Book: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate Series #1)
Author: Gail Carriger
Gail Carriger's Soulless follows heroine Alexia Tarabotti, a part-Italian, literally soulless spinster living in Victorian London, a society in this book that has fully integrated supernatural beings, such as werewolves and vampires. Being soulless, Alexia has the ability to neutralize supernatural powers by mere touch. The story starts out with Alexia accidentally killing a vampire with her parasol, which sets in motion an investigation of conspiracy. In the meantime, Alexia has Lord Maccon to deal with, a handsome werewolf who can cause quite a scandal...
You could say this book is a combination of Pride and Prejudice and Twilight, if Pride and Prejudice had no substance or wit to it. I didn't have high expectations for this book. I went in for a light, fun read; so, my expectations were actually pretty low. Somehow, Soulless failed to surpass my already low expectations. The premise seemed interesting enough, but the book was so poorly executed. This book is way, way too long, and as a result, it's slow and boring. The author was so obviously trying to copy Jane Austen's writing style, but it just didn't work. Her writing style was inconsistent, which distracted from the actual plot. Carriger forgoes a more detailed look at the complicated society she has dreamed up and instead spends over half the novel on Alexia and Lord Maccon's romance, filling pages upon pages with insipid and cliched dialogue. We get it; they have chemistry.
The dialogue and romance was cheesy and boring, and the humor not-so-humorous. The characters were more like caricatures, with none of Carriger's depictions scraping beneath the surface. Each character could be described by a handful of words. This is especially seen in her gross characterization of Lord Akeldama, a flamboyant gossipy vampire who is best friends with Alexia.
The author relies on cringe-worthy tropes: Heroine is convinced she is unnattractive, despite being beautiful and having a great body. She and her love interest (who happens to be a well-sought after, handsome, wild man - well, werewolf, in power) bicker with each other like an old, married couple and assert their dislike for each other, despite being in love with each other. Both heroine and love interest are stubborn and assertive.
Make it stop.
I am not a fan of paranormal romance, but I believe that any book, no matter what genre, should be thoughtfully and carefully written and should say something of value. Soulless is neither well-written nor well-developed enough to contribute anything to its genre. I do not believe Carriger spent enough time developing her characters, plot, or world. Had she done so, the book would have been more concise, less repetitive, and more developed. It could even have been an enjoyable read.
Despite struggling to finish this book, I did learn something about myself while reading it: I have the potential to be very vindictive. This book was painful to read, but I endured it just so I could write this review. I also couldn't help but think this book would be a good way to torture someone, someone I really, really disliked.