Monday, April 2, 2012

Impressions: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire


Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...
Well, wasn't this just a refreshing urban fantasy read? It has a lot to do with Verity Price, the heroine of the story. She's young, yes... she can kick ass and has some wonderful sarcastic lines in this story, but Verity is happy! She's not moody or depressed or a downer. Helping along with this refreshing atmosphere we have her permanent roommates, the Aeslin mice, those happy, happy, talking rodents who have daily religious celebrations about everything they can think of, and HAIL Verity as their Princess. It's a party at home for this girl whether she wants one or not

Verity's family life and personal choices help along with the atmosphere too. She seems to have a "normal," loving relationship with her parents and siblings, Alex and Antimony, even if her life is not considered the norm. The other surprise is her choice to make a career out of ballroom dancing. An urban fantasy heroine as a ballroom dancing queen? Lots of fun. I love it! I also love Verity's sense of freedom when she plummets from her kitchen window into the darkness and races through the rooftops of New York City, and her straight forward approach to situations as she confronts or relates to both friends and foes.

Of course Discount Armageddon is not a light fairytale. There are dark spaces, tough villains, scary moments, great kick ass fighting, a mystery to solve and that wonderful pacing that makes urban fantasy the genre we all love. There's also a love interest who just happens to be part of the Covenant and a nemesis of the Price family. Dominic DeLuca is in New York for the Covenant of St. George to evaluate the situation for his organization to see if a Cryptid purge is needed. Of course these two meet as enemies, but this is Dominic's first foray into the field and pretty soon he and Verity are working together and she's trying to change his long-held beliefs: that all Cryptids are monsters and all deserve to be exterminated.

Verity and her family were labeled traitors to the human race by the Covenant when they quit the organization generations ago. Why? Well, they hold different beliefs. To them Cryptids are sentient beings and as such yes, some are monsters, but most just do what they are meant to do, live with their families, or alone, and survive, and nature dictates that there's a reason for their existence. Because the family is considered traitorous, they are hunted by the Covenant and have been in hiding to avoid assassination for generations. Verity and Dominic's meeting in New York is monumental and dangerous, not only for her personally, but for her whole family's safety.

I love Verity and Dominic together, as well as the rest of the cast of characters that are introduced in this book. For me, one of the few weakness in this first book comes from Verity's lack of curiosity about Dominic and in how quickly she "trusts" an enemy. Verity doesn't ask enough questions, and since the story is from her first person point of view by the end of the story Dominic is still pretty much a mystery. There's no real proof that what he says is truth, and although his actions do back up what he says, there's a 'wait and see' factor to Dominic's character that is not entirely satisfactory. Although I'm sure his background will really be explored in future installments.

Verity's family's history is also a bit of a muddle even with the family tree that's provided at the beginning of the book. Her immediate family is well defined: her mother, father and siblings sound wonderful, but once great grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc., are mentioned, the relationships and some of the events that Verity mentions get a bit confusing and some bits of information dropped here and there are left unexplained. This is something that is also left open for future exploration. The mystery is well done with plenty of clues along the way, a good twist at the end, and some logistics that don't quite make sense to me -- mainly to do with William.

McGuire is a new-to-me author, so I'm one of those readers who is beginning with a clean slate. I'm not comparing this series with her Toby books (yet). As such, I can say that even with the niggles found in this first book, I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Discount Armageddon is fun and refreshing, full of wonderful characters, and I love this world. I can't wait to meet Alex and Antimony, or to find out what the heck is up with Dominic. And of course, Hail Verity!

Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: InCryptid
Publisher/Release Date: Daw Books, Inc/March 6, 2012 - Kindle Ed.
Grade: B

Visit Seanan McGuire here.

9 comments:

  1. I skipped parts of your review, Hils, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! Well I'm assuming you enjoyed it, by the "Hail Verity!" LOL. You didn't put a grade.

    I've picked this up this morning to read :)

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  2. LOL, Nath! Thanks for the fast comment. I didn't realize that I published my draft as I was working on my impressions of this book. That's why it didn't have a grade yet.:)

    I DID enjoy the book! I loved Verity, actually. She was the best part of this book for me. You know what that means? I'll be reading another UF series. You know I don't read too many because I don't want to get "burned out" on them, and I do try to keep them as different as possible so I don't get bored with the "sameness" of it all. I hope you enjoy it too.

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  3. I've seen a few really good ratings for this book floating around. I'm tempted because it sounds so different! Are you still planning to at least read the first Toby Daye book as well sometime?

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    1. Christine, I think this book is going to get all-around good ratings. It's good -- a good start to the series. The best part is that the main character, Verity is great, and you know that's key to an UF series.

      To answer your question, yes, I'm definitely going to read the Rosemary and Rue. It is already in my TBR pile and I would like to see the difference between the two UF series by McGuire. Plus, it seems to be a "proven" series already.

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  4. Verity sounds like an awesome character! I guess I would love to meet her.
    I'm going to put it on my wish list

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  5. It's so interesting to read a review by someone not familiar with the Toby Daye books! I tried not to compare DISCOUNT to the Toby series, but suspect I was subconsciously doing so anyway... I think the weak point in this book was Verity's relationship with Dominic - I found it predictable and totally agree with your comment about how much she takes his credentials at face value.

    I would love to read your take on R&R when you get around to reading it.

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  6. So HAPPY that I wasn't alone in really liking this book! Verity was delightful and the book had me giggling so much!

    I have to agree with the comment before mine from Li, that having read and LOVED her Toby Daye books earlier this year I couldn't help but compare the two. Although this series is much lighter and way different than her Toby books. Dominic, for me was the weakest character as well. I'm afraid that too has to do with a certain King of Cats from the Toby books ;)..then again it's not fair to compare the two too much since the Toby Daye books are five books deep so far.

    Can't wait to see what you think of Rosemary and Rue, Hilcia!

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  7. Alex, I liked her! She's young and cute. You might enjoy this one.

    Li, this is exactly why I decided to read DISCOUNT first, I didn't want to compare. We agree on Dominic -- I do like him, but there's something odd about him and I'm not just talking about his beliefs. I'm definitely reading Rosemary and Rue soon!

    Negine, I enjoyed the lightness of it! Verity is fun and the best part of the book. *g*

    We all seem to agree about Dominic, although I liked him with Verity. But yeah... we need to know more about him and that will come along eventually, that was a pretty quick attachment for enemies. I hope we find out more about him and his real role in the Covenant soon.
    A King of Cats? I'll probably be comparing HIM to Curran from the Kate Daniels series, lol!

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