Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jim Butcher's Storm Front

So I went to a Jim Butcher reading a while back and figured I might as well buy a book. It's not every day that you see a New York Times Best Selling author and I should get his autograph. I was already going to spend about 8 bucks on transportation and had dragged one very unwilling, hungry, and grumpy human being along for the ride.
So, who is this Jim Butcher guy anyway?
From the Q&A/ signing, he's a nerd/ dork of the highest order in a lovable, endearing, if-I-drank-beer,-I'd-like-to-drink-with-him sort of guy. (I wouldn't drink with George Bush, just so you know.) Even though I'm fairly sure that he would be open to milk and cookies, too. Not the kind of guy that I'd have coffee with or an in depth conversation about craft or style, but fun, cool, nice, and laidback nevertheless.
So, how was Storm Front?
I liked Storm Front. The title was a little too badass, vague, and abstract for my taste, but I liked the story and besides thumbing through the first thirty pages before the signing, I finished it in one sitting.
It involves a normal guy named Harry Dresden who has fairly normal problems like paying rent, getting laid, and not getting along with his co-workers. Except he's a wizard and he's having trouble paying rent because he hasn't been getting jobs, the only girl who's remotely interested is a tabloid reporter who's milking him for information, and lots of the guys he's working with at the Chicago Police Department think he's a hack, a looney, or both. And on top of it, there's dark magic, murders, drugs, and mafia.
If you're looking for a book in which you weep from the sheer beauty of the prose, then this ain't the book for you. It neither pretends, promises, or delivers literary fireworks. It would impede the plot and detract from the real explosions. Who knows, you might get confused if Jim Butcher included extended metaphors. This is the sort of book you read on planes, while walking, when you're having a bad day, hate men, and want to see a guy roasted over a pit.
The scenes are okay. I had a few quibbles about the characters. Most were decently described, but the good people were a little too good-looking and the bad people were ugly, and the badass people were a little too hot. Toot-toot, the fairy, and Morgan, the scary sword wielding warden are more ridiculous than they need to be. But I was impressed by the plot and as a whole, I've read many worse first novels, some of which did endeavour to be high art.
It's a fast read that doesn't take itself too seriously and neither should its readers.
My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water. -Mark Twain
Though, it should be pointed out that not everyone drinks supernatural water.

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