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Darkover: First Contact
Marion Zimmer Bradley
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The Usual Apocalypse (The Society #2) - Christine  Price Witty banter to the rescue! Funny dialog and observations almost, but not quite, made me forget that there is some weird shit going on in this book.

So yeah, the book is funny and engaging, even if the MCs are pretty much sickeningly perfect and cute and understanding and instalovers, and you can dredge up another few adjectives in the same vein, if you want. I liked them. They were very likable. They were meant to be likable. But even the relationship between Matt and Tate is more interesting, if you think about it.

So now the world building. I hardly know where to start.....

This is book two. I was good and read book one (In Darkness Bound) before book two and almost didn't even start on book two, because book one had such a vague notion of world building and the MCs (m/m/m) didn't make me feel the love at all. Now I am wondering whether book one wasn't a prequel meant to be read after book two. How else would you explain that this mysterious Society, that pretty much every character in these books is a member of, doesn't even get explained until halfway book two? Why leave the reader wondering for an entire book and a half what the fuck we're dealing with?

Then, after we get the infodumpy history of the Society since WWII, I am still wondering. Is this an alternate universe / alternate history story? Or is this supposed to be some Super Sekrit Society us muggles aren't aware of right now? Dun dun dun dunnnnn. Are 'normal' (read: not part of the Society or related to its members) people in this book aware of this Society? I don't know. I don't think we ever meet any 'normal' people. Is the Society the government? Is it a government institute, something like a paranormal FBI? Or is it Super Sekrit and hidden from the government? Two books and I still don't know.

Even though the Society started out hunting all 'non-humans'* the definition of which included all people with paranormal gifts, after an internal revolution, it now seems to be made up of mostly paranormal people. Obviously, that changes the rules you would normally apply for your characters, and it changes the expectations that the reader has. But, and this for me is a big one, it doesn't mean that the characters can now do whatever the fuck they want. Teleport! Read thoughts! Diffuse car bombs with your mind! Become beings of light! If, as an author, you're not going to play by the rules of the 'real' world, you need to make sure that you establish a solid set of new rules and limits for the world you create. What happens if you don't? Well, what happens for me is that as a reader I have no clue when a character breaks those limits and does something extraordinary. Several times I only figured out in retrospect that a character has done something special. The emotional impact of the scene was sadly pretty much lost by then. Sometimes I'd figure it out halfway through a scene because it read like a climax and I'd feel like a spectator coming in to watch the match during overtime, trying to catch up with the excitement of all fans jumping up and down in the bleachers, but not quite succeeding because I wasn't there for the build up. 'Wait, what, he just scored? Oh, yay, awesome!'

*About the non-humans. In one scene we get an offhanded remark mentioning 'vampires, werewolves and Fae' as part of this world. I had my WTF moment about the vampires halfway through book 1, but since we do not meet any werewolves, let alone Fae and they are never mentioned in this book again, I'll say it again: WTF? If they are there, I want to see them. If I don't get to see them, please don't fuck with my mind and don't mention them.