asked about what on the back of a book will turn us off or make us want to read it, and I got sidetracked
(as I do), but I was trying to think about it. What DOES work for me on the back of a book? My list of turnoffs is nearly infinite and rather capricious, but the list of things that appeal is rather shorter.
I thought I'd look at some actual book backs and see. Bolded bits are particularly appealing, for whatever idiosyncratic reasons.
First off, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
. Handicapped due to consisting of quotes, ugh. I hate that. (Apparently other people buy books because of blurbs from favorite authors, but I don't--unless the quote has useful content.) But it has a few appealing bits from the chap I've never heard of, including "mixture of historical realism and utterly fantastical events
: I almost began to believe that there really was a tradition of 'English magic'
that I had not heard about." This hints at deep background stuff that I love, as well as the mix of worlds that I like.The Light Ages
: "A strange Victorian age twisted out of true
(blah blah) aether mines
(blah blah) " ... "In an isolated and dilapidated manor
, the precocious Annalise...is not quite of this world. After a mysterious trip to the manor with his mother, Robert becomes fascinated with Annalise--an attraction
that still exists when they meet again in London years later. Now a revolutionary
, Robert wishes to destroy the upper-class world that Annalise has come to call her own. .... And what they discover ... might end this age
of misery once and for all." OOH! Magic! Industry! Revolutionaries! Love! Epochs ending! GIMME! The back is chockfull of keywords that appeal to me, but the book doesn't really come through on most of that. (This book is responsible for one of the few negative reviews I've bothered writing on Amazon.)Fudoki
: Um. The actual back is quotes from cool people like Charles de Lint that tell me nothing about the content. The front is a very nice painting of a woman with feline features in Japanese armor. It's well done and not cheesy. I really don't need anything else. But the flap is full of awesome: "the world of the creature who comes to be known as Kagaya-hime, a sometime woman warrior
, occasional philosopher, and reluctant confidante to noblemen. ... the tale of a being who starts her journey
... as a humble--if ever such a being as a cat
can be humble--small tortoiseshell feline." And a bit about how she may be nothing but a figment of the imagination of an aging empress
. (By the way, you can buy this excellent book, by kijjohnson
, in a lovely large trade paperback for just $5.98 from Amazon right now!)Snake Agent: A Detective Inspector Chen Novel
: I'm not sure if this is the actual back copy as I can't find my book (you know, it's annoying that Amazon doesn't automatically include that). Anyway: "Detective Inspector Chen is the Singapore Three police department's snake agent - the detective in charge of supernatural and mystical investigations
. Chen has several problems: in addition to colleagues who don't trust him
and his mystical ways, a patron goddess whom he has offended
and a demonic wife who's tired of staying home alone, he's been paired with one of Hell's own vice officers
, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, to investigate the illegal trade in souls." Oh, I'm in, between all that and a cover that makes it clear that the stakes are high
and that this isn't another generic softcore porn urban fantasy (there's nudity on the cover, but it's realistic and has wrinkles and folds, and there are no Frederick's of Hollywood corsets or tacky "tribal" tattoos in sight).
Sadly, the book I'm looking for and want to read right now
doesn't exist, I think. Like I said to telophase
, I need to have my heart broken and then patched back together. I need a fierce partnership, people who would and nearly do die for each other (even better if it's not reciprocated at first, but I like my partnerships to wind up unbroken in the end*), detailed settings or worlds (or at least a sense that the settings are well thought out), good writing ... I disfavor straight-up fantasy these days; it's OK if it has a twist like the above, but The Lies of Locke Lamora
is the closest thing to traditional fantasy that I'll read anymore. I'm not big on hard SF anymore, either. (EDIT: I want it to be about grownups, not kids. EDIT AGAIN: Character development is EXTREMELY important, but a plot that actually goes somewhere is, too. EDIT AGAIN: I vastly prefer earned triumph to either too-neat happy endings or pointless tragedy, which I view as equally weak copouts.) There are actually a bunch of setting details and other things I'm in the mood for but can't articulate. But even aside from that, I'd take recs.
It needs to not be manga or a movie or an unfinished series; it needs to be a novel or finished set of novels. (EDIT: Well, it could be an ongoing series, but the books have to stand alone. No sagas with cliffhangers.)
Anything you recommend is likely to be rejected due to something random (like, ugh, barbarians, or ugh, vampires, or ... something), so please don't take it personally. BUT. If you have an idea, please PLEASE pass it along.
*and, tangentially, I am goddamned well sick of killing off the sidekicks' love interests as a cheap way to add or resolve drama. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, REDACTED SUMMER COMIC-BOOK MOVIE AND REDACTED FANTASY SEQUEL.