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I'm not dead! And I haven't left Livejournal yet, I'm still checking my flist religiously, I promise, even if I'm entirely lurking.

At some point, I'm probably going to need to log into my Dreamwidth account for the first time in ages and figure out who everyone is on Dreamwidth and how to add them since it seems like people who held out on LJ through everything else have been evacuating one by one. I'm a pro at procrastinating, though, so I'll do that later ...

So anyways, I've vaguely formed a New Year's Resolution (formed in February, so let's call it a CNY Resolution) that since I read an awful lot of books (I read over 400 last year!), I should really write up reviews of them, especially the ones I like, especially since a good 60-70% of my reading list comes from recommendations from others. (If you write up book recs on your LJ, I add them to my list of books to read!) (I especially keep on meaning to write up reviews for the books I read for the #WOCinRomanceBookClub since I SUPER SUPER LOVED some of them.) Unfortunately, I'm a pro at procrastinating, so this hasn't happened yet, but since I recently read The Hanging Tree and then read some snatches of meta on tumblr, I've started a reread of all the Rivers of London books and have ~thoughts~ and figured what better way to jumpstart my attempt to write more reviews (I think I'm going to try to write 12 reviews this year, averaging one a month) by doing a thoughtdump on my reread.

My very disorganized and possibly incoherent thoughts, in no particular order, on Midnight Riot/Rivers of London:

  • I thought Midnight Riot was really slow the first time I read it, way back when.  When I'd finished, I had an overall meh response, and it wasn't until I read the later books that I got super into this series.

  • On reread, of course, I love all the things I used to find boring (the digressions into architecture, history & police proedure; the very tedious way the magic system works, etc., the characters (the first time I read this, I found Nightingale, Peter & Lesley rather dull; this is obviously no longer the case)).

  • After I started rereading the first book, I realized how important it was that I actually do this reread - I did mostly because I was very excited about the world again and didn't quite want to leave it yet, and partly because I wanted to get a handle on Lesley's character in light of The Hanging Tree, but it's been a while since I read the first book so I'd forgotten that I also needed to remind myself of the actual case/plot from the first book since apparently Mr. Punch is going to be a thing again now.

  • So most of my thoughts are either Punch/plot-related or Lesley-related.

Punch/Plot:

  • Okay, so on reread, I don't think I understand the actual plot of the first book at all.  I mean, on some level, I never did.  As a general rule, I read for plot & and for characters (as opposed to how good the writing is or the themes or whatnot), but if there are too many things that happen in the plot of the book, I'll get really caught up in the flow of the plot and what happens next but wouldn't be able to summarize the actual plot or the resolution of the plot by the time I finish.  Case in point:  I love Michelle Sagara's Chronicles of Elantra series but so many things happen that I couldn't for the life of me actually figure out or explain the plot of any individual book.  I could tell you all my favorite scenes, but not the actual main case/plot.  I think Seanan Mcguire's Toby Daye series works this way for me too - there's the first thing that goes wrong, but then so many things continue to go wrong as the book goes on that I couldn't begin to remember all the things that go wrong or how they are resolved.

  • Which is all to say that I totally forgot that Nicholas Wallpenny was Henry Pyke.

  • Okay, but - if that's the case, why and what was even the point?  Why did NW/HP offer up any evidence?  Why did he choose to involve Peter Grant?  Wouldn't he have continued to get away with everything if he hadn't done so?  Was it to get the police involved for the later Punch & Judy bits?

  • Also, was NW/HP/Punch possessing Lesley the whole time after her involvement?  Or were they sitting at the back of her head, observing everything but their actual "possession" didn't start until they took over her face?

  • If Punch is the spirit of riot and rebellion, I guess that means Peter didn't get rid of him permanently?  Just long enough for him to stop possessing people but apparently not too long because now Peter hears him again?  (Has Peter secretly been unknowingly sort-of-possessed by Punch all this time?  Unlikely.)

  • It's always interesting rereading earlier books in a series.  Beyond quality differences (e.g., early Discworld novels vs. later Discworld novels), there's also an awful lot of retconning (e.g., in Ilona Andrews' first Kate Daniels book, the protagonist has a best friend that literally never gets mentioned again, so that later on in the book, her new female friend becomes her First Female Friend She Ever Had, sort of retconning the book-1 friend out of existence, and then I think the most recent book tried to retcon the retcon and brought the book-1 friend back and tried to explain that they were simply ~estranged~)

  • Hmmm ... the more I think on it, the more I fail to understand how everyone thought magic was fading away when it was apparently thriving in underground secret societies and when practiced by people who were not white men.  I understand that the underground secret societies being underground, the Folly didn't know about them, and I guess the female practitioners had long had their own tradition and were frequently off doing their own thing, but if magic people continued to exist, there's no way the magic would die without all the magic people dying as well, right?  I mean, I think that's partly the whole point of Peter, that he doesn't revitalize the Folly just by existing but also by bringing in fresh perspectives.  I'll have to keep an eye on this thread as I reread and see if any further thoughts crystallize.

