I had a hard time with this book. I wanted to like it. I really tried to. And I do, a little… but only a little.
The premise is pure silly fun: Lila, a bionic spygirl, is assigned to bodyguard Zal, an elf rock star. (Think The Bionic Woman, War for the Oaks, and the first chapter of Snow Crash, all thrown into a blender.) He’s been getting threats that seem to have something to do with the precarious diplomatic situation between our world and the elves. They merit the attention of Lila’s employers, anyway, and she grudgingly goes to work on her first solo assignment. Turns out she had to have half her body replaced after her last encounter with elves, so she’s not exactly keen on protecting one of them. But Zal is pretty abnormal, for an elf. His eyes are the wrong color, and he has some demon qualities. Also, elves are not known for rocking out. So he and Lila bicker while throwing each other come-hither looks, and she rescues him from several nasty situations (allowing Zal, and us, to see all the cool toys embedded in her artificial limbs), and hijinks ensue. This is all good fun. The plot twists nicely, with some unexpected reversals, and there’s no question the book is packed with nifty ideas.
The problem is, I kept tripping over the language. There were a slew of minor mechanical problems. For one thing, though the characters apparently live in the US, they all use British slang. Granted, regional dialects are starting to overlap as people spend more time online, but these characters don’t speak like Americans who’ve picked up a few choice turns of phrase; they speak like Englishmen who’ve been dropped into a California setting. The spelling is British throughout, but the punctuation’s Americanized (badly, in one instance). There are sentence fragments everywhere — the kind of thing I’d use very sparingly turns up two and three times per page. And then there are the commas, or rather the lack of them. Every third sentence felt like a run-on, because all the clauses you’d normally set off with commas were just strung together, naked.
Individually, I could have overlooked any one of those nitpicky little things, but collectively they turned my mental narration into a choppy mess, by turns breathless and halting. It drove me nuts. I nearly threw the book down after the second chapter, but I pressed on. By the end, though, all the cool ideas weren’t enough to overcome my sheer irritation with the language. I’ll check out one of the author’s more serious books — after all, it’s possible that most of my nitpicks were copyeditor-induced — but I’m going to pass on the rest of this series, no matter how cool the covers are.
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