Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tinker by Wen Spencer (Hey look, an Elf!)

I found this one through the comments on SBTB too. Seriously, unless you have hours and hours to spare, don’t read comments on the book-recommendation posts.

Encapsulate This

Set in the near-future, Pittsburgh (due to a faulty inter-dimensional gate) is now part of an alternate dimension called Elfhome (where the elves live, no doy). One day a pack of wargs chase a super-sexy elf noble into the scrap yard where genius inventor Tinker works/invents stuff. She saves the super-sexy elf noble (his name is Windwolf, or Wolf Who Rules Wind, or Wolf Who Rules, take your pick) from the weird-not-quite-wargs. Practical and intellectual, Tinker is eighteen, has never been kissed, and has never been on a date. Naturally, she is infatuated with (super-sexy elf noble) Windwolf. There is a whole lot of stuff going on in this book, so I will summarize thus: Tinker goes on a date with a long-time friend, things go badly, she meets up with Windwolf again, things go badly, she is kidnapped by good guys, things go badly, she meets the elf Queen, things go badly, she is kidnapped by bad guys, things go really badly, she sort-of saves the day, REALLY ABRUPT ENDING. (Even for a cliffhanger, it was a little ridiculous.)

Ruminate on That

As I said, there is a lot of stuff going on in this book. With the combination of magic/science, mythology, romance, sexy times, alternate dimensions, super-smart heroine, and super-sexy elves, it has a lot of potential but Tinker can be a bit of wet rag sometimes and there were a number of unresolved sub-plots (some due to the existence of the unexpected sequel). A large part of my problem with this one is that Tinker is absurdly smart but in a really narrowly defined way. Yes, she’s a genius but because she has little life experience she’s naïve and doesn’t ask questions when she should, so things happen to her instead of her making things happen.* I’m hopeful that this is intentional and we see some character growth in the next two (!) books.

Final Reckoning

Read this? I think the premise is interesting enough and the writing/style is good enough to mostly forgive the wishy-washy heroine. Honestly though, I may just like it because I love elves.

Tinker by Wen Spencer, Book 1 of Elfhome

*Real Talk: This bit is a little spoiler-y, so don’t read it if that bothers you.

*There are a few aspects of this story that make my inner feminist shriek. Lack of consent (as it pertains to sex and other things) is an obvious one. Windwolf takes advantage of Tinker’s lack of knowledge about elf customs more than once. Is it intentional? I don’t know. The elves divide themselves by caste, so maybe it is just supreme arrogance on his part. Maybe he assumes that Tinker knows what’s going on simply because she’s supposed to be super-smart. Either way, even when she does ask questions, she’s given evasive answers. For example, he turns her into an elf because he “doesn’t want her to die” which she takes to mean “immediately” but he means “eventually” because she’s human and thus mortal. This is a seriously fucked up thing to do to someone without EXPLAINING and giving them a chance to accept or refuse. And then there is a scene with a sexual assault that is treated dismissively. A victim of SA is entitled to deal with it how they choose, but it happens and is never mentioned again. An attempted rape should be more than a mere plot device. It felt like it was added to provide an out for Tinker to be with Windwolf without the annoying love triangle bit. I have a suggestion: Instead of using attempted rape to rid the narrative of an unwanted character, how about we just don’t have the unwanted character? Hmm?

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