Have you found book perfection?
Have you found the book you haven’t mentally rewritten in your head?
That book you would’ve loved except for [fill in the blank]?
A book that despite its flaws you wouldn’t change a thing because it’s…[sigh] perfect. Well, perfect for you since nothing is truly perfect for everyone. So, I mean the ‘perfect for you’ book.
It’s surprising how rare the perfect book is. After all, I—probably like you—read lots of books each year. I hate a few, but I love many more. I even have dozens of favorites. Yet, something about those beloved books need some changes or just seem wrong somehow. The character’s personality changed a little too much. The dialog’s annoyingly silly. The premise is a little unbelievable.
Well, I recently found my perfect book, books since they’re two series: All the Pretty Monsters by Kristy Cunning and Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. They’re more than favorites because, despite some flaws, I wouldn’t change a single word.
So why are they perfect?
It’s everything about them. The characters make me feel, and the flaws seem irrelevant. Today, I want to focus on the premises that enthralled me.
For me, the perfect premise must not only be enjoyable but also be plausible, which is probably why I struggle with sci-fi, which has always been hard for me. I understand the worlds authors have layered into fantastic stories, yet I can’t buy it. Somehow the situation, the conflicts, the characters’ new worlds are too much for me to accept.
The military and robotics engineers teamed up with doctors to create the perfect soldier, but they couldn’t disconnect his feelings from his programming? Ah, naw.
Astronauts encounter an unknown species that slowly and methodically kills everyone it encounters? Umm, nooo.
But if the premise is a bit fanciful…
A vaguely defined supernatural male needs a vaguely defined supernatural woman’s help in recovering the lost stones of sin before the bad guys find them and enslave the world? Tell me more about those wacky stones.
A grim reaper detective and the devilish convict she dreams about are more than they seem? Oh yeah.
A woman who cannot die; instead, she panics, faints, and become a violent mindless creature? I want the whole series.
I know. I know. How is this plausible? It’s not, but I’m a sucker for paranormal, supernatural, and fantasy. Toss a little romance into the mix, and I love them. Oddly, sci-fi’s romances are mere suggestions.
Anyway, the plots’ cores, as well as the fantastical details, are important.
The two ‘perfect for me’ premises share a common purpose. Charley Davidson is a grim reaper who’s had her power since birth, and Violet Portocale (All the Pretty Monsters) is an unusual monster unlike any seen in a century. And while both women are powerful, they must discover their true powers, purposes, and loves as the stories progress.
This premise is so simple; it’s relatable.
Well, I can’t relate to the plain Jane panicky monster being seduced by four alpha monsters. And, sure, I can’t relate to the grim reaper who falls in love with Satan’s son while working to help her human daughter prepare for Satan’s army. Those experiences are…unique.
But who hasn’t thought of their life, personhood, or experiences one way, but sudden obstacles or challenging people have created a fresh perspective on them? Who hasn’t struggled to understand who they are and what they contribute to the world? No matter how outlandish the details, the basics connect with me.
Empathizing with the characters’ experience keeps me anxious to know what happens next. My perfect books make me feel.
As I read the last Charley Davidson book, I realized a major plot twist near the story’s end even though I still had 15% of the story to read. The sudden realization should have ruined the book for me. After all, don’t audiences hate it when the plot twists and resolutions are obvious?However, the realization had an opposite effect on me. Charley makes a heartbreaking choice. Even worse, the author deliberately made me see Charley’s sad choice, yet the character maintains her determined, happy disposition so that her friends and family wouldn’t realize the truth. The character struggles with the choice, and I can’t look away. I dragged myself along with her as she moved the preparations.
I felt her despair; I ached for her.
All the Pretty Monsters, although the series isn’t over, had the same affect me. Like Charley, Violet finds herself slapped by reality.
Violet struggles to discover why—why her mother’s ghost didn’t come to her, why her mother taught her to faint rather than fight, why is she the only monster of her kind, and why did her mother send her to a monster hunter? So many unanswered questions. As the story progresses, she spends more time with the monsters, and she discovers her answers to her whys, answers she neither hoped for nor expected.
Sadly, Violet discovers she is not special; instead, she is a means to an end, no matter how much her guys deny it. Her guys disappoint her; her mother disappoints her. She learns to trust unexpected allies, and she loses those who are important to her. She discovers a flippant comment from a friend is true. They hurt my heart to share her experiences as her hopes for more love, meaning, and loyalty are dashed.
Like many people, I can relate to wishing a relationship is more than it is, hoping to achieve grander aspirations but realizing destiny is ordinary.
Still, Violet’s story includes a little too much sex, but it is a reverse harem story. And Charley’s level of crazy is “laugh out loud” over the top at times. However, every word draws me closer to the characters until I feel like they are best friends I know better than anyone else.
Making All the Pretty Monsters and the Charley Davidson series perfect for me.