Lesley:

  • I am having so many thoughts about Lesley

  • It's interesting that I guess she really only appears for half of this book since it turns out the second half of the book, she wasn't really her, she was a possessed version of herself

  • And I don't think she shows up in the next book, barely, so it's really on the basis of the third and fourth book, plus half of this one, that we see her go from friend to foe.  I was SO BETRAYED AND SHOCKED when I got to that part, but in reflection, I guess I didn't really know her that well

  • I mean, Peter super ruined her life.  If he hadn't gotten involved in the magic world, and then subsequently gotten her involved in the magic world, she would have continued on as a superstar detective and not ended up where she did, but I mean, none of that is an excuse for TURNING EVIL

  • I am still holding out hope that she is not Super Evil and is still some sort of double-agent or playing a long con or something, but ... I feel like there is a stronger and stronger chance that she's Just Plan Evil and I need to reconcile myself to it (just like I had to reconcile myself to the twist in Dawn Cook's Princess At Sea or in Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker, or that others had to reconcile themselves to in Tamora Pierce's Provost's Dog trilogy)

  • I've been reading a lot of Lesley meta lately, but how given her actions in the latest book, there are apparently signs in the earlier books that she is more socially conservative and more on the police-brutality side of polcing rather than the community policing side (a la Peter), so it will be interesting to see if I pick up on that in my reread

  • Throughout the first book, we get lots of clues that Lesley's a better cop than Peter because he gets so easily distracted and does things like read plaques instead of take down suspects.  IIRC (and I will know for sure once I get there in my reread), she advances more quickly than him as well in learning magic because she simply has more focus.  On the other hand, Peter notes in Moon Over Soho which I'm rereading right now that there's definitely magic clues he's able to pick up on because he's so easily distracted - that if he were as focused as Lesley, he would miss them.  Personally, I definitely think his approach (actually trying to figure out how to drag Folly magic kicking & screaming into modern times and measuring it so he can figure out how to use a cell phone and do magic and everything) is better than listening to Nightingale's admonitions about getting the foundations down to the exclusion of everything else would be. But that could just be because as a reader, I want to know how the magic works, and I don't really care about the Latin words he has to use, so Peter makes a far better narrator in that sense.

  • I also think someone (not me) could write (and perhaps already has written) a very interesting essay on how reading between the lines, the experiences that Lesley and Peter have sort of encapsulate sexism & racism, on the sexism experienced by white women vs. racism experienced by men of color spectrum.  For example, Peter spends a lot of time thinking about getting in Lesley's pants in a way that I think is a little weird and creepy (I don't know, maybe this is how all guys think about their female friends), and in-text Lesley receives different treatment because of she is a pretty young blonde PC (or whatever wording they used after the Coopertown baby incident), and out-of-text one can presumably assume that she has faced a lot of sexism on the police force.  Maybe that's even why she works so super hard and is such a superstar, because she feels the whole "you have to do twice as well to get the same acknowledgment" thing.  Peter's race affects him even more explicitly in-text because the book is in his POV (see, e.g., concerns of whether he'll be drafted into the undercover gang force or whatever it's called solely because of his race) and one of my absolute favorite things about the books is how he refuses to call Nightingale master and doesn't like the term black magician and the million other ways his race affects his perspective and his experiences.  And then, of course, in the Hanging Tree, we met tons more super racist people (really, I feel like the number of racist people and the level of racism really ratcheted up in the latest book) including the Faceless Man.  And there, one could argue that Lesley standing by while the Faceless Man spouts super racist things based on information she has provided him is analogous to how historically white women's movements have often thrown people of color (usually black people) under the bus (see, e.g., famous white suffragettes who repeatedly argued that black men should not have the right to vote and they should).

  • In an unrelated vein, I think someonecould also write, etc., on how Lesley's identity (and women's identities in general) ties in her her face and her beauty.  I don't think it's something she ever thought about until she lost her face, until she scared people with her face.  Today, my secretary told me that I had a very beautiful smile and I was thinking about how I use my smile very purposefully.  For the most part, I don't smile at people because I'm actually happy to see them, it's a conscious smile because I want people to think I'm a nice and friendly person.  I hadn't realized how much I use my smile this way until I briefly had Bell's palsy a few years ago.  For a couple of weeks, only half of my face worked which meant that when I did smile at peope, it came out as a strange grimace instead of the normal friendly smile I try to use to disarm people and smooth things over.  I hadn't realized how often I use my smile for a specific purpose until that experience.  Lesley's experience, of course, is that times a million.  No excuse for working for a murderous racist sociopath, of course, but it's something I am thinking about on my reread.

  • Sidebar:  I feel like on reread, I can spot bits where Nightingale is clearly panicked because he is the Grand Repository Of All Wizardry Knowledge when he may or may not have been paying attention that day in class.  It's like when I'm at work and I'm taking notes on a call but I don't think I'm the one revising documents afterwards so my notes are shit and then the partner asks if I can revise the documents per the call and I have to lie and say yes.  But.  You know.  On a grander scale.

(I have spent so long drafting/revising/procrastinating this that I am already halfway through rereading the next book ...)

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