesting to hear about their varying culture/family values. One friend of mine prefers his friends over his family, and the other will put their family above all else even while they don’t like them. These are very abstract concepts, but you only need one.
  6. Looks – Google. Seriously, start googling people at a certain age, hair color, or feature, and copy down that picture. This will help you keep that character’s look in your head and make it easier to talk about them in your story.
  7. History – They should have a little bit of background that you can drop here or there, peppered throughout the story. Did anything traumatic happen? Any scarring experiences? Maybe not, but maybe they have a favorite memory.
  8. Flaws– To make your characters feel real, they need a flaw. Absolutely need it. I referenced this earlier here.

As Writers Write summarized, this could also be attributed into three separate categories: social, physical, and psychological aspects. But, I like to list these biography details as specifics since I actually go through my characters like this and have found out that this makes the character usually real enough in my head that I can write about them.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Every time I read science fiction or fantasy, there’s the usual new power struggle, of defiance or denial – either way you want to think about it. And the book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is no different.

“As the full powers of my adult consciousness returned to my child’s body, I fell first into a confusion, then an agony, then a doubt, then a despair, then a screaming, then a shrieking, and finally, aged seven years old, I was committed to St Margot’s Asylum for Unfortunates, where I frankly believed myself to belong, and within six months of my confinement succeeded in throwing myself out of a window on the third floor” (North 8).

I thought this was beautiful, not because of the style, but because it shows the truth of every ability or power. That there’s is ugly just as there is beauty. I think every book stands to look at the faults of not only their characters but the powers they experience.

Too often you read books where it’s shame, embarrassment and then overjoyed acceptance. This book tells the truth that there is suicide in the world, there are people who can’t handle it, and although this whole book is not like that, I appreciate that it went in that direction and experienced it.

Not much to comment on besides that. I think every book should show the flaws just as much as the strengths.

North, Claire. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. New York, NY: Redhook Books, 2014. Print.

Lightbringer Series: Plot Examination, Part 3

At this point, everyone’s probably thinking, how much more can you talk about this series? So, I’ll try to summarize all the characters perspectives as much as I can in order to focus on the question, how do each of these add to the overall plot?

SPOILER ALERT!

Point Of Views:

1. Karris (in book 1, start chapter 18)

Karris, is a bichrome drafter and a Blackguard, and in this series, we follow her perspective as she learns about the true identity of Prism Gavin. Here, I have to be honest. I saw no point to her POV. She found out about the identity, which added to the overall romance between her and Gavin, but I’ve never been a huge romantic. There was a point that I thought her POV would add tension since her brother turned out to be the Color Prince – the leader of the old religion and new war, but nothing developed from this. Her POV doesn’t get truly exciting until the third book, where she becomes the leader of the Spectrum. I expect her role to grow in the fourth book.

2. Liv (in book 1, chapter 30)

A bichrome drafter, who serves the Color Prince. Her POV took on a huge role that slowly grew in importance because as you read, you’ll learn that she takes you through the perspective of the villains. By serving the Color Prince, she is serving the enemy. I really appreciated this perspective because the villains aren’t always painted human, and having her here, it really gave the Prince some depth and added dimensions to the conflict, besides just that of “war.” Of course, with her becoming a god with the superviolet…she’ll ease take on one of the greater roles in this series.

3. Teia (in book 2, chapter 28)

A used-to-be-slave, Blackguard inductee, and paryl drafter. Honestly, with Teia making such a late appearance, I didn’t expect much of her. She was a late development, but this can be explained considering the trajectory of Kip’s education. When Kip learns about the Nine Kings Cards, he learns about Janus Borig, the shimmercloaks. This is when Teia’s education begins, when she learns that she’s not only a paryl drafter but a lightsplitter. This is where she becomes apart of the team of shimmercloaks, known as the Order of the Broken Eye. Because these are a secret guild whose purpose is built on keeping order in the land, I’m sure they will become immensely important later in the series. Weeks is building himself up for a finale – so much complexity!

4. Dazen (in book 1, chapter 3)

Real name, Gavin Guile – the old Prism elect before he was replaced during the False Prism War. Honestly, I was expecting him to break out. If a man is in prison, and you read about him ready to escape, waiting to escape, you bring along the expectation that he will free himself, so when he was murdered, it’s safe to say I was disappointed. His POV I then saw as filler. His craziness didn’t really do much at that point other than add to the true Dazen’s own craziness, to show how desperate he was that his brother not escape.

5. Corvan (in book 1, chapter 59)

The war general for the true Dazen or current Prism. I don’t think I read too much from his perspective. He was rare. I would have to go back to read his specific chapter, but I feel his POV didn’t amount to much. It didn’t influence the plot a lot, and his own influence doesn’t ramp in importance until he becomes a satrap. And at that point, I would’ve liked to seen his perspective. We missed so much time between when he saved a city and became the husband of a seer. I would’ve liked to seen that. He deals important information, being the main correspondence. (Maybe this would be better as a side story since it doesn’t contribute immediately to the plot.)

