The Dresden Files [Books 2-4]
by Jim Butcher
That’s right, I’m reviewing in bunches now because 1) reviewing them by themselves just seems so repetitious unless I’m willing to discuss spoilers (which I’m not), 2) there are so many books in this series that to review each one individually would totally bombard you with Butcher, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I like a little more variety on my blog, 3) I’m reading so much faster than I’m reviewing these days that if I waited to do these individually you wouldn’t hear about them until next year (totally not kidding… I finished Fool Moon in June 2014) and finally 4) after three years of book blogging I finally figured out that I make my own rules for my blog and can review more than one book at a time if I want to… This seems like a really stupid epitome, but it has been liberating (I am blogger, hear me roar)!
So let’s talk about The Dresden Files for a minute. :-)
I can definitely see why Jim Butcher is considered a staple in the Urban Fantasy genre – he has an excellent main character (who is a tad whiny at times, but that’s kind of why I like him), loads of paranormal that will continually ding your creep-o-meter (even though I admit it doesn’t take much to set mine off), and plenty of action, humor, and intrigue. Overall, if you’ve never read an urban fantasy, this author is a great place to start. The best thing about him is that he seems to get better with each book.
I think this one might of been my least favorite so far, but when you’re dealing with 4 to 5 star titles, that’s not really a big deal. If you read negative reviews of this author, one of the number one complaints is the objectifying and over-sexualization of women in his novels. While I definitely see what they are talking about, I personally didn’t find it offensive… I found it funny. And because I found it funny, it made it difficult for me to take the book seriously. The story would start to spike my adrenaline with these ridiculously scary werewolves running around tearing people to pieces, then they would switch back to human and creepy went out the window in favor of bodies, bodies, and more bodies (and not of the deceased variety). I can’t quite figure out if Butcher is doing it on purpose or not – oversexualizing every female so that the most normal and relatable woman in the story, Murphy, stands out even more. If it was in fact a deliberate misdirection, it’s brilliant… Murphy always looks the most appealing to me because she has the most substance, and she’s one of the main reasons I was excited to keep reading at this point in the series.
I remember hearing an interview where Jim Butcher talked about Grave Peril being the book where most fans thought the story came alive, and I can’t say I disagree – there seemed to be a lot more in-depth character development, as well as richer side characters who really added to the completeness of the story. Now was there still ridiculously over-sexualized women at every turn? Totally, but this time it felt like it was integral to the plot, making the bad guys seem a lot more dangerous in their allure rather than just being over the top for kicks and giggles (of which I have no issue with, other than they don’t add much substance to the plot that way). I also thought this book was the funniest one so far and think Bob is one of the best sidekicks I’ve read to date. Where Fool Moon dealt with werewolves, Grave Peril focused on Vampires, and I appreciate that each book seems to have a different paranormal focus. For the record, this one scared me the most… but keep in mind that I’m a wimp.
The “whodunit” framework for this novel was a lot of fun – especially since the culprits were Fae and poor Dresden got caught up in their politicking. I think the overall atmosphere for Summer Knight was my favorite element – it had lots of magic, some interesting creatures, and we got to learn a lot more about the Fae and how they operate. Even though the “monsters” in this novel were a little more lighthearted than in the previous ones, the internal conflicts Dresden faced were as serious as I’ve seen them. Even though there was a lot of character growth (which I always like), there was no shortage of paranormal, action, and overall plot advancement. I think this one may have been my favorite so far simply because Murphy was really involved in the plot – I love the dynamics between her and Dresden. As of now, the series is going strong and I am eager as ever to pick up the next book.
Overall, The Dresden Files are a ton of fun to read and I recommend them to anybody who likes urban fantasies… In fact, you’re kind of not in the cool-kids club until you’ve read them… just sayin’. I’d heard amazing things about Butcher for ages before I finally picked up Storm Front, but it was only after I read a couple of his blog posts I knew we’d get along. He had this one hilarious post where he copied and pasted at least fifty soul-crushing, vicious reviews of his books, and I’m talking pages and pages of Butcher-hating slander, then at the very end simply wrote* “sometimes it’s hard to get motivated.” And lucky for those of us who love him, his books are permeated with that awesome humor.
*Disclaimer – it has been years since I’ve seen that post and I haven’t yet taken the time to look it up, so forgive me if I misquoted him…. you get the gist, though.
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