Because Time Travel, I Guess: No Good Deed by Kara Connoly

32766757

Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

Source: GoodReads

I picked up this book, despite its hideous cover because the author has written some of my favorite books (under a different name-Rosemary Clement Moore).  I didn’t particularly like No Good Deed though.  While there were occasional glimpses of the wit that I loved in the author’s other novels,  it was overall a very meh book for me.

It probably didn’t help that I kept comparing it to all of those medieval Disney movies of the week that aired back in the 90’s.

giphy1

Seriously, what was it?  Did Disney like get a good idea on sets and medieval themed costumes?

Regardless, you can’t deny that they tried to style the MC to look like Kiera Knightly on Princess of Thieves.   Which actually came out in 2001, not the late 90’s but whatever.  It’s odd that they decided to style the book as such since the Ellie in my head looked fairly androgynous.

After all, she’s mistaken for male  for a good chunk of the novel without even trying to hide her gender at the beginning of the book-she’s wearing a sweater and relatively form fitting  jeans.  The chick whose posing on the cover, wouldn’t be mistaken as a guy.  And it is mentioned that Ellie has enough of a chest to later have to masker a makeshift sports bra so…maybe they thought her version of Robin Hood had moobs?

giphy3

But digressing…

But seriously, I think it’s one of the worst covers I’ve seen this year.

But this book isn’t about dissecting book covers (well, most of the time).  It’s about talking about the contents of the book and I’m afraid there’s not much to say.  At the beginning of the story, there seemed to be some interesting storylines-Ellie clearly had issues with her father, her brother was missing, and she somehow travels in time.

giphy2

 

Seriously, the time travel itself is never explained it just randomly happens.  ’cause you know, time travel just randomly happens.

I honestly, even wondered why she traveled in time because she kept saying how she wasn’t going to change history.

Trope Rant Time: Why the fuck have a time travel book, if you’re not going to change history.  I’m sorry, I know that some good time traveling adventures where they avoid changing the past (Back to the Future) BUT it just seems like it’s become an unnecessary cliche.

I mean seriously, you traveled through time.  You’re going to change history just by freaking being there.    Besides, how do you know that the history you live in is the right one.  Like, for instance, if I could go back in time before say the election from hell of last year I would be changing history you can bet you ass so that we wouldn’t have the Russian-phile  orange doofus in office and the US wouldn’t currently be the laughing stock of the world right now.

I digress though…it’s just one of those annoying trope that I’ll never get used to. And in this book, when the character is like, “I can’t change history.”

giphy4

I’m like, well, you are by pretending to be freaking Robin Hood, dearie.  I mean, think about it.

Anyway, I’ll never get used to that trope especially since the whole point in freaking time travel is to fuck things about.  But I seriously, don’t think much was changed.  Pretty much the only thing that was changed was the character’s clothes at the end.

I wouldn’t say the book was a complete loss though, not if you liked history.  There was some nice use of historical detail here and there.  I can tell that Connolly researched the novel.  But that’s not really that much of a surprise concerning her other books.  However, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are going to write a book about medieval England be aware that they did not speak modern English.

Modern English did not exist until Shakespeare’s day.  While Connolly acknowledges that it’s difficult for the characters to understand Ellie (but ultimately they do end up understanding her) it should be next for impossible for them to understand her.  Don’t believe me, take a semester of early Brit Lit and then we’ll talk.

After reading Chaucer and all that shit (which by the way was written about a hundred and fifty or so years after this book took place give or take a few decades) I can tell you that I’d have a hard time speaking that shit even then.

What bothered me more though was the  the lack of characterization.

It was just pathetic.  I could care less about these characters as the book progressed.  There’s one guy that I sort of think was suppose to be a love interest, but things never really developed that far and at the end we just sort of have the future look alike trope which I absolutely despise.

Trope Rant: Just because there’s a guy in the future that looks eerily similar to a past love interest does NOT mean that they are the same person.  Ever heard of identical twins, authors.  Thought so, considering everyone and their mother uses the evil twin trope.  But I guess a thousand years of time travel doesn’t mean that genetics randomly made a person look alike a long ago dead relative. No, it means they must share the same soul especially if they share the same name…

giphy5

And honestly, this trope wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was an actual relationship.  But there wasn’t a relationship.  There was just a hint of one, and it was so small you had to literally do a squint bend and snap to see it.  In this case, I feel like it would’ve been better for the novel to go sans romance all together.

The other characters were merely there to serve a purpose to the plot.  I hate to say this, but when I read this book, I actually was thinking that Scarlet did a better job at telling the Robin Hood story, and we all know I had issues with that series.  But no, this book made me want to pick up that series again just because you know even though the characterization sucked, the characters actually served more than means to an end.

