Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review of "The Pain Merchants" (aka "The Shifter") and other random things

1. Do you want to know one of my pet peeves? The "one word" trend of YA book titles. Take the title "The Witch Hunter's Bible" -- when I first heard of Michelle Krys' book, I got really excited. Did I know what it was about? No. But that is a fucking cool title, and it made me want to read the book.

However, when the book comes out, it won't be "The Witch Hunter's Bible." It's going to be Hexed. Hexed. "Hexed" is generic, forgettable, and unless it's a best-seller, you'll probably have a hard time finding it with a simple google search. I have no interest in reading a book called "Hexed." Granted, I still haven't gotten around to reading the summary, but right now, it's hard to imagine anything cool and original with such a boring title.

2. One of the books that suffers from this horrible trend  is The Shifter, by Janice Hardy. It wasn't always The Shifter. It used to be The Pain Merchants -- which is an awesome title that piques your curiosity. As in, how exactly can one be a merchant of pain? Well, I guess I'll find out if I read this book. (Though this is a middle grade book, and I guess "The Pain Merchants" isn't a very kid-friendly title.)

In the UK, this book still has its original title. So I bought that version. (Because fuck yeah, pain merchants!)

I don't read a lot of middle grade, so The Pain Merchants was a bit of an adjustment in some ways. (The style was more direct than I'm used to, and I would have liked the socio-political stuff to be a bit more complex.) But otherwise, I enjoyed this book. The plot was fun, and the characters likeable, though I would have liked to see more distinctive personalities.

But this book's real strength is the way it handles moral ambiguity. Nya is constantly questioning the decisions and sacrifices she makes, and there's just enough introspection that it's effective without being overbearing. I liked it enough to pick up the sequel, and I would gladly give this book to my niece.

3. I mentioned "other random things" in the title, so here is another random thing: Today, someone on Twitter (not someone I follow, but a re-tweet) said she was looking for New Adult books with witches. So I recommended a couple witch-like titles. Then I looked at the other responses and realized that she wasn't just a random person looking for book recommendations. She was an editor calling for submissions! *headdesk*

Moral of the story, don't tweet unless you know who's the person at the other end.

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