Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Dresden Readthrough: Side Jobs

We continue our readthrough of Jim Butcher's uber-popular urban fantasy series The Dresden Files today with book twelve-and-change, Side Jobs. 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 follow-up to Changes, Ghost Story.

As for Side Jobs, the tales within are about as mixed as you'd expect a short story collection of odds and sods to be.

It should be prefaced that the collection has a singular purpose of getting the shorter in-universe stuff published, plain and simple. So when the first story is described by Butcher as a bit rough, he's not kidding. It also allows Butcher to play around in the universe a bit, such as with stories from the perspective of the vampire Thomas and from Karrin herself (my personal favorite story in the book). It doesn't take itself terribly seriously, and that's a good thing.

The downside to the collection is that some of it, well, isn't great. The first story in particular is really tough to read, especially coming at it 12 books in when you've gotten used to a specific, more professional style from Butcher. Not all the stories work - the love spell one fell flat for me, the very short one toward the beginning, "Vignette," didn't really work for me, and a number of them are just flat-out unmemorable. There's one story in particular that really rubbed me the wrong way with the sexualization of Molly, and it really took me out of things. I don't know why, but I didn't expect it and really didn't like it.

As a whole, though? Not bad. Not great, but it has its moments, and you can really truly say that about any group of short stories that are out there. It's a solid collection in a universe I'm already really enjoying, so that's ultimately all that matters in the end.

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