Little Brown and Company
Where’d You Go Bernadette is a book that has been on my to-read list for over two years. Now, having finally found time to read it, I deeply regret not bumping it to the top of the list much sooner.
Where’d You Go Bernadette is a very funny easy to read novel about a strange woman named Bernadette. Her story unfolds in a very unique style. It’s completely composed of letters, faxes, police reports, hospital bills etc. All of which gave the novel a very interactive feel. Maria Semple used to write for shows like Mad About You and Arrested Development and similar humour shines through in her novel writing. More than once this book had me giggling in public. Particularly Bernadette’s repeated run-ins with more neurotic parents at her daughter’s school.
But it wasn’t just comedy. It explored anxiety and depression in a way that felt very real and honest. For example:
“I can feel the irrationality and anxiety draining my store of energy like a battery operated race car grinding away in the corner. This is the energy I will need to get through the next day. But I just lie in bed and watch it burn, and with it any hope for a productive tomorrow. There go the dishes, there goes the grocery store, there goes exercise, there goes bringing in the garbage cans. There goes basic human kindness.”
Bernadette has had her dreams crushed. She was an architect and she suffered a number of setbacks before retreating with her family to Seattle. She feels like she’s failed at life in more ways than one and that’s a struggle a lot of readers will be able to relate to. While Bernadette may have been quirky and unconventional I was quickly drawn to her character and though her adventures made me laugh, this book was so much more than just humour.
So another Immortals After Dark book where we get all the hot interspecies porn we can handle, along with a heaping side helping of more messed-up relationship dynamics. Vrekeners are winged demonic angels who enforce laws in the Lore or supernatural world, while Sorceri are magic users and known hedonists who have one root power equivalent to a soul. The two species are enemies, and up until now the Vrekeners have been largely hinted at in the series, but not featured.
I was a little unsure when I saw the book features Melanthe the Sorceri, as she’s never been one of my favorite characters, but this book changed that. She is awesome. She has fears and seems kind of flighty, but Melanthe owns her sexuality and is quite intelligent behind that extensive knowledge of pop culture. Her powers are unstable, but as she gains confidence, Melanthe becomes quite powerful. She has more character growth than anyone in the series.
Thronos the Vrekener, on the other hand, is a winged one-dimensional bundle of repressed rage and lust. In Cole’s eagerness to drive home how very physically and mentally scarred he is, she forgot to give us any reason to like him. While he was nice enough as a boy, he saw Melanthe for the first time, recognized her as his fated mate, and immediately began treating her as an object. Melanthe was hungry, and rather than inquiring into her food preferences, he dumps a bloody animal at the vegetarian sorceri’s feet.
It was gratifying to finally read the story behind Melanthe and Thronos’s long antagonism, and the cycle of plane-hopping was really fun, but the thread binding the two main characters together was a bit weak. Thronos comes around a bit in the end, but he spends most of the book as a lust monster without any personality. He actually hates and wants to hurt Melanthe at first, and the violent impulses he had made me a bit uncomfortable while reading this. Whereas in Lothaire Cole sold a evil vampire as a valid romantic choice, here Thronos seemed like someone who needed to spend some time working on themselves, so to speak.
The action in this book was better than the average in the series, and I loved the side-chapters revealing more about Nix and her quest to become a goddess. The mysterious Vrekeners turned out better than I expected, and Nereus was really trippy. The ending was a bit rushed, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the Vrekeners settle into their new home.