Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Random Babbling Thoughts: Etched in Bone

Etched in Bone

by Anne Bishop
Book 5 of The Others
**This book ends the story arc about Meg and the Lakeside Community.

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to her world of The Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shapeshifters and vampires far more powerful than themselves…

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung.  And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace.  But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack.  But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.

So for some reason, whenever I read a scene about the Elders wandering around the Lakeside Courtyard and watching the courtyard's residents, I think of this:

No Face from Spirited Away -- A creature that is both mysterious and kind of creepy, and probably something you don't want to cross.

I have no idea why.  This is just the image that came to mind.

Meanwhile, I found it hard not to chuckled at this:

Vlad stared at Simon.  "Meg told the Elders they were..."

"Bad puppies," Simon finished.  "Yeah."

A minute passed before Vlad said, "Why?"

They didn't say 'please' when they asked for cookies."

"I don't know what to say."

Simon scratched behind an ear that was now Wolf-shaped and furry.  "That's okay.  Meg said plenty for all of us."

After some thought about Etched in Bone, I realized that I was probably conveying my excitement about the series overall into my initial rating of this book, as well as projecting that Book Hangover emptiness you usually get from finishing a story and knowing that its over.  And while there will be more The Others books in the future, Etched in Bone marks the ending of the Meg story arc, along with all of her friends and companions in Lakeside.

But the truth about this last installment of The Others is a bit more conflicting, because while I still loved it the same way I loved the previous four books, I'm still not entirely sure I know what this last book contributes to the series' story overall.  There are moments that are quite thought-provoking, and I find it a little disappointing that the "life lessons" we learn in this book need to be spelled out in exposition.  Then there are moments that just feel like they're a bit dragged on and repetitive.

Again, a lot of events happen in this last book, and new players are introduced into the story line.  And while the consequences of the events in this book don't seem to be global, in a way they are.

Truth:  Aside from the fact that I enjoyed reading this, there's little else I can think of to say that is entirely positive.  Everything I love about this series is, once again, present in full force, between the amusing character interactions, to the strangely endearing personalities of the characters themselves.  This series is definitely a character driven story, and it stays true to tune in this last installment.

Unfortunately, the same quibbles and faults that I've always overlooked from the previous four books are also still present.  Basically, within this book, there is little to no character development, as usual.  And while there's a very distinct conflict going on, the events of the book also still feel kind of banal, and mundane... as banal and mundane as living in a courtyard of flesh-eating shifters can get.

In the same vein, I also find the romantic development between Simon and Meg a bit dissatisfying considering how many books have gone by stretching out this slow, slow burn of a relationship for so long.  It's not like we absolutely need romance in a story, and I understand and appreciate the consideration we give for Meg's tragic back story that makes it hard for her to move into a romantic relationship readily.  But the intimacy between Simon and Meg has been teasing us since book one, and with the way that others' relationships are so open and talked about, with the way that sex is so readily mentioned, I found the continued chasteness of the Simon and Meg love story a little bit frustrating.

Anyway, there were a few other things about this book that I found a little dissatisfying, even if not enough to make me dislike the book.  Once again, sometimes biases are pretty strong feelings--once you love a particular story, it's really easy to overlook faults, y'know.

There was a very repetitive description of the Elders, wherein their presence is manifested as a very odd, cold silence.  I think that it's a great way to describe that spine-tingling feeling you get about something fear-inducing, but I also think that this was used one time too many throughout the book.

Finally, I would have loved to explore a lot of the other characters in this book, old and new.  I would have loved to see more about Hope in Sweetwater--maybe this can be a novella or another story arc in the future?  I would have loved to learn more about a lot of the other newly introduced characters such as the vet-in-training who was sent to help resettle the broken village of Bennett, Barb Ellen Debany.  I would have loved to learn more about the new female police deputy who got sent to Bennett.  In fact, can we just have a whole new story arc about the characters in Bennett, in Sweetwater, and maybe even the little heard about town of Tallulah Falls?

There are just so many characters and so many story possibilities in this world of The Others, that despite my despair that I have to wait another year for the next book, I'm actually kind of happy that there will be more books at all.

Overall, The Others might not be a series for everyone, and to be honest, I don't even know how it ended up being one I ended up loving.  There is just so much about this series that I would have never been able to tolerate in another series.

So there you have it:  Another useless random babbling of thoughts that pretty much just showcases how biased towards this series I am.

On that note:


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