Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why do I do this shit to myself?

I have a love-hate relationship with Suzumiya Haruhi; when the series is good, it manages to provide substance that belies its moe trappings, genuinely interesting ideas and plots, characters that grow beyond the stereotypes they represent, and Kyon's narration undercuts everything with a constant stream of sarcastic humor. When it is bad -- which is more than half the time -- it is none of those things.
Way back when I was still in Japan, I grabbed the first volume of one of his other series -- this was back when Tanigawa actually wrote things, instead of spending two years with writer's block/sulking about money -- just to see what it was like. I'd even seen someone claim Escape from the School was better than Haruhi. I failed to realize this person was an imbecile.
Honestly, this thing just had so many red flags I did not get around to reading chapter 1. The 35 page intro was more pain than I can handle. This was like some third rate hack trying to imitate one of the bad Haruhi novels -- not even up to that low standard.
Not-Kyon is haunted by the ghost of his dead sister, and because of that he has to attend a school for EMP, which he hates. He has the same sarcastic narration, only without any jokes, and with no effort made to actually get the readers to care about him or identify with him. His sister manages to be... well, she and her twin are on the cover, and that's pretty much all you need to fucking know, but she also appears to spend all her time throwing things at people and terrorizing everyone around him for no discernible reason -- certainly not comic relief, you'd have to be fucking retarded to think shit like being woken up by someone throwing an alarm clock at your head is still funny in 2003, when this relic from an age of hackery was written. Sadly, these two failures were the more successful half of the cast. The other two characters in the prologue were an overbearing idiot prone to pompous speeches, and a classic rich girl snob. By classic, I mean both of these people were so forced it made me physically ill to read their dialogue.
I just don't know. Was Haruhi an accident, which is why he has so much trouble living up to it? If I'd forced myself to keep reading, would he eventually have managed to make it worth my while? I certainly don't have the time or the inclination to find out.
Why even have a god damn prologue, if it isn't to provide an early hook that the natural start of your story would normally miss? I keep coming across this mistake -- if you can't make the start of your book interesting, do not be upset when no one sticks around to find out what else happens. Don't fuck around establishing what is 'normal' in your world -- give me the reason why I'm going to keep reading, then you can step back and lay a few ground rules.


  1. EMP, incidentally, means they all have poorly defined superpowers. He literally goes to the trouble of explaining that scientists have been studying them for thirty years without finding any sort of guiding principle or logic behind them, which I took to mean he was too lazy to bother coming up with any rules.
    Normally, I would applaud that, but since he showed no imagination whatsofuckingever in demonstrating these powers, I selectively chose to criticize it instead.

  2. I have 3 of these books, but haven't touched them yet. Thanks for ruining them. :(