Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Book Report: Storm Front

The house is still clean. Go me! This is a whole week now.

Now, for the book report. I always seem to be late to the game on the popular series. I didn't even buy the first Harry Potter book until after the fourth one was published. I only got into Terry Pratchett last year. So now I'm finally getting into Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series. On the bright side, when you're late to the game, you don't have to wait months or even years between books. You can just inhale them all at once. But then that tends to leave you even more impatient for the next one after you've caught up because you're used to being able to read them one after another (kind of like getting into a TV series on DVD and being able to marathon a season in a couple of days, and then getting very frustrated when the next season comes along and you have to wait a week for each episode). I guess it's a double-edged sword.

I even came to this series in a backward way. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard much of it until I met Jim at FenCon last year. I had an autographing session at the same time as him, and when I wasn't busy working up my courage to actually speak to Alan Dean Foster, I eavesdropped on Jim's conversations with his fans as he discussed his books and why he wasn't too upset with the changes they were having to make in translating the series to television. That afternoon, I moderated a panel about writing a series with both Alan and Jim, and I think I became prejudiced toward liking the Harry Dresden books when Jim called me pretty (what can I say, I'm easy). I ended up more or less interviewing him about the translation to TV series, and I was intrigued by the idea behind his series. But if I know a movie or TV show based on a book is coming out, I always wait to read the book until after I've seen the film or TV show because I'm almost always disappointed in the film version if I've read the book, but if I've seen the film and then read the book, I enjoy the film and then like the book even more. Win-win-win.

So, I liked the TV series and picked up the first book, Storm Front. Now I'm totally in love. Harry Dresden is my new literary crush. I'm a big sucker for a noble, gallant, self-sacrificing guy with a sense of humor. This is going to sound like an odd comparison, but I described it to Mom as like a Dick Francis book without the horses and with the main character having magical powers. The structure is very much like a Dick Francis mystery, with the hero reluctantly getting involved in the case because he can't help but come to the aid of someone who needs him, and then he gets in almost over his head on the way to the conclusion. The hero has some special skill that helps out, but he's no superman. He's all too human, which means he gets knocked around a bit, but he keeps trying. He's a little old fashioned and very gallant. And after reading one of these books, you get in the mood to read more like it. Nothing else will really satisfy you for a while.

Ironically, the former pilot episode that was (very loosely) based on the first book in the series aired the day after I finished reading the book, so I sort of broke my own rule, after all. The episode was different enough from the book that I didn't catch myself constantly comparing the two. I think tomorrow I will have to drop by the bookstore and pick up the next book. I'll need airplane reading material next week.

You know, I could totally see Harry Dresden and Owen hanging out. They'd have a lot to talk about. I would say that they should go out for a beer, but that might be a bad idea. Owen is kind of a silly drunk (as you'll see soon enough), and it doesn't take much to get him that way.

I'll be at yet another conference with Jim next month, so now I can play fangirl, too, and since I knew him before reading the books, I might not be too intimidated to actually talk to him.

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