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Author Topic: Last Call - Week Two  (Read 1650 times)

Offline Idlewilder

Last Call - Week Two
« on: June 08, 2015, 08:46:11 AM »
The book kept up the frantic pace this week as Scott, Ozzie and Mavranos made their way to Las Vegas to find Diana. Lots of weirdness happening now that they're together, and LOTS of weird side characters.

It seems Georges Leon moves between bodies he's commandeered over the years and when he isn't in them he leaves them with the barest whiff of his memories and...not much else. Like husks. I enjoyed the scene where he was Betsy Reculver one minute and Art (?) the next, phoning Trumbill out of nowhere.

We met Diana properly. I like her, she seems like she might make for an interesting counterpoint to Scott and even arguably is the main character now that the narrative has shifted...

...and we come to the shooting of her young son, Scat. What did we think? I thought it was chaotic and well written - Powers has set up the randomness of events, and the likelihood of people around Scott dying or getting hurt, so the bullet hitting Scat - almost against the law of physics I think! - actually made sense, and it makes the dynamic between Scott and Diana interesting going forward.

Final two things: what did you all think of the very oddball maps guy that kidnapped Scat? (name escapes me...)

And what are thoughts on Al Fumo? A serial killer who is also a contract killer on the side. Reminds me of a character from the recent TV series of Fargo, for anyone who's seen it.
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Offline Arry

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Re: Last Call - Week Two
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2015, 07:21:10 PM »
Lots of weirdness happening now that they're together, and LOTS of weird side characters.
And this is what keeps me from loving the book as much as I hoped I would. It's straddling my weird threshold.

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It seems Georges Leon moves between bodies he's commandeered over the years and when he isn't in them he leaves them with the barest whiff of his memories and...not much else.
IT is an interesting dynamic. It's also a bit like this entire book is a human based card game, where the stakes are life and death.

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We met Diana properly. I like her, she seems like she might make for an interesting counterpoint to Scott and even arguably is the main character now that the narrative has shifted...
I like her. But I did think her marrying out of spite because she thought her and Scott were supposed to be together was a bit strange.

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...and we come to the shooting of her young son, Scat. What did we think? I thought it was chaotic and well written - Powers has set up the randomness of events, and the likelihood of people around Scott dying or getting hurt, so the bullet hitting Scat - almost against the law of physics I think! - actually made sense, and it makes the dynamic between Scott and Diana interesting going forward.
Agreed. It made sense and fits with how everything else is going (to shit ;) )
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Offline D_Bates

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Re: Last Call - Week Two
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2015, 11:52:51 AM »
I'm a tad bit behind as I've been without internet for a bit while on holiday.

So where to begin.

Well, I agree with Arry that the weirdness is getting a bit much for me. Weird is good when it's plot relevant, but weird for the sake of weird... I guess it's something you either like or hate. I laughed back in the first quarter when Trumbill ate the leaves. But when he ate the catfish I was a bit, meh. This just felt stupid and had no real relevance to the plot, and I find that sort of shit distracting in the grander scheme.

I love the detailed description of the surrounding Vegas landscape, but I'm not too keen on the gory detail put into the streets. Sometimes it feels a bit much to be going pages on pages of roads and buildings that have no real point to the story but for the kick if you know the area, and I definitely get the hint that Powers either grew up, lives, or frequents the Vegas area. I guess it's something somebody who knows the place will get a real kick out of, but it doesn't really hold up to time or readers from outside the location.

Overall, I think the greater plot is fantastic. I get a real sense that the characters are becoming the cards for a greater game, and am getting no ends of joy trying to figure out who is what card and why. I could easily see that Snayfever or whatever his name was as a joker. I'm guessing the evil gang are more the spades, while the family crew have become the hearts. It's all really clever.

I also thought the culminating shooting climax was really well done. I get a real kick out of plot elements drawing together, and this was fantastic. One thing I can't fault Powers on is his ability to create lots of little pieces of the plot and then slot them together to make a jigsaw. Though the action in those final scenes are still bugging me, I did get a huge sense of anticipation and excitement as the gang showdowned with the crazy dude in his shack.

The thing that's majorly letting it down for me right now are the characters. While the whole card element of the plot is fantastic, the backdrop of ancient gods and celestial deities... not so much. It feels like the characters are more or less slaves to fate, and as slaves, I'm finding it really hard to like them. I still find Scott horrible. I can't relate to him as a hero, because he's more or less a tag along. He's sitting in the side car fawning over Diana, Mavranos is driving, and Ozzie's doing the big gambling scenes and calling the shots.
The story is so heavily pushing that he wants to find Diana to protect her, yet his underlying motivations all point to him wanting to get together with her as her partner. Heck, he jumps to be the hero and save Scat, yet this came across to me more as him wanting to prove himself a better man over her husband Hans than any serious care for her son's safety--and that's not hard to do, seeing as Hans is portrayed as the most unlikeable guy going.
The only thing I really like about him is the alcoholism aspect. The whole internal monologue of him questioning himself and fighting his urge to drink is really well done.

