Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In Praise of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom

I love to read.  Walking into a bookstore is nothing short of heaven.  It doesn't matter if it's a gigantic Barnes&Noble with a snazzy cafe in the corner or a tiny independent in a strip mall.  Although, it does bug me that the Barnes&Noble cafe "serves Starbucks" but doesn't actually call themselves a Starbucks.  What's the deal with that?  I think they just use that as an excuse for when they mess up my overpriced coffee.  But a poorly made coffee is just one of the perils an avid reader faces.  The more insidious danger is picking up a bad read.

I've walked the aisles looking at my options, convinced that I have found my new favorite author, only to be horribly disappointed 25 pages later.  It's almost depressing to look at a beautiful cover design, read reviews from authors you know you like, and then find out you do not like the book you so carefully chose.  Worse, I can not stop reading a book once I've started.  It could be the worst book ever (Cold Mountain, I'm looking at you.) but I have to read to the end.  I convince myself that in a few more pages I will suddenly fall in love with the whole story.  Or, there's some small, insignificant part of the story that does intrigue me and I just have to know how it works out.  Yet despite the dangers of bad coffee and bad stories, there are great stories out there that make the search worthwhile.

One of my favorites is the Kate Connor series by Julie Kenner.  The fifth and latest book in the series is  "Demon Ex Machina: Tales of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom".  I picked up the first book awhile back because I thought the cover was fun, the reviews were good, and the title had loads of interesting potential.  I was not disappointed.  The heroine is a regular Mom (like me) who totes kids around from one playdate or class to another (like me) and is a Demon Hunter on the side (not like me, and if it was I couldn't tell you anyway).  It's fun to see how she's going to finish frosting cupcakes for her son's birthday and hide the demon she just killed from the carloads of moms and toddlers about to appear at her front door.

So often, women who fight big bad monsters in novels are loners who are afraid of commitment and are more attached to their guns than to people.  They have only a few strained friendships, no families, and lead sort of sad lives.  But Kate Connor has a very full life.  She's got kids she tries desperately to protect and a husband she adores.  Her demon hunting has to work around those people and that makes these books a fun read that I can relate to, and probably a lot of other women can, too.  Not the demon-hunting part, the real-life part.  Although, sometimes I wonder about some of the women at carpool....

2 comments:

  1. That sounds like an interesting book. I have some questions about your comments though. Not quite related to the book. What does interest women in this genre? What interests young girls in this genre too? Would you play a game with characters like that in it? As a dad with daughters, a gamer, and a budding game designer, I keep trying to figure out how to snag and keep the attention of the other half. If only because it will make gaming stores and GENCON much more pleasant places to be.

    All the best,

    Chris

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  2. Hi Chris,
    I think that women who like this genre want strong female characters. It's fun to watch a demon hunter, or vampire executioner, or witch take down the bad guys, but if that's all there is to the character, she falls flat. There needs to be a real person behind that warrior. One with a personal life that is complex and draws you further into her world. What makes this book different for me is that her world is so "normal" aside from her demon-hunting. I think that also makes this more accessible to women, especially those that might like the genre, but be turned off by an overly supernatural universe. I think the same can be said about young girls, too. They want to see characters that are in control, not walked all over.
    And I would definitely play a game with these kinds of characters!

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