Thursday, May 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: One Damned Things After Another (Chronicle of St. Mary's, #1) by Jodi Taylor

I’m glad that I finally got around to reading one of Jodi Taylor’s time-traveling comedic novels known as the Chronicles of St. Mary's series. I started with he first book in the series, Just One Damned Thing After Another.

Although it didn’t resonate for me as much as it has with other readers I definitely appreciate the craft it took to pull off a book which is both explicitly funny, action-packed and pure speculative fiction. There's a reason why every entry in the series has a Goodreads average rating  score in the 4.0 range, often with 10,000+ ratings.

The main character in 
Just One Damned Thing After Another is Madeleine Maxwell (everyone calls her “Max”) and JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER follows her as she joins the St. Mary Historical Society, discovers time travel is real and has lots of exciting (and dangerous) adventures. Max is great and one of the primary strengths of the book. The other important characters in the book include her boss Professor Bairstow, her immediate supervisor Leon Farrell and the other historians she goes on excursions into the past with.

I do think the writing is well done (although at some points it seems a bit stenographic  in nature with the inclusion of an excessive level of detail in the minutiae of the characters regular daily tasks, including their morning ablutions). It’s very hard to get snark and clever asides with exactly the right tone and I think the author successfully accomplishes that throughout. However, what didn't work for me was the general angst of the main character and her obtuseness about her relationships with other people. In addition, although it is somewhat admirable, I also became tired at the author's penchant for killing off rather important characters, people she had spent a significant time letting the reader get to know. If this what happens in Book 1, I'm mildly curious about how she is able to sustain this as the series continues.

Unfortunately, the book as a whole didn’t really resonate with me and I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the many sequels (up to Book 8 as of this writing). I do think it’s a great premise and would make a very compelling screen adaptation. In the end, though, I appreciated the book more than I actually enjoyed reading it. I suspect I may be in the minority of readers for whom that is true and that is quite alright with me.

Title: Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St. Mary's, #1)
Author: Jodi Taylor
Paperback: 348 pages.
 Accent Press.
Date Published: June 1, 2013.
Date Read: April 29, 2018.

★★☆  (4.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

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