My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The more I read of this series, the more I struggle to keep the intrigues and characters’ relationships (hell, even just the characters) straight. It doesn’t get easier – it’s just more disconnected vague allusions to a bunch of small-town politics and melodramas, and I’m realizing that the base premise of this series is just a false promise.
I don’t think Seeley and Norton are doing a horror book or a supernatural thing – I think they’re just stringing up a set of zombie lights to illuminate the ongoing tales of a bunch of people with varying shades of grey cast on their souls, meandering through their varying weirdnesses and minor misadventures. Being weird and unpredictable because they can, or because it’s “dramatic”.
I think this is why I tired of Seeley’s other big series, Hack/Slash. It became less an exploration of horror tropes for me, and more a confusing winding tale of the earnest yearnings and stupid moves of a bunch of secondary characters.
Secondary characters are alright when they’re well-designed and have a clear set of personality layers – like that ancient show Picket Fences – but when it starts to feel like they’re serving more as filler to stretch the thin story, I get exhausted of bothering to keep up.
This feels like Seeley could use a refresher of Mamet’s rules of scripting. Half the time, what his characters are saying or doing is irrelevant and not worth following, to the point where I’m finding I’ve zoned out while reading enough that when something later happens I’ve lost track of how the story got there.
When everyone’s got secrets, doesn’t that make secrets kind of a generic commodity? Why should I feel surprised by discovering another dark past moment when everyone is looking over their shoulder?
Maybe if these fuckers could focus on twelve or fewer storylines I’d have a hope of keeping up. As it is I’d be tempted to start an X-Files wall – string and pushpins and newspaper clippings oh my! – if I wasn’t so disinterested in it all. But how can anyone be bothered to give a shit when all we get is a few pages for each new character and then off to the next fragment of discontinuity? Just the very admission of the 52-card pickup plotting that is this story – that they put “The Home Of Frida Shitbird” captions on every new fragment – tells me even Seeley knows how choppy this is, and that he thinks this is *good* writing instead of the product of a fevered relationship with daytime soap operas.
Gave up halfway through. There are much better reading opportunities with creators I haven’t grown tired of.
Speaking of which, is that volume 20 of The Walking Dead on my shelf?