Really, the only character who had any development at all was Queen Eleanor (and FYI, YA authors I wouldn’t mind a retelling of a young Eleanor story she is bad ass on multiple levels even though her kids and husband ended up kind of sucking).

It pains me to say that I can’t recommend this one.  I love the author’s other books (in fact, I am tempted to do a reread of some of her stuff soon), but this book doesn’t work for me.   Had it spent more time developing the characters actually explaining why the character went back in time and exploring her life with the characters a bit more, I might’ve cared for it more.  As it stood though, it could’ve very easily been the blah Disney movie of the week.

Overall Review: A C.  It’s not horrible, per say, but I hardly recommend it.  At best it is average.

Too Bad It’s Dim: Into the Dim by Janet B Taylor

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.      Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail,Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

Source: GoodReads

There are so many Outlander plugs for this book it’s sort of hilarious.  Especially when after you read the book and are like book is nothing like Outlander.

Save for the brief Scotland setting and time travel aspect.

The book was NOT what I was expecting to say the least.  I was actually excited when I read that Eleanor of Acquitaine would be making an appearance.  I recently watched this excellent documentary on ACORN called She Wolves and one of the episodes discussed Eleanor.

Eleanor was bad ass.

In this book though…meh.  She’s barely even a significant character.  And Henry the II hardly seems as magnetic as he was described in She Wolves.

Bah.

That isn’t the worst thing about the book though.  What is the worst thing about the book is the main character.

Oh, Hope.

Ugh.

Much like Bella Swan, Hope is just very annoying in general.  She is one of those characters that is pretty much useless, but is told by everyone she’s not.

They’re like:

Oh, Hope, you’re so beautiful and special and it really just makes your eyes want to bleed.

Seriously, this is so 2006.

I am rambling, aren’t I?

At this point, the rambling is more or less because there is nothing to pick at about the Bella Swan “Special” heroine cliche.  It is more or less a big no no in YA.

Complicating matters is that neither Hope or her mother seem endearing.  At the beginning of the book we’re told that Hope was kept away from the neanderthals in her home town becuase she was “special” and her snooty mother home schooled her.

The way that Hope speaks with such disdain surrounding her other relatives astounds me.  There’s one point in the book she tells her father that he’s not her real dad because there’s not a biological between them and I’m like-come  on.

Though to be fair, her father’s a bit of a douche since he dumps her off with relatives she doesn’t know in a foreign country in order to go on a cruise with her new squeeze.

Has he ever seen Taken?

Obviously, not.  And so at this point in this review you’re probably like another YA book with horrible people what else is new.

Anyway, once the book moves to Scotland things start moving-well, not really.  We have a hundred pages of dribble of bad usage of dialect.

Seriously writers, unless your name is Mark Twain do not attempt to use dialect.

Fuck that.

I couldn’t even stand Twain’s writing because I hate dialect.  In fact, the only writer allowed to use dialect is JK Rowling when she’s writing Hagrid’s lines.

Anyone else, screw you.

One of the things I find really offensive about dialect is that it cheapens and generalizes a culture.  Here this exemplified.

I recently started watching a 90’s Scottish TV series called Hamish McBeth.  I can tell that no one in that show talks like the characters in Into the Dim.  Furthermore, adding thou and thus to make the English authentic sounding to medieval English is bull shit.

I can tell you that medieval English was completely different from the English that I am writing right now.  As part of my undergraduate degree I was required to take an early English literature class-Think Beowulf to Milton- and on the first day of class my professor delighted the class by reading parts of Beowulf out in old English (here’s a Youtube link of a reading if it if you’re interested).

Sounded like complete gibberish to me.

The Elizabethan  era is when modern day English really started to make its appearance.  This wasn’t until hundreds of years after Eleanor’s time period.   And anyone who has read Shakespeare knows that this is where all those “thus” and “thou” make an appearance.

So from a schematics perspective, the book failed.

It also failed when it came to the shitty love interest trope.

Any regular reader of this blog knows that I love to ship books.  But there was no way in hell that I could ship the ship in this book.  It was just blah beyond belief.  And just too convenient.   Honestly, the book would’ve been better without the ship with the boy with the weird colored eyes.

There were some things about this one, that might make the sequel interesting to pick up, but I really don’t know if I’m going to do it.  Besides horrible characters, use of dialect, and a boat load of YA cliches, the writing in general was really clunky.

Overall Rating: I’m thinking a C-.  There were some interesting things about Into the Dim, but it did not live up to expectations.  In fact, I really don’t think it was ready for prime time.  Hopefully, Taylor’s next installment in the series will be less clunky and won’t include five thousand mentions of the word lass.