There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
I first heard about The Shambling Guide to New York City from this io9 article. I read the first section (above the spoilers) and looked at the cover image and decided that I really, really wanted to read it.
I mean, it’s about an ordinary travel writer who stumbles upon the supernatural world and, instead of freaking out, writes a supernatural-friendly travel guide. It sounded AWESOME.
What I Liked:
First of all, look at how brilliant the cover is! The art is by Jamie McKelvie, amazing artist and all-round good egg. If you like it, I’d recommend checking out his tumblr and also the new(er) run of Young Avengers.
The premise of this story was brilliant and I loved the heroine, Zoe. She was refreshingly normal and easy to relate to, a stand-in for the reader, especially muddled inside all that supernaturalness. It was fun to read about her reactions to the world she had uncovered.
The writing style was good and I particularly enjoyed the sections from the travel guide that appeared at the beginning of some of the chapters.
What I Didn’t Like:
The book seems to lose track of what it’s trying to be somewhere along the way and turns into a story about having to save New York City (and the world). I actually felt that I preferred the story as it originally began. I didn’t need Zoe to develop powers or save the world for her to be interesting.
The foreshadowing is also a little heavy-handed and the plot does become a bit confused towards the end. I did have a “wait, what just happened?” moment at one point, where I had to reread a section to understand what was going on.
I have very, very mixed feelings about this book. I think I enjoyed the idea of it more than I enjoyed the actual story. I think if the book had actually been what I thought it was going to be, I would have liked it a lot more.
That said, I really did like Zoe and I enjoyed the world building and plot of the first 3/4 of the story. I don’t know, guys, I’m so torn on whether I want to read book 2 or not. Ghost Train to New Orleans also has a great cover and a great premise and maybe the author will relax into the series a bit more. I am a little worried, though, that having already saved the world, the stakes will have to be raised in the next book.
I’ll let you know if I do read book 2 so watch this space.