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Author Topic: For those that have finished!  (Read 4593 times)

Offline Arry

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For those that have finished!
« on: September 05, 2012, 05:57:26 PM »
Share your thoughts here :)

If I get a chance to review the end of the book, I may add more specific thoughts later. It's been too long for me to remember specifics. My overall impression was that I really enjoyed the story and look forward to the sequel. There were times I felt the pacing of the book was a little off and I would lose interest/focus. (I mentioned this in an earlier discussion thread). But overall, I did enjoy it.
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Offline perch15

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Re: For those that have finished!
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2012, 06:37:37 PM »
I enjoyed this book from top to bottom.

As I think I said in a prior post, I'm not always a huge fan of the first-person narrative but I thought the Warden's voice and POV really served the story being told.  While I certainly think Polansky could have pulled off the same plot using a third-person POV, the characterization would have suffered for it.  The deftness with which Polansky revealed the bruised and battered--but still beating--heart driving the Warden to act was a thing to behold.  And what wasn't revealed--namely, the full extent of The Warden's past--was handled just as delicately.  I can't recall any sections I would consider to be "info dumps."

The vocabulary of the denizens of Low Town gave the book flavor, and their nicknames for everything ranging from the cops to the geography of the place were as believable as they were entertaining.

The story itself (a not insignificant component to a novel, I dare say...) was the perfect mix of action, inaction and the spaces inbetween.  I think that Polansky managed to combine both the thrill and mundanity of a murder investigation with an environment that was darkly fantastical.  And then he applied a liberal dose of noir just to take the edge off.  Even tried-and-true devices like The Dame and The Kid were used in unique ways that didn't detract from the familiarity of the particular trope.

Did anyone else see the Celia swerve coming?  I certainly felt like something was up from the moment she appeared, and while I didn't necessarily think she was going to be the Big Bad I had her pegged as someone who was making some bad decisions. Her "for the greater good" attitude was appropriately disgusting when presented in context, and her cold manipulation of The Warden (as seen through his eyes) bordered on heartbreaking.

All in all, a great read.  I'm very excited for the next volumes in the series.

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: For those that have finished!
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2012, 11:50:29 PM »
I stated somewhere else that it was an okay book for me. I, though, wouldn't rate it as fantasy over crime. It's completely right to put noir before fantasy in this book's genre because besides from the odd bits of magic and little worldbuilding, which actually helped the fast pacedness, there was no "fantastical" element for me. Still, the pace was great; never a dull moment. I also felt there was no info-dumps. There wasone spot that teetered on the edge, then recovered slightly by using "Anyway, ..." I felt it was a little poor in mending the flow.

I saw the twist. Since I had seen Celia, I knew there was something sinister a-foot. The repitition of the necklace in a book with little details caught my attention. Then, when she made the connection with Brightfellow and the jewelry, I saw the twist. The ending fell a little flat and cut-off. There was little emotion from killing a woman who had been the MC's childhood friend. Death, even by a dehumanized killer, isn't something lenient.

Nomatter this harsh review, the story had its pros. The writing was fabulous. The pacing was amazing. I loved the character, but I wouldn't say he was "the true form of what an anti-hero has to be." Some of the plot felt over-used and unneeded, like some of the fights and talks. But as a person writing in 1st person from a cynical protagonist, this was a great book to read for writing with voice and tone.
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Offline cairi

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Re: For those that have finished!
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2012, 01:37:06 PM »
Did anyone else see the Celia swerve coming?  I certainly felt like something was up from the moment she appeared, and while I didn't necessarily think she was going to be the Big Bad I had her pegged as someone who was making some bad decisions. Her "for the greater good" attitude was appropriately disgusting when presented in context, and her cold manipulation of The Warden (as seen through his eyes) bordered on heartbreaking.

Same here... I wasn't sure about her, but I was kind of hoping for a romance to kindle and it threw me off the trail, so to speak. (Your red herring worked on me, Mr. Polansky!) 

I enjoyed the entire book very much.  I'm looking forward to seeing how Wren develops as a character in the next book, and of course, how Warden himself gets along. He's very intriguing--a good job done with the "thief/criminal with a heart of gold" character type. And I hope too that the elements that make it more "fantasy" come into play a little more strongly next time, though to be honest, I felt like this book had a pretty good balance between the noir and the fantasy. I felt it laid down foundations without letting the story or pace get bogged in details (like several readers, including myself, have mentioned: refreshingly few info-dumps!).

