March 2021 Wrap-Up

All the Murderbot, a couple other novels, a Murderbot reread on the side, and then I go on about characters making bad decisions and reader satisfaction.



Spoilers: Best month yet
I mean, I read eight books in March compared to the like, 3, in other months, but still, I’m very proud of myself, even if I didn’t read the 12.5 books math tells me are necessary to hit my 150 book goal for 2021. But hey, that’s what binging short stories and novelettes is for!

Words read in January : 435,000
Words read in February: 230,000

Drum Roll For March’s wordcount!

art history dog GIF by Art UK


Words read in March
: 457,000
hell yeah hell yeah look at those numbers, best month yet wooooo




Favourite

Exit Strategy—I really thought Rogue Protocol was going to be my favourite Murderbot book. I enjoyed it all the way through, whereas Exit Strategy takes a minute for Murderbot to get to the good stuff. But while the good stuff in Rogue Protocol is very good stuff, the good stuff in Exit Strategy is the very best good stuff. I keep coming back to it and rereading my favourite snippets. I love this series so much and I’m super looking forward to Fugitive Telemetry, coming out out later this month.

Least Favourite
the second half of The Unbroken—Again, this was a hard one. I loved the first half! I think I read the first half in a day! But then the characters started making some really bad decisions—and I am talking painfully, obviously bad—and I found myself only able to read pages at a time, fingers splayed in front of my eyes to spare myself from the godawful glare of the poor decision-making. This did get me thinking about the construction of stories, how the audience interacts with them, and what we get from any given experience. Touraine’s and Luca’s bad decisions were mostly in line with their characterization and goals. (I’ll argue that for someone who apparently got such high ranks in a military academy, Touraine should’ve fucking seen that outcome, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) It’s necessary, for a character to be a good character, for that character to make mistakes and suffer the repercussions, not only for their own development, but to keep the plot interesting.

So, why do we as readers enjoy some of these parts and hate others? I believe the reader needs to receive something or at least be on the path to receiving something. This is, in part, because we also lose something when a character makes a poor choice and suffers the consequences. For example, (spoilers) in The Unbroken, when Touraine betrays one character’s trust, she not only alienates herself from that character, but her decision also results in the death of a friend (and more alienation!) This means things the audience previously enjoyed (or were intended to enjoy,) such as the slow, tense moments building a romance between her and Luca, are replaced with a bunch of anxiety and stress. It’s not a fair trade off! The reader needs something juicy or the promise of something juicy in return: more information about magic, an interesting character dynamic, etc., none of which we get during this section. It’s more secrets and hostility, and then an extra dollop of bad decisions on top. This isn’t interesting; it’s frustrating.

(Bad decisions are both whipped cream and high beams in this post. Oops.)

What were your favourite reads in March?


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