6. Ironfist (in book 2, chapter 6)

Commander of the Blackguard (and the most fierce character besides Gavin). This man has had a few chapters for his POV, and although I don’t think it’s necessarily important for him to have the camera, I think his perspective has been helpful for seeing scenes that we need to see in order to develop background. I think the only reason he was used was because he was well-known to the reader and got around easily around Chromeria.

7. Gunner (2-10)

Ship captain. This guy is crazy. Literally crazy. He wants to be famous, legendary, and his perspective gives us some of this insight. But even with commanding Gavin as a slave and releasing him, I feel like Gunner’s perspective, as few as it was revealed, didn’t add to the story. At least, I don’t see the point, not yet.

8. Aglaia Crassos (2-56) – teia owner

Teia’s old slave owner. Her perspective wasn’t necessarily important, but I think it was important to justify the command one of the leaders of the shimmercloaks – Master Sharp. Mostly to help develop his character. Not strictly necessary, but a fun scene to read.

9. Vox (2-59)

Shimmercloak. This is one of those once written scenes, where they’re confusing to read because you haven’t been set up in the setting or character-head orientation. I had to re-read this, after knowing who was who. And knowing that, I think this was mainly set up for the Shimmercloaks – their purpose, and who the people were who killed Janus Borig.

10. Samila Sayeh (2-63, 3-53)

Color wight. Okay, I’m going to be honest. I love this perspective. In the story so far, all color wights are bad and evil, and having this perspective in combination with the color prince, who speaks for the defense of not killing people once they break their halo…this proves that maybe the Color Prince has some grounds on what he’s saying. Maybe he’s not as wrong as we thought. Maybe we should doubt the Chromeria. After all, they’re killing people before they even break the halo. Maybe they’re not as innocent as we thought.

11. Blackguard commander (2-65)

I don’t even know who is talking, which is weird because for most of the book, we’re in a third person perspective, and all the sudden we get this random first person POV. That must mean it’s important, right? Or, is it because we’re closer to the character’s thoughts, we’re supposed to think what he thinks? The commander is contemplating the line between normal and wight-like. When is luxin-body modifications okay? The Chromeria says no. The Color Prince says yes. Who’s right? Maybe that’s the point of this chapter.

12. The master (2-91) – andross guile?

Another perspective I’m not sure who it is, but there’s a few clues. With the gloves, the cloak, and the constant heat-vision/red-luxin, I have a good hunch it’s Andross Guile – the red wight. This was kind of cool not knowing who it was, not getting much of a chapter, and seeing a nice contrast compared to the logical blue wight, Samila Sayeh. It also shows us how Kip has something Andross wants.

13. Zymun (3-7)

A young, prideful drafter and Karris’ son. He doesn’t seem too important yet. And I kind of would prefer him not to have a perspective. He keeps struggling for power, and even though he can draft nearly all the colors, he hasn’t quite gained a good position yet. People keep rejecting him because of his personality. I would prefer if he stayed that way – as a way of the author rejecting him as well, but I have a feeling he’s going to come back. It seems like there might be a battle between him and his half brother Kip.

14. Darjan (3-13)

I believe this is someone who used to be an old God because they speak of Atirat needing them as a pure drafter for her command. But then they go to another color to draft and become something wight-like. In the back, Weeks defines her as a “legendary drafter during the time of Lucindonius and Karris Shadowblinder” (766). Is this meant to give us a glimpse into the old religion?

15. Arys Greenveil (3-31)

Sub-red on the Spectrum. Another Master Sharp moment, when he kills the sub-red leader on the Spectrum. Kind of cool to see this woman’s perspective considering how much Gavin made fun of/depended on her weaknesses, but I feel like this just reinforces Sharp’s behavior. Always working a job. Mostly emotionless, shameless.

16. Quentin (3-60)

A luxiat, or priest of Orholam. This gives us some insight into Quentin’s own goals. And my gosh, here we learn the luxiat want the special knife back, the one that steals colors from drafters. But instead of just stealing it, they ask Quentin to shoot Kip to get rid of the heir. Is this… Now I’m going to have to read back on what happened to Quentin. I remember the two were close, but I don’t remember him shooting a bullet or aligning with Kip. I’m going to have to read back.

17. Shimmercloak (3-62)

This is like the origin story of all things Shimmercloak, and I enjoyed it. It was kind of cool to see the “science” of how it was done. And now we see why the knife is so important. It’s the color-taker, and apparently it has more power than we think. If it can take the Prism’s powers, can it give them back? Can it grant anyone the power to be Prism?

This series is already so complex. Weaving a story about not only a culture but a battle between beliefs, this is surely one of the most complex stories I’ve read in a long time and deserves to be called something along the lines of an epic, if not that.

