Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Woman In the Mirror by Cathryn Grant


Rating: WARTY!

Note that this was an advance review copy from Net Galley, for which I thank the publisher.

I'm not sure I agree with the blurb's premise that "Everyone knows someone who deserves to die." I personally don't, although I would argue that there are asses which need kicking from time to time! I won't hold it against the author, because unless they self-publish, authors have little to do with the blurb or the cover. That's why on my blog I talk very little about covers, and I don't even show them any more in the reviews. It's the plot and the story-telling that's the only important part of a book. Covers are window-dressing at best, and honestly irrelevant unless you're not really a serious reader.

While vigilante "justice" is clearly wrong-headed in reality, it does make for some interesting stories, which is why the last sentence of the blurb intrigued me: "Alexandra Mallory isn't like other women - she gets rid of people who make the world a dangerous place." I was far less curious to know exactly how she dealt with her dangerous people than in how she determined who they were and which ones deserved dispatching. The problem I had was that this novel seemed far more interested in diverting into endless, tedious flashbacks and info-dumping histories than ever it was in propelling the story forward. It lost my interest short-order, and I gave up on this without finishing it, so keep that in mind with regard to this review.

That wasn't the only problem. I shall lightly step-over the fact that this title (girl/woman in mirror) is way over-used, and move on to the voice I most detest in story-telling: first person. Countless authors seem obsessively-compulsively addicted to it even when it harms their story. One of the many major problems with 1PoV is that it severely limits the ability to tell a good story, and this author admits this after the very first chapter by abruptly vaulting from first to third, which would be impressive were this a baseball game; not so much in literature, though. The story bounces back and forth between perspectives, but the second chapter is from the guy's perspective, and for some reason the author deems him unworthy of 1PoV! He merits only third place. Why, I don't know, but it seemed genderist at best. I mention that particular aspect because the guy has a decidedly warped perspective on the worth and valuation of women, and telling it in third person made it even worse than if it had been delivered in first.

His first take on Alexandra, the protagonist, is all about her "beauty" and physical qualities. Clearly if you've just encountered someone, the only knowledge you have of them is how they appear, but Jared's super power is quite evidently sex-ray vision: he can see only skin deep and immediately objectifies Alex without a second thought. I find it obnoxious that so many authors, especially female ones, are so addicted to this approach to describing their female characters. I mean, you can say a guy found a woman attractive without belaboring physical attributes to excess, and risking making other women feel like crap if they don't measure-up, just as you can describe a male character without making guys feel inadequate. Frankly, I wanted to ditch this novel right there, and never pick it up again, it was so shallow, but this was at about 2% in, and I felt compelled, against my better judgment, to press on at least a little further. It wasn't a charmed plan, as I discovered when it became bogged-down in flashbacks.

Alex is thrown together with professional liar Noreen, and "studly" Jared (see? That's how it's done! LOL!), all three living under one roof when Noreen sublets her rather precarious cliff-top house to them. It seemed pretty obvious where this was going, and it was all downhill from the top of the cliff. This was the beginning of yet another series, and I am rarely a fan of series. They tend to be repetitive, lazy, derivative, and unimaginative. I can't get on board with this one, which was far too wordy for my taste when the words conveyed so little and did nothing to move the story along. I wish the author all the best with her series, but I cannot recommend this based on what I read of it, which was more than I honestly wanted to.


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