SCENE: A barren wasteland, riddled with fire, ash, and dus–no, wait, that’s Mordor. Ahem. Picture a dark, dusty, cluttered library, not unlike Bernard’s shop in Black Books…
(CAMERA PANS SLOWLY TO ROBYN’S SERIOUS FACE, WHICH LOOKS ALARMINGLY SIMILAR TO HER RAGE FACE)
Hello, my tasty little ice cream sandwiches. Welcome to a very special episode of the blog. We are going to talk about serious things and maybe have some Theo moments and maybe even learn things, god help us all.
Cart-wheeling Christ, Robyn (you might be thinking), what the hell is going on because you sound even weirder than usual? I’ll tell you what’s going on, my internet friend/acquaintance/enemy/mom. What is going on is that I, Robyn the Loquacious, Robyn the Verbose, Robyn the Pretty-Word-Chooser-Thingy, have found a book I cannot review.
Don’t get your bloody hopes up, though. It’s not because I’ve run out of words (ha ha, you’re stuck with me, wait don’t close the tab–) but because I have found a book I LOVE TOO MUCH. Yes. Too much.
But what does loving a book too much mean, Robyn? you might be asking yourself if you’re ignoring your therapist’s advice to stop talking to yourself because it’s creeping everyone out. I will tell you, you creepy darling. Of course, you can’t really love a book too much (notable exceptions: anything written by German dictators or anything that comprises the dogma of an organized religion YEAH I SAID IT). What I mean when I say I loved this book too much is that I love it too much to be objective about it. It means that I love this book so much that for the last five weeks since I read it I have literally, not figuratively, but actually, correct-dictionary-definition LITERALLY been struck dumb when asked to describe it. I kid you not. The best I can manage is a handful of fervent mumbles, punctuated by the word Sigrud. And it’s not like I’m not trying. I am. I want to share my love for this perfect book through thoughtful, insightful, carefully-crafted reviews instead of my current tactic of throwing the book at people I know and then pointing at their eyes, the book, and finally, making an unmistakable sawing gesture across my throat so they understand the consequences of not reading the Book I Love Too Much.
Maybe it’s all those years of surviving an English literature degree solely by my not-unimpressive ability to eviscerate the most highly respected works of the Western cannon with the ruthless savagery of my Cossack forefathers. Or maybe it’s jut because I’m the kind of miserable cynic that knows the well of criticism stretches far deeper than the one of praise. Maybe I’m just a cruel winter crone in a world of sweet summer children. Maybe I haven’t slept in 43 hours. Whatever the reason, I find it ridiculously god-damn hard to talk about the stuff that I love without. Or rather, why I love the stuff I love.
The Lord of the Rings books, Wuthering Heights, cake, freedom, Jason Momoa’s abs, Deadwood, cats, the watchmaker argument for the existence of an intelligent creator(s), Jason Momoa’s face, rainy days, anything written by Bernard Cornwell, the Lord of the Rings movies, the pre-2010 music of Gogol Bordello, the way it kinda hurts when you take out your ponytail after too long, Ragnar Loðrok holding a baby goat, the subject of this painfully surreal blog post… I love them all, my poor blog-hostages, but I am incapable of telling you why.
Or maybe I’m just fucking with you because I’m a) bored, and b) a psychopath.
Maybe this non-review of the unreviewable Book I Love Too Much is, in fact, the MOST PERFECT AND AMAZING BOOK REVIEW TO EVER BE WRITTEN IN THE STORIED AND GLORIOUS HISTORY OF BOOK REVIEWS! MAYBE THIS IN THE ONLY REVIEW WORTH OF THE BOOK I LOVE TOO MUCH! MAYBE I AM A BOOK-REVIEWING GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(For posterity’s sake, I will record that right now, I am cackling. I have never cackled before, nor do I think I have ever heard another living creature cackle, but right now, I am cackling, and it is both a vaguely disturbing and wholly transcendent experience that will forever change me.)
…INTERMISSION TO ALLOW YOU TO MOP UP YOUR TEARS OF RAGE/TERROR…
Hello again, my scrumptious little chocolate soufflés. I will now name the Book I Love Too Much.
The Book I Love Too Much is City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett.
The Deal: It’s time to get serious. I do really want you to read this book. It is well-paced, inventive, engrossing, and most of all, fun, which is sometimes rare in epic fantasy. And this is epic fantasy. The world-building is staggeringly detailed and complex, and I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am that there will be a sequel. I, of course, loved the Slavic atmosphere of Bulikov, the titular city of stairs. The heart of this book, though, is its characters. I can’t tell you what it means to me to find a female POC protagonist in a fantasy. When I pictured Shara, I saw someone like myself, and that is a pure, raw joy I have to keep folded away secret and safe in my heart. The other characters are all richly drawn, and oh, Sigrud. You will read this book, and you will meet Sigrud, and love him, and understand. #TeamSigrud. Ultimately, I can only say this perfect book is perfect, and if you disagree, grass before breakfast, you foul blackguard, you wretched scoundrel, you vilest of villains!
Robyn says: .
Verdict: Read it. Read it. Read it. ReaditReaditReaditReaditReaditReaditReaditReaditReadit READ IT. READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Best lines: The whole book is one best line after another. I’ll be honest, I was too engrossed to take notes, but I found this one on goodreads and it is one of many best lines:
“Forgetting… is a beautiful thing. When you forget, you remake yourself… For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must forget it was a caterpillar at all. Then it will be as if the caterpillar never was and there was only ever a butterfly.”
Rating: Five out of five Imperial Faberge Easter eggs, because you can’t get much more perfect than an Imperial Faberge Easter egg, can you?
(Robert Jackson Bennett, if you ever read this, I am so sorry and you’re a genius and we’re not worthy; the rest of you, I’m not sorry, you all knew what you were getting into when you started reading this.)