I think one of the strengths of this series was not only its story complexity but choice in perspective. A lot of the characters chosen here were based directly on their perspective, meant to develop both sides of the war – good and evil, and then twist our minds enough that we’re confused on which side is truly good.

In summary, the main lesson to take away would be on how can you use characters to truly develop sides that aren’t really good/evil but more two differences. I especially like the evilness of wights and then a back-and-forth argument, using multiple perspectives of different wights.

Of course, these only reflect my opinions and are open to debate. As I encourage all readers, everyone should take the time to reflect and analyze what they read in order to learn techniques that may or may not work for them.

Weeks, Brent. The Black Prism. New York, NY: Orbit, 2010. Print.

Weeks, Brent. The Blinding Knife. New York, NY: Orbit, 2013. Print

Weeks, Brent. The Broken Eye. New York, NY: Orbit, 2014. Print

Character’s strengths and weaknesses as related to plot

I just finished the John Scalzi book, Lock In, and even though I don’t think style was the most noticeable feature of this novel, I definitely think character development is, which is what I’ll try to focus on.

The main character is Agent Chris Shane, a newly appointed FBI agent, who is assigned to his veteran partner, the old Agent Vann. Agent Shane is a locked-in Haden, who uses his threep to interact within society and within his job, while Agent Vann is a survivor of Haden, who gained the potential to become an integrator. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I’ll go over a few of each in order to stress why this was a great addition to the character’s development.

SPOILER! (Some of these details aren’t revealed until later in the book)

AGENT SHANE – main

Weakness: His threep, or mechanical robot body

I know this is hard to believe for a weakness, but because technically he is a victim of the Haden’s symptoms, where his consciousness is permanently locked into his body, I would consider this a disability. The only way he can escape is through this special biological engineering, where his consciousness can be linked to this robot. This turns around in the book to be a strength, which I really appreciated, because when he is required to travel, his consciousness can be inserted instantly into any threep, leading to him being the only partner who can travel for his detective work. And because his body is technically a robot, he can take far more damage and far more pain than a normal human, leading to him catching the bad guys after any normal person would cave in from abuse. This was a great dual characteristic!

Weakness: His fame, being the son of a famous NBA/running senator

Again, seems like it would be a strength, but fame can be really distracting for a normal life or job, when you’re fame as the son of a famous man and poster boy of the Haden syndrome can influence people to already recognize you or fit you to their own perspective. Shane certainly doesn’t like it, but he ends up overcoming this negative characteristic when he starts his job. All the sudden what was once a burden becomes a critical technique in doing his job. Coincidentally, his job as an FBI agent, conducting cross-country integrator investigations, becomes connected to the same people his father is supporting, directly related to the politics the country is currently experiencing – how many rights are the Haden sufferers losing?

Strength: His brains, or smartness

This seems silly to say, and I’d have to go through to point out exact instances where this comes across, but thank goodness Shane is smart! He can actually figure this case out on his own, although there is definitely some visual struggling. This makes more sense to me as compared to Seven, where the new detective kind of flailed when compared to the old detective. I was happy to get someone smart here since he was hired for his brains. Otherwise, I don’t think he’d be the right fit for the FBI.

AGENT VANN – secondary

Strength: Experienced agent of the FBI

Any time you’re older or more experienced, you have a greater advantage over the newbies, such as Shane. And this comes through the book. Vann is used to arguing with potential perps; she can play the good cop, bad cop routine. She’s used to and good at doing her job. So it makes sense to have her be good at it. If she’s been at it for this long, she should be good. A good detail of her experience is how local law enforcement hates her for taking their cases. I like the added complexity, and it helps make her feel more realistic.

Weakness: Human

This shouldn’t be a weakness. This is how everyone is, and yet, when it comes to a gun fight between good guys versus bad guys, of course she loses. She’s human. I thought this was a good way to reverse Shane’s weakness to a strength and turn her positive characteristic into a negative.

Weakness: Bad experience with integrating

*Integrating – merging consciousness with another human to share the same physical body

This doesn’t come through until later in the novel, but Vann used to be an integrator. You have to go through special training and education, and when she was put through practice sessions, she learned that she had to drug herself to make herself feel comfortable with the process. And when she finally won the job, there was a horrible experience where a Haden client tried to kill herself in Vann’s body in order to know what it felt like. This disturbed Vann on such a level that she is consistently self-medicated, especially during the investigation in the book since it’s specifically about clients hijacking integrators’ bodies – her exact fear. This plays out to why she is at a disadvantage, why she isn’t as big a help as you would expect from the senior detective. I really appreciated this because while it gave the new detective the lead for the investigation, it excused the older detective for her seeming laziness.

Overall, I appreciated the complexity of the character development. There was justification on why this characteristic should exist, why it makes sense, and it ended up with a balanced relationship between main and secondary characters, which ended up with me happier than I was with the movie Seven. I would call this a nice read and recommend this to others when examining how to develop characters.

Scalzi, John. Lock In. New York, NY: Tor, 2014. Print.