Diana... I'm really curious to know how female readers feel about her, because to me she seems God awful. I find this woman completely unlikeable and the whole relationship between her and Scott forced and weird. I was wrong last week when I thought her to be the unnamed waitress, but that just means Scott was having a psychic premonition of her on the phone and getting a boner from it.
Her first major scene came across as really poor when she's moaning about her husbands while thinking of Scott as the man she imagined marrying. Um... This is a guy who ran out on you while you were 9 to make money for himself.
She complains that her current husband can't handle a real woman, that he sees them as playboy centrefolds who are there to look at and nothing more, yet she's described as the blonde haired pretty featured cliche of that exact stereotype.
Through psychic links I'm given to understand that she's experienced Scott's sexlife with his wife, Susan, enough so that she classifies the woman a slut, yet it takes two to tango. He's 47 with no kids of his own, an accident you think? He has an alcohol problem, and his (and her) life are more or less ruined due to his obsessive gambling problems. While the story heavily pushes that he knifed his leg to contact her to protect her, the reality is that he did it as much to ask Ozzie for help. Is this really a guy any girl can imagine as father of the year material compared to her former/current unloving companion?
Hans rang her within 15 minutes of her son not returning home and she dogs on him. Scott more or less leads danger straight to her door and she's sitting in the wayside hoping that he'll murder the kidnapper of her child and then come down and murder the random stranger she knows nothing about that's come up to her as well.
I dunno, she's just not clicking with me.

Ozzie seems to have taken a bit of a back seat which makes me sad, while Mavranos is a world of contradiction. I'm half wondering if he's a bad guy in disguise. He pertains to be Scott's friend, yet assist him in stabbing his leg at his home. He knows the risk of Scott drinking, is even smart enough to question the alcoholism as being a problem, yet as his friend, sees no problem with chugging beer after beer in front of him... while he's driving no less! I dunno. I started off loving Mavranos, but his stock has really dropped in recent chapters.

In answer to Idlewilder's query, I didn't really mind Snayheever and thought he was somewhat interesting. So far I think his story has been well done, though I did sigh some when Scott just left him tied up after the climax.

Al Funo on the other hand... I started off loving, but now loathe, simply because I don't really know what the fuck his motivations are. When we first saw him, he shoots at Scott while driving as though he's trying to kill him. I thought he was a hitman hired by Leons side. But when he finally catches up to them, he calls them in to the bad guys as though he was just picking them up because he heard on the grapevine they wanted them. So I guess now he's a bounty hunter out to make some cash. Cool...
Except that when he's having the meeting, he inexplicably just hits on Reculver before storming out in a huff after she rejects him.
Okay... So now he's pissed off. I guess he's just going to go and murder Scott and co. as revenge?
No! He instead follows them to catch up to Diana... for what purpose? And when he has Diana alone on the roadside he now hits on her for no real reason at all, and when she also rejects him he once again just storms off, only to return 5 minutes later right on cue to shoot her son Scat.
While I loved the showdown in the shack, I found the ending completely random for the sake of moving the plot onward and it did nothing for me. Funo, for a guy constantly claiming he wants people to take him seriously, gives me a really hard time doing so because I don't really know what his motivations are. So yea, not that impressed here.

A guy who I do like is Trumbill. I dunno, I just find the whole loyal goon really interesting. Random eating habits aside, he's going around, doing his job for his own getting along in life, not getting caught up in all this hocus pocus bullshit. I think that's refreshing.

I also got a bit of a kick learning that Ricky Leroy is Richard. I'm glad he was brought back, though I did think it was a bit of a con that the guy was portrayed so heavily as an hispanic man that it was near impossible to make the link at the time. Really curious to see how his arc transpires later on.

Georges Leon, unfortunately, went down in my books. I have to say that I found it hugely deflating to learn that Leon was just one in a line of shells that whoever this old possessing god wannabe is was using. The jumping between bodies is interesting, but I think it would have been better had Leon been the first. I guess there's a potential for him to make a heroic gesture in the end and sacrifice himself for his son, but yea, I feel that reducing Leon to a shell and making the villain someone unrelated to any of the characters doesn't do the intricate plot justice.

Finally, Max and his sister. Yay, another incest relationship based on fate rather than feelings. At least these guys (or girl at least) is fighting it. Weirdly enough, I find these two way more interesting than Scott and Diana, even though they've had really little page time. Still, I do feel that they're whole inclusion is maybe a few characters too much. I've never been a fan of mass character head-hopping, and the constant jumping is really taking away from the reading experience for me here. These two feel like just a few characters too much. I'd have rather their personalities had been injected into Scott and Diana, but at least for the time being I do have an air of curiosity over what happens next for them.

Anyway, battery is dying, so I'll leave the essay there for the time being!
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 07:42:49 PM by D_Bates »
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Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018