McKinley is rapidly joining the ranks of authors that I have really really liked in the past, and would really really like to keep liking, but whose recent works have been on a one-way track to uninspired-town. (Tanya Huff and Neal Stephenson are also on that list.) The first of McKinley’s books I read was Beauty, which I reread not long ago and still highly recommend, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that is immediately absorbing and has a wholly lovable protagonist. My other favorite of hers is Sunshine, which I enjoy far more than I have any right to, given that it’s a product of the “age-old vampire x teenage girl” genre popularized by Twilight. And yet.
My recent forays into narratology have left me better equipped to analyze what, exactly, it is about a text that makes it succeed or fail, and on the subject of Robin McKinley, my conclusion is this:
1) She’s far better at creating character via first-person narration than third. (Although it’s no guarantee — her first-person Dragonhaven was a solid dud as well.)
2) Outlaws of Sherwood suffers from too much summary and too little scene. Seriously, I was 13% of the way through and there had been all of one actual scene — as in, dialogue and in-the-moment action — and the rest had been the narrator summarizing what they’d been up to. Boring as balls. Give me character subjectivity, or give me SOMETHING ELSE TO READ. I persisted up to 33%, then quit to go replay Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Counter-rec: Beauty if you want ye olde medieval fantasy, Sunshine if you want decent urban fantasy.
ETA: Apparently this came out in 2002?? Then why did I drunk-kindle-buy it last October and it was like, Congratulations on pre-ordering Outlaws of Sherwood! Whatever.