3 stars : “like not love”. Or -to develop a bit – I enjoyed it, but it didn’t totally work for me because I’ve had issues with the execution and because my tastes got in the way. I found that it showed undeniable qualities, such as a brilliant idea to begin with, inventiveness, an underlying joy at telling a story, and a good writing. The author had fun, it is contagious and it is great. The story is complex enough to be interesting and it is great. However, I also found that it was sometimes tiring and more confusing than intriguing, which is not so great. As for my tastes, I’m not overly fond of ‘cute’.
So. The story. Let’s sort things out, ‘cause there’s a lot going on. This is urban fantasy with a dash of horror. This is also :
It’s a lot, but not too much. I won’t spoil you with the details, but the general idea is that all those threads fit nicely together. If the starting point is well and truly adorkable Sigmund meeting cool and good-looking Lain, and both of them having a cute romance, the core points are the Wyrd (fate with a big F, don’t sweat on it you can’t fight it), the Ragnarök (Armageddon à la Norse) and the lie smith. Lies, fights, doom. Enough said. My poison.
I found the execution confusing though, and that’s not because of my weak knowledge of the Norse lore. I know Loki from the Avengers, the Wyrd and the Ragnarök from Wikipedia and some info dumping here and there, that’s saying. It was enough to follow, and regarding words I didn’t understand and was too lazy to investigate about – I am not totally averse to keeping a part of mystery in my fantasy as long as it’s not total darkness.
So, not too much, not too cryptic, but still confusing, meaning something between unfocused, vague and all over the place. How very informative, I know. Words fail me, okay! The problem is that this story is supposed to be elusive, which is tricky to execute. The author did a fine job with tying up her threads, the ending is definitely not an issue; but there is a fine line between elusive and muddling, and we crossed it just a little bit too often for my liking. This is my most objective issue along with the fact that I wished for something a little more solid in the characterization. I admit that Sigmund dorkiness was funny (I’ll get to that) and cute, but it wasn’t enough for me to grow attached to him and to care for his romance. Lain is an amazing opportunity at complexity, but, again, elusiveness was at work.
Let’s get to the fun. Nerds playing at the Norse version of Resident Evil for real, Sigmund’s obliviousness and awkwardness, Lain’s flippancy are fun, and the author is never short of good lines. I smiled. Often. A lot. Really, the author can write; she can change her voice when needed, and she can be hilarious. However, too much of the same humour kills the humour, and I also often wished that she would tone it down a notch. I may have lost sight of my early twenties, but Sigmund sounded a lot more like a teen than a young adult, and I’m not crazy about the whole high school retards flavour. That is subjective though.
My conclusion is that this story had the deflects of its virtues. My guess is that the ratings it will get will be all along the spectrum from mild enjoyment to absolute adoration. I doubt that many readers will hate it. Give it a try if you have a weakness for adorkable characters stuck in a creepshow with sneaky twists, I think that it’s worth a shot.