Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The City's Son

The City's Son by Tom Pollock

I just finished this and my initial reaction was like, OH MAN TOTALLY WICKED. But now I'm contemplating it and being like, DUDE, THAT AUTHOR, ALL THE SYMBOLISM. SHOULD I REREAD IT AND FIND EVERYTHING? ...NO. MORE BOOKS.

...yeah that happened.

TO THE AMAZON SUMMARY! "Running away from her traitorous best friend and her distant father, teenage graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius, the ragged crown prince of London’s underworld—a place where glassy spiders steal voices on telephone wires, railwraiths terrorize the train tubes, and deadly scaffwolves stalk the shadows.
Reach, the malign god of demolition, is on a rampage, destroying the creatures of hidden London to lay claim to the skyscraper throne. Caught up in helping Filius raise an alleyway army to battle Reach, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when the enemy claims her best friend, Beth must choose between the acceptance she finds in the streets and the life she left behind." AMAZON LINK OF THE SUMMARY WAS SURROUNDED BY REVIEWSSSS

I'm only going to talk about this until about a third of the way through the book and then I'm going to dive into spoiler land in the sense of only talking about the things that got me riled up. Just so you know my game plan.

So first, our main characters are Beth, Pen (Parva for real), and Filius. Arguably, Beth's Dad Paul could be considered a main character as well as Reach, and Gutterglass,'s my review so too bad.

Beth is a rebel without a true cause; she seems to be angry at the world because her mother died. Her Dad, Paul, went into a catatonic state where he seems to perpetually reread the Mom's favorite book over and over again and has for the past four years or so. So Beth has been taking care of herself, with a little help from her best friend Pen. Beth is also a graffiti artist and obsessed with tagging the city of London. Art is what pumps her blood (so to speak).

Pen is Beth's best friend who is a little quieter, fiercely loyal to Beth, and happens to be sexually harassed/abused/raped by a teacher at their school, Dr. Salt. Beth doesn't know this, and it's a theme that exists in the background and motivates Pen to reveal that Beth did a tag at the school of a disfigured representation of one of their teachers because it was either expulsion or foster care (I believe).

Filius, well, we'll get to Filius.

So the book starts with a mysterious narrator (Filius, HA! SPOILED IT!) who is hunting a railway car. It sounds bonkers because it is, but it turns out there are railwraiths in this world (spirits of railway cars and the passengers they once had) and one got lose and went for a good wander around London. Cue Filius hunting it down to destroy it.

Then the book leaps to Beth tagging the disfigured representation of one of their teachers on school grounds, while Pen keeps guard. They have to flee due to the police, and antics are had. Pen goes home and the book skips again to Filius.

The Filius chapters in the beginning open the narration up to the supernatural aspects of London. This is a fantasy book in case you missed that. Filius reveals a weird rivalry between his mother and Reach; his mother is a goddess and Reach is a demolition god. Yeah, it gets weird but stick with it! It'll get weirder!

So we skip back to Beth and Pen and the whole expulsion/suspension/whatever you can't go to this school for a bit happens. Beth is like WHY PEN BLOO HOO HOO and goes home to try and tell her Dad, but her Dad is like WHATEVS BOOK and Beth is like FINE HUFF HUFF and goes off into London to do some graffiti. Cue her bumping into Filius as he fights a railwraith.

So Filius and Beth kind of save each other during the fight, the railwraith gets defeated and Filius kind of eyes her up and is like, "Well, let's take a chance on crazy" and introduces her to the other world of London. The supernatural London. DOOOO DI DOOOO. (Spooky music.)

And that's about a third of the book.

Let's talk about the things that riled me up. OFF TO SPOILER LAND.

So Pen gets ensnared by this wire mistress thing that is loyal to Reach and is basically trapped in a glob of barbed wire that slowly shreds her body apart as it feeds off of her like a parasite. The tricky author seems to make this symbolic of her relationship with Dr. Salt. He's getting all sexually creepy on her and blackmailing her by using his power over Beth to get Pen to do what he wants. Then the wire mistress is getting Pen to do what it wants by ensnaring it in it's barbs...the symbolism made more sense in my head. Dang. There's something there I'm sure because once Pen is free (Hey! I said this was spoiler land!) she has a new sense of self confidence and the book ends with Pen being like, Yeah, I should go to the police. LE SIGH.

...whatever Pen, just do your thing.

At the end there's this big mystery reveal super crap attack that happens as Beth SUDDENLY FIGURES OUT HOW EVERYONE WAS INVOLVED WITH WHAT IN THE WHO AND THE BILL COSBY MOMENT. Seriously, that annoys the crap out of me. It plays back to, "sometimes it takes an outsider's perception to realize the truth" motto. ALL THE ANGRY NOISES. Beth was never played up as someone who was smart, cunning, or valued her life. She did managed to play people's emotions to get them to agree to things, but I don't consider that smart; I consider that emotional prodding. Motivational speaking maybe. Not really like MUST KNOW FACTS HURK smart.

There's a lot of unexplained things that just seem to happen and it's almost expected that the reader will just take things on good faith with no explanation. Or the explanation being "They're all crazy. Crazy people don't have answers. STOP LOOKING BEHIND THE CURTAINS AND GET TO THE REST OF THE BOOK." There are some things I can't ignore. I am supposed to accept that not a lot of normal people know about the supernatural stuff, or if they report it, the rest of the normal people shrug it off or call them daft. Really?

The pavement priests. HOW DOES THAT WORK. HOW. I DON'T GET IT. They seem like really cool idea things but HOW DOES IT WORK. HURK. I also did not understand the "The goddess was making a deal with the synods and gave them souls as tribute and those souls turned into pavement priests BECAUSE!", what? So what happened to the goddess? And why didn't she work out a deal to be rid of Reach in his entirety?

I don't know. I really just don't know about this book.

Too many things seemed to fall way too neatly into place. I can see what material would probably be pursued in the next book, and I do have a small inclination to pick it up. A lot of the characters were pretty neat, and it was neat that people died in plausible ways (like in battle and not just BECAUSE).

ONE MORE THING. There is a weird moment between Beth and Filius where they're kind of like I LIKE YOU LET'S KISS BEFORE THE BATTLE. So they go off into some bushes to kiss. Alright. SUDDENLY NAKED. ...uh what? And then Beth is all, "I just have to appreciate those muscles, it would be dishonoring him if I didn't" but it's written as if both characters just stood staring at each other while they're naked, in some bushes, that's near an army they assembled, and then they're called off to battle before they can do anything. I mean really? What? If that could just be removed, I'd appreciate it. I think the Filius/Beth love was built up nicely but then it got SUPER INTENSE RANDOMLY before being like "oh no, we're still building the love" SUPER INTENSE TEE HEE HEE RAHHHH. 

...yeah, I don't know. I'll most likely read the second one, I'm just still at odds with the first one.

Happy reading!

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