Friday, August 3, 2012

Tinker by Wen Spencer

I'd seen Tinker and picked it up a few times before I finally purchased it, and I think that purchase was driven by seeing a new entry in the series, so I thought it would be worth trying.

I think the concept is excellent. A part of our world (Pittsburgh) in this case ends up in another reality where elves and other magical creations are real and regularly interact with humans. The concept and setting are an interesting mash up of science fiction, urban fantasy, fantasy and paranormal romance. In some ways it's not dissimilar to Nancy A. Collins Golgotham duology (Right Hand Magic and Left Hand Magic), and I did enjoy that, so I thought Tinker might be fun.

This sort of mix of styles and genres can work really well if done right, however if not the results are pretty dire. Unfortunately Tinker falls into the latter. I did like the idea behind the book, and I thought both the elves and their enemies, the Asian influenced onis, were well drawn and handled overall. The elvish society was also slightly Asian influenced, the naming conventions (one family or tribe/clan all had a reference to wind in their name, another flames) became a little tedious and was overdone.

Where Tinker fell down was in the writing, a lot of it was really clunky, the action was done competently, but descriptions were often overly flowery, the sex scenes read like something I'd expect to find in a trashy romance, and sometimes the description went over the top. The dialog was frequently short and choppy, rather like a TV script filled with lines the writers thought were snappy and snarky.

The other thing that was really off were the characters. I loathed Tinker, she was one dimensional and perfect, except when the plot needed her to be stupid. For someone with her upbringing and life style she was remarkably naive. The transition of the cop Nathan from concerned local law enforcement to aggressive, abusive boyfriend was also completely unbelievable and very ham fisted.

There's a blurb on the front of the book from a Publishers Weekly review that fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would find a lot to enjoy. That's a pretty lazy comparison, it's also totally inaccurate. A lot of Tinker (the execrable romance and sex scenes aside) reads like an off the wall Saturday morning cartoon. It has largely the same amount of character development and dialog.

The author has done a few sequels, so they must have a readership. It didn't work out for me. If anyone did like Tinker, or the concept, I'd advise them to give Nancy A. Collins Golgotham books a try, a lot of what Tinker got wrong, it does right.

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