Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book 36: The Rook

After seeing several reviews of this novel on other CBR IV blogs, I decided to give it a shot.  I mostly enjoyed the novel though I think parts of the middle dragged a little bit or went one or two tangents more than necessary.  In that way, I think the author may have a few similiarities to Jasper Fforde.  I quite liked The Eyre Affair but felt that one or two novels into the series the books had too much quirk for the sake of quirk.  I could see where O'Malley, too, could fall into this trap but since everyone but me loves the Thursday Next series, that probably wouldn't be a bad thing for him.
As the novel begins, a woman wakes up in a park surrounded by bodies and with no idea who she is.  She finds a letter in her pocket written by herself directing her to get to safety before opening a second letter with a longer explanation.  She is Myfanwy Thomas (rhymes with Tiffany), and right now has a choice - she can go to a bank, open one of two security boxes and disappear forever, or she can open the other box, find out enough about her former life to continue to live it and find out why she is being targeted.  All set to embark on the escape, she is once again attacked, leading Myfanwy to impersonating herself as she must figure out who attacked her and why.
By choosing the second option, Myfanwy discovers that she is the Rook in a supernatural government organization for people with super powers, that she has super powers which she had already noticed during the second attack (she can control other people's bodies - the original Myfanwy could only do it when touching people, but the new version can do it just by being near them - having no memories, she isn't repressing her powers in the same way that Myfanwy appears to have subconsciously done), and that she is such a good administrator that she was promoted ahead of her peers despite her lack of combat skills.  It also meant that she was great at planning for her eventual memory loss after being forewarned from several prophecies and fortune tellers.  As a result, Myfanwy and the reader have a huge reference guide and series of letters explaining the agency and this world to them.  I think it worked great as a way to catch readers up on the world he has created without seeming too much like an information dump.  While Myfanwy learns that her former self was very quiet and a pushover, her letters also reveal quite a sarcastic and acerbic wit, even if she kept those thoughts to herself.  In comparison, the current Myfanwy is a lot more forceful, though she discovers that she shares the organizational skills.
On her first day back to the office, Myfanwy and her agency discover that one of their oldest enemies, long thought vanquished and extinct, are still around and appear to be planning some type of revenge.  Now Myfanwy is facing this extreme threat while also having to discover the mole in her agency that has already targeted her once.  Overall, I thought this was a very engaging story with just the right amount of humor, and I quite liked getting to know both versions of Myfanwy as well as the supporting characters and their powers.  My only complaint is that I enjoyed all the background and the actual work stuff so much that I was a bit distracted by a subplot with Myfanwy's personal life.  Personally, I felt it could have waited till later in the series since it is obvious that this is going to be the first of several novels.  I understand the author's reasoning, I just wasn't a huge fan of the character introduced since I didn't feel like she added much to the plot.  Still, I am definitely looking forward to reading more about the agency, especially since the novel ends in a way that could lead to some major changes in its structure.

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