Tuesday, August 5, 2014
The Dresden Readthrough: Changes
We continue our readthrough of Jim Butcher's uber-popular urban fantasy series The Dresden Files today with book twelve, Changes. The continuing plan is to do a book a month on the first Tuesday of each month, and with 16 books on the publication schedule between now and when our readthrough is over, our reading list should be pretty full for the foreseeable future. For those reading along, we are going via publication order, so our next entry will be the short story collection Side Jobs.
As for Changes, some mixed reviews had me wary on this, but outside of a pretty deliberate curveball, this ended up really restoring my faith in the series.
The story begins with a pretty much out-of-nowhere plot development that Dresden has a daughter. Okay. Sure. Weirder things happen, I guess, so why not just run with the story. The daughter, however, is a MacGuffin of sorts to drive us to what's essentially an ultimate goal of a conspiracy to eliminate Dresden and his line from the universe entirely. Where we go from there is very typical Dresden adventure, complete with a final quarter of the book that is both exciting and fast-paced as any other in the series.
It's becoming easier to be critical of these books now that we're 12 in, but even the choices made here, especially with the daughter, do not seem to be done for story purposes as much as to provide an excuse to do things. The good news is that this story in particular does wrap up a lot of the loose ends I was complaining about when looking at the previous book, which was a happy surprise. Plus, the sense of danger is alive and well, and perhaps not the way I had considered (not to give anything away to those who might not be twelve books in). Even when this book is ultimately about 30-40 pages too long, it's not dragged down from start to finish with that problem, a testament to the overall storytelling involved.
Really, with this book, there's just a "what's next" element that hasn't existed in some time. We get some hints of what Dresden can do that we didn't before, and the door is wide, wide open now in a way that it wasn't before. I'm still frustrated by some of those choices, but it's more than made up for by the continued quality of what we're seeing. While I know we're reading the short story collection next, I'm probably more invested in the overall story now than I have been for a few volumes now.