Friday, August 14, 2009

Small addictions and The Society of S

After finishing Acheron and realizing just how much I've been missing by not having audio books in my life, I'm officially addicted. Of course, every addiction has that financial constraint and, seeing as how I am not yet a New York Times Bestseller, I certainly don't have the cash to feed the need for forty dollar audio books.

However, I do happen to have a library card and a rather sad excuse for a library not too far away from my humble abode by the quarry. After some investigating I came away with The Society of S. I was so very excited for this book because it was a vampire book and promised to have a new and exciting twist on modern vampires. I was not all that impressed.

First of all: The voice actress, Joyce Bean, was very boring. This may or may not have been on purpose. I think the main character, Ariella Montero, is sort of lack-luster herself and perhaps Bean was reflecting that. I just thought she read too fast and lacked the tone and inflection an audio book reader should have, especially for a pre-teen young woman (even if she is a cloistered little thing). It is (perhaps) Bean's fault that I thought the book was kinda 'eh'. You do run the risk of the voice actor completely dropping the characters when you listen to audio books.

I can't say specifically what about The Society of S I didn't like. But let me try and break it down to the little things that bugged me most.

For one, I didn't like Ariella addressing the reader. She'd say something like: "For me, the letter 'S' is blue. Is it that way for you too?" Can't stand that. I feel like it completely derails the plot. On top of that, I despised the journal entry wrap-up at the end. "My life continues to suck, I'm confused about everything, my parent's still aren't together, and I'm a vampire. Oh, and I'm writing all this down so that perhaps someone who gives a shit about vampires can make something of it." Really???

Two: It was too much the coming of age story and none of the conflicts that bring Ariella into her ultimate self get resolved. I think it was the lack of conflict resolution that got me feeling sour about this book. There wasn't really a climax and there wasn't really a solution. The book moves from good to bad to uncertain with all the uncertainties and conflicts having been stacked up inside the book and poorly addressed. I don't want to sound condemning. Although, I'm sure I have. Hubbard does a good job of building the world and the characters and the conflicts and then she does nothing with them. It's like following someone around all day long with the expectation that something amazing is going to happen and then you find that, at the end of the day, nothing happens at all. I followed Ari throughout the book, expecting something half-way interesting to happen to her (because Hubbard keeps stacking the boxes higher and higher and something has got to fall one of these days), but nothing does and I ended the book feeling really disappointed.

I think that if Hubbard wanted to leave open her options for expanding on Ariella and her situation, then she should have concluded on a more suspenseful note. At least in that manner the reader would be more enthusiastic about picking up another of Hubbard's books. The general feeling at the end of the book was: life's a bitch and then you die. That didn't make me feel really excited to read the next book, if there is one. Quite obviously, I haven't looked. Because I wasn't convinced enough by the first book that this character and her problems are worth my continued interest.

Overall, I give The Society of S three out of five stars. There was some interesting world and character building on Hubbard's part. The pacing and structure were good. The building of suspense and possible conflict were enough to keep me listening to Joyce Bean, but it lacked climax and resolution which ultimately made me loose interest in following the character or the author.

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