Usually, when I go to a library, it's a lot like how I go to a book store - I head straight for the scifi/fantasy and start looking for anything new from authors I recognize. If a title catches my eye where I don't know the author, I'll pull it out, skim the dustcover summary, maybe read a few pages before (usually) ultimately deciding that this book is Not For Me.
I've stuck to things I know the past few years, which is maybe not the best thing to do. For awhile there I had trouble concentrating on reading small print pages, which scared me a little. Reading has always been so essential to me, the idea that I was losing that was beyond belief. Fortunately, it just turned out to be a particularly dull book that made it difficult, not reading at all. I still haven't had much time for light reading in awhile, so I took advantage of being at the library to pick out a few books.
I finished these two first. (Actually, I finished them yesterday, and I intended to write up my thoughts then too, but kept getting distracted. Home can be annoying like that.)
I spotted this Blue Beetle trade paperback completely by chance - it was one of the Librarian's Choice books on the shelf by the scifi/fantasy section, which is lucky for me because this was fun. The art is nice and clean, always a plus for me, a good chunk of the story actually explains the full background of the Blue Beetle armor, which was good for a know-nothing like me coming into the story, and I really liked Jaime and his family throughout the story. Also Milagro is adorable and I fully support that ol' fan campaign for Milagro the Green Lantern.
Downsides: I really didn't like the ditzy romantic interest with ties to Jaime's apparent ~nemesis~. I kind of get why she's such a ditz - her aunt hides her (crime family?) secret life so thoroughly that when the girl sees something suspicious she immediately assumes the best possible answer, and I got the impression that she'd only learned Jaime was the Blue Beetle fairly recently. So, if they're hiding things from her but still consider her important in their lives, of course she's going to come off as a ditz compared to, say, every other character who actually knows what's going on.
And yeah, there were some things I didn't get - this was a conclusion to a prior (pretty epic sounding) storyline, edging towards a new status quo at the end of the book - but that didn't stop me from liking it. I'll have to remember to get more of the new Jaime book; I'd bought the first one just to support the character, but I like his past stories, so I might like the redos of those stories. Who knows?
I have heard about the Thursday Next books for ages - it feels like years - but I never remember to look for them when I'm book shopping. I was kind of caught off guard when I spotted the first two books sitting on a shelf in that library, but I immediately decided to take advantage of the situation and read them, see if it was a series worth investing myself in. And it was!
This first book had a ton of enjoyable things going on in it for me: time travel (if viewed by a person with a fairly linear life, so she never noticed the changes, though I noticed her changing answers as the time traveling character changed the past), tons of literary references, alternate histories, multiple plotlines that came together at the end beautifully, a blending of reality with fiction, and I could go on and on.
The one thing I didn't like, which I suspect I will never like in first person detective-y novels, is the romance. These stories always make the romantic interest someone the main character was previously involved with, because it gives the writer a quick way to add more back story for the main character while building another subplot to work with. Two birds with one stone, I get why it's done. That doesn't change the fact that I hate these romances.
I can come into a plot in medias res, but do that to me with a romance and I cringe. I don't want to be told about how the relationship fell apart, despite the love still being there. I want to be shown it, from the damn start, longing and pining and UST for ages before one of them finally makes a move. I want to see that awkward fumbling as they get to know each other, I want the attraction to slowly turn into love, and I don't just want to be told about it afterwards. It takes all my enjoyment out of the romance to not be able to follow along from the beginning.
But putting that subplot aside, this story was absolutely delightful. The world-building was extraordinary, and the hints and insinuations about aspects of the world Thursday isn't really involved with make me want fic. More than that, crossover fic.
I mean, SpecOps-17 is just crying for Buffy or Supernatural characters to be brought in. Like: the Campbells traditionally take jobs in SpecOps-17, and when Mary got too close to one of Archeon Hades' "siblings", her husband took on her position for ~vengeance~, and then brought his sons into the job as well.
And the ChronoGuard! God, that's just begging for Time Lord interference. Or commentary, anyway. Like, how does some of that time travel work? Someone invents the banana in the future, then he brings it back to the past - how does the inventor know to make it in the future, then? I mean, it's kind of lampshaded in the text - Thursday says it gives her a headache to think about it, so she doesn't bother - but still. I'd like the Doctor to investigate the timey-wimey messing about in this universe.
With this bending of fiction and reality, how does Chuck react to the Winchesters? Does he assume they came out of the book? What if their book selves do come out of the book?
How does fanfiction work in the context of this world? Can they come to 'life', as it were? Do the fan versions of the characters exist separate from the original versions? Could they meet each other - are the fictional universe walls thin enough for different versions of characters to meet each other? I don't even necessarily mean fanfictional versions, but different canonized versions!
This entire alternate universe is utterly fascinating, and I desperately hope there is crossover fic (and that not all of it is "Thursday (or other Thursday Next character) enters the fictional world of [X]."). I also hope that the fascinating nature of the stories doesn't fall apart in the sequels, as it's been quite awhile since I was so taken by a new series.