Mr. Polansky's next one is definitely on my "read as soon as I get my mitts on it" list. :)

Offline eclipse

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Re: For those that have finished!
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2018, 09:50:13 AM »
@cupiscent , do you think @Lady Ty would like this book and would it work as a stand-alone?
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Offline cupiscent

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Re: For those that have finished!
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2018, 11:49:05 AM »
@cupiscent , do you think @Lady Ty would like this book and would it work as a stand-alone?

Hmmmm, tricky one! I think as a series, Low Town is great, but a lot of that is because book two is stonkingly great (the best book about war I've ever read, hands down) and book three is really very good. I had many reservations about the first book, so while I think it works as a stand-alone--it is complete, in and of itself--it's by far the least-strong part of the series, for my money.

As to whether @Lady Ty would like it, I'm not sure. Grit itself isn't necessarily a problem, but the way it wears its grit was a bit of a problem for me. It's very, very noir, but while the second book managed to get pathos and meaning and context out of the noir, the first one felt like it was parading its noir, and the unpleasant aspects of the style--including an undertone of racism and misogyny--were a lot more on display. (I felt like that stuff got a lot more explored, with more nuance, in the sequels. There's a difference between "there are race issues in this society" and "oh god, why has the author made these racial choices?" and the first book tiptoed around the latter situation and I always felt like it was about to fall in.) In general, my friends who prefer their books with hope and kindness have not responded well to this book. But Ty, I know you don't mind some kinds of grit.

Reasons to like it: Daniel Polansky can write like nobody's business, and his skill is on display in this series; it's really interested in dissecting the power and privilege imbalances that a city is built on; and it really is an interesting world with a strong, compelling, if anti-hero, main character. Plus, did I mention, the later two books are great! :)

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: For those that have finished!
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2018, 12:54:28 AM »

@cupiscent, thank you for your thoughts and that detailed answer with good pointers at what to expect from  Low Town without spoiling. I had queried Eclipse on GR if Low Town was a standalone, because only the first book has been available on audible for a very long time and no sign of the next two. They do have Those Above and Those Below, so I am more likely to start those first. From what you have written I will be better off waiting to read Low Town as a full series, and will appreciate it better as a whole. After that I will come back and read this whole thread.  :)

You are quite right, I don't mind some grit but often enquire about, hold or avoid a book that is likely to be  harsh throughout, but not from squeamishness. I don't have issues with violence and cruelty as such, it wouldn't be realistic.  But anything noir has to serve an explicit purpose and not just be included constantly for shock effect. My imagination serves me only too well because it all relates back to real life. For example, The Handmaid's Tale was brilliant, while horrendous, and hard to read but worthwhile. The fact that Margaret Atwood recently said everything included was based on actual fact didn't surprise me at all.

I far prefer a writer who has the skill to get the desired effect from an isolated incident or  from implication than from gruesome detail. Also found that once you become a parent any child abuse or cruelty is impossible to read objectively.

Daniel Polansky is high on my favourite writer list now and want to read all his work, so will eventually get to Low Town. Bit sorry you didn't read more of A City Dreaming, I was fascinated and enthralled by it's difference, but also understand why you stopped.

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Offline cupiscent

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Re: For those that have finished!
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2018, 04:06:24 AM »
The quality of writing in Straight Razor Cure was so high that I assumed the less-than-subtle noir overcoat was somehow about making it accessible to an audience, which I can see the reasoning of (the later books are great but benefit from having got the introductory stuff out of the way) but still does a disservice to Polansky's talent.

And the noir of the first book isn't so much grit and grime and grimdark (though there's plenty of that sort of vibe) but the heavy noir leanings of "I'm a hard, lone man who's hard and haunted and hard" and "this dame means trouble" and "you can't trust those slanty-eyed buggers" (and that last sentiment is smoothed out with nuance a lot in the later books; more of a "you can't trust anyone, actually, and in that environment people maintaining their understood communities makes sense but shuts down some opportunities"). It can feel a bit cliche because it is sometimes Making A Point. But the overall product has a lot of significant truths to explore about being human, especially in a modern society that doesn't always value humanity except as a commodity.