Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review | Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot (UK title Rivers of London)
Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London #1
Published 2011 by DelRay (Random House)
Urban fantasy
2 stars

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Bite-Sized Review
Despite a promising start, this book trudged through an unspectacular plot. I thought it had enough potential that I'll probably try the next book, but I won't get my hopes up.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-The world-building was good. I liked the difficulty Peter experienced learning magic, and the fact that most people liked to pretend the tiny division of the police devoted to the supernatural didn't exist. I especially enjoyed the personalities of London's rivers.

-Geeky references are always a plus. I caught Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, among other things. I am automatically inclined to like anyone who also likes those things, so that definitely put me in a good mood. Peter Grant was a likable sort of character.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
Full disclosure: I finished this book sometime around hour 11 of a 13 hour flight. I hate being stuck in one spot for more than an hour or so, and I don't sleep on planes, so at that point I was extremely uncomfortable as well as sleep-deprived, and therefore ready to murder anyone who looked at me sideways. Basically what I'm saying is: I wasn't a huge fan of the book, but while I don't think my situation at the time of reading was the total cause for my dislike -- I finished Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, which I loved, on the same plane ride -- it probably contributed.

-First, the whole plot lacked urgency until you already knew everything anyway. Peter displayed amazingly little concern for a series of murders, and seemed to dedicate very little devotion for any of the things he was supposed to be doing.

-Along with the lacking urgency, the whole story just seemed slow. Months passed without much of anything happening, just Peter learning magic and maybe a murder or two, about which, as I said, nobody really did anything. I was reading on my Kindle so I can't say for sure, but the book seemed a lot longer than the 298 pages Goodreads says it has.

-I did not find Midnight Riot anywhere near as funny as other reviewers seem to think it was. It had its moments, sure, but "funny" is by no means even in the first ten adjectives that come to mind when I think of this book. And before you say "Oh, you just don't get British humor," don't. I like British TV much, much better than American TV. I just don't think this book was that funny.

Recommended for
A lot of people have compared Rivers of London to the Dresden Files, but I think it's actually closer to Simon R. Green's Nightside series. I will grant that both of those series started a bit slow themselves, so maybe Midnight Riot is just going along with the trend.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love your comments! I try to respond to them...eventually!

This is now an award-free blog. I love and totally appreciate that you thought of me, but I know myself better than to think I would be organized enough to pass them along, and that doesn't seem fair.

Finally, if you're posting a URL, the code to make it actually link to your site is <.a href="your URL">your text<./a>, without the periods.