Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Mindline by M.C.A. Hogarth

I decided to live-tweet this book as I read it. I expected this would entertain the author (haikujaguar) and myself, and be ignored or perhaps mildly irritating to our mutual friends on Twitter. I did not expect to entertain several of our mutual friends, including making a new one who had the express purpose of reading all my Mindline tweets. In retrospect, this should not surprise me as much: I know full well the joy of sharing a good book and listening to others talk about it. Still, it surprised me. Lagniappe!

Not surprising: live-tweeting the book increased my enjoyment of it. I expect that effect only works because I liked it to start with, though: tweeting about a story I disliked would probably only make me hate it more.

Mindline does have some of the same issues that I noted with Mindtouch: most of the supporting cast feels underdeveloped. Some parts of the setting feel weak or nonsensical (for instance: Jahir is crippled by casual contact -- to the point of passing out if someone bumps into him -- and appears to be typical of his race, which makes one wonder how they ever manage to have sex, much less reproduce). Sometimes the questions that arise are lampshaded, and I suspect Hogarth has explanations for some if not all of them that just don't come out in the story, but whether it's a real disconnect or deliberate coyness, it still grated on me.

This aside, the story had a lot to love. Jahir and Vasiht'h are more adorable than ever, and in very different ways. I enjoyed how Jahir combines the archetypal noble, ageless, self-sacrificing elf with a geeky love for modern science and new things. Vasiht'h is generally the calm, stable center for the pair, but they're not two-dimensional: sometimes things that Jahir shrugs off will strike Vasiht'h deeply, and always in ways that make sense and are consistent with the characters. They are beautifully crafted, and it's delightful to watch them interact.

Mindline has more conflict and tension than the previous novel, to its benefit. I spent four days reading Mindline, which contrasts sharply with the five books I read in the week previous -- so obviously I didn't feel compelled to rip through it. On the other hand, I was always looking forward to reading more of it: I wasn't bored, I was just willing to pace myself. Honestly, this is a relief. Yes, it's fun to get swept up in a book and be desperate to get to the end, but it's also good just to let one wash over you slowly, with enough time to think about what's happening and savor events instead of a driving Need To Know How It Ends Right Now. Also the book's biggest climax comes near the middle, so there's a nice leisurely denouement winding down from that. After a bajillion books that are "here's your climax and we're DONE", this is a profound relief. Seriously, so sick of books that end two pages after the climax. I like crises in my fiction, but it's still great to read a book where the author can come up with interesting things to have the characters do even when they're not in crisis mode.

I will rate this one at an 8.5. Recommended!
Tags: book review, books, reviews

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