The Book of Life (The Discovery of Witches Series)

Have you ever been so disappointed in a book that you can’t even describe why it’s so bad? So you need to go to goodreads in order to find a review that accurately describes why it’s terrible?

Oh, also, this post won’t be very well put together. It’s mostly a rant describing how angry I am.

So, with that said, I read the All Souls Trilogy, though I’m not sure anyone actually calls it that. I finished Book three – the Book of Life just the other day and I cannot even begin to describe to you how disappointed I am.

tbol

WARNING: EVERYTHING BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS

First, I’m so confused about the main character, Diana. Is she a Damsel in Distress or a Mary Sue? Because she’s both in some weird paradox of the world. She has, essentially, ALL THE POWERS! and yet, she’s constantly being rescued and her husband claims that because he has this “disease” (which is cured by being totally Zen, btw…) and because he’s a vampire, he must always know where she is at all times. He also claims that she has to be an obedient wife to him.

Color Me Disgusted.

Oh, oh, oh, and – AND – Vampires are very similar to wolves, so there’s an Alpha Male. The third book encompasses Matthew’s struggle with becoming the Alpha Male. Essentially, the entire last book seems to be an ode to how men and women were supposed to act in the 1600s.

I will say, however, at least Diana’s not a stay-at-home Mom. As soon as she gives birth, she runs off to find The Book of Life, while Matthew runs off to get caught by his sadistic rapist son.

The dialogue is terrible and cliche, and just sings cheesy romance book. And we’re reintroduced to every character a million times. This is the third book, we don’t need to be reintroduced to every character – a reminder, sure, but not a full-blow description. And we don’t need the theme of the book – and the information about weavers and blood rage – to be repeated over and over and over again.

AND we spent the last couple of books talking about how creatures need to stay safe ad hidden. And suddenly, in this book, we’re telling EVERYONE we’re witches and vampires? AND none of them freaked out? Excuse me, but that makes no fucking sense. Diana told her best friend, a classroom full of college students, and a librarian that she was a witch, but no one batted an eye? They were like “Oh, cool.” It’s not even logical. How do you go from not believing that something exists at all to be totally fine with someone you know being that something?

But I digress.

The issue I have is really with the confusion of Diana. Sure, one could say that everyone is a combination of Mary Sue and Damsel in Distress, But what makes it even more confusing is the constant theme of her being this matriarchal figure in the family, while also being forced to obey all of the men in her life. She must obey Phillipe’s wishes, do what Baldwin says, and follow her husband’s every move.

She can be empowering – there are moments when she “tries” to disobey, but then the moments when she does, they’re only undercut by the male characters who then force her to obey them anyway. It’s disturbing how much freedom and power she has that must be then taken away.

She may has saved the day at the end of the book, but that doesn’t make her a strong female character. Strength lies within all of us, but her strength is consistently cut down to satisfy the needs of others. Why does she have to hide? Why must she bow behind the men in her life, protecting them with the greatest power in the Universe (I’m assuming here – she is a Mary Sue, after all), but answering to them at all times? It’s the worst combination.

END RANT

Maybe I read it wrong. Have you read it? What did you think?

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Bojenn says:

    Hi, yes, I’ve read the first 2 and am almost at the end of The Book of Life. I do find them entertaining; however, enough is enough. I’m so confused towards the end, I’m not sure who is who and what happened last. There are too many characters, in my opinion which makes it hard to keep up with all the details. And the worst is I’m sick of Diana’s whininess. For a PHD and career woman she is wimpy and dependent on Matthew and others. She is controlled and immature. Let’s get over it, Diana…
    My take…

    1. sotuachair says:

      Thank you! I completely agree – she is really whiny for someone as intelligent and powerful as she is.

      1. Bojenn says:

        Diana’s weakness has been my number one dislike regarding this story. If she had been less of a “doormat” then I would be less disappointed. Since, I have not reached the end of the series, I’m hoping she pulls out of her frailty of submission and says, something courageous and independent of the Claremont’s, et al…

  2. starwarsanon says:

    I read the first book in February 2012 and I had to go back to my goodreads review to see what I thought of it. I remember being disgusted and disappointed though. I gave it 3/5 stars. Here’s my review (looks like I had a rant too!):

    “I went up and down with this book. I loved the first third of the book and enjoyed it immensely. I thought it was fresh and different and the plot intrigued me.

    By the time Diana fell in love with Matthew, acknowledged her feelings, and they whisked off to France…I was annoyed. Nothing bothers me more than when the plot gets put on the back burner and romance takes hold of the book. The romance between Matthew and Diana basically became the plot and it seemed to drag on much too long. It also annoys me when the main characters are so one-sided or seem to turn into different people when they are in love. Diana started out as a character I could relate to and/or enjoy reading. When she and Matthew became more heavily involved in France, she turned into a stereotypical romance novel character: stubborn with Matthew to the point of stupidity (does this somehow make woman seem “strong” and “independent”?), but also completely engrossed in her feelings for him that everything else in the world seems irrelevant. Diana was no longer interested in her family, a sinister Congregation coming after her and Matthew, her research (which, I want to point out, is all she seemed to live for before meeting Matthew, so how did it all of a sudden not matter?), or the fact that she had to speak at a symposium in the following months. How could all of that disappear? And THAT is my problem with female characters that become obsessed with their love interest. I feel it sets a bad example for younger girls reading these books and makes them think it’s ok to become totally, disgustingly obsessed with the person you love while forgetting those and your life around you.

    Rant over.

    The last third of the book slowly gripped my interest again as Diana and Matthew head back to Connecticut to live with her aunts and figure out what to do with Diana’s extreme, and untrained, witch power. Maybe the less time Matthew and Diana spent together, the better I liked the characters and the story. If they were kept apart, or at least surrounded by multiple different characters and species, the book became enjoyable and the plot picked up again.

    At the end of the book, Diana and Matthew decide to timewalk to a different era so that Diana can be trained to use her powers by witches who are more advanced. I am actually interested enough in the book that I think I would like to know what happens as they continue. Perhaps the lovey, dovey part is over, the rest of the books will only contain action and/or plot development, and it will keep my interest.”

    HAHA, clearly I wasn’t interested enough to pick up the next books because I didn’t even know that the last two were out. Oh well. I had major issues with the romance too, it seems like. I agree with your review of the series, even though I only read the first book!

    Speaking of which, since you seemed annoyed even in the beginning, why did you read all three?

    1. sotuachair says:

      I had a very similar experience with the first book – Diana was actually pretty interesting at first. It was easy for me to pick up the second book because I was currently working in a bookstore and had the ability to check books out.

      The second book was a bit better, if only because it brings out the lit-and-history nerd in a person. I mainly focused on theatre with my studies, so when they travelled back to a time when they were constantly interacting with Christopher Marlowe and spoke constantly of Shakespeare, I was in. I don’t think the writing improved, but it was nice to understand the little bits of history jokes.

      To be honest, I believe I picked up the third book mainly with that in mind. I had hoped that, since the second book was at least more enjoyable, the third might also get better. Alas, no luck and the romance aspect was about 10 times worse. There were also hints of more books at the very end.

      They can count me out as a reader if they do decide to continue on.

      1. starwarsanon says:

        At least you got through all three books! Looks like I meant to pick up the second, but never did. As I’ve begun to think about the novel more last night, I’m realizing that I did enjoy Diana’s character and I remember really liking the first part of the novel.

        Random side note: Harkness is an alumna from my college (Mount Holyoke College) which is an all women’s college which emphasizes independence and female empowerment…which is amusing considering what we all thought of Diana’s character in this novel.

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