Mar. 13th, 2014

piranha: red origami crane (orizuru)
this is book 3 in the falls chance ranch series of free, online reads, available in the authors' blog:

at the start of the book dale is away from the ranch for a month on his first real project since his breakdown, which brings back a lot of the stress and unfortunately derails his recovery. upon returning to the ranch so his family can help pick himself up again, he continues seeing strange and sometimes scary events around the ranch, and the vivid nightmares get worse and worse. not knowing whether the events he sees while awake are a product of his own anxiety or a mystical connection to the past, his analytical mind cannot leave this unsolved problem alone, and he keeps following the clues to a spiritual place on the ranch called "mustang hill", a clearing in the woods where nothing grows, petroglyphs are carved into rocks, and something intangible seems to haunt the place, ready to attack. of his partners, jasper is the only one who also senses some of the things dale experiences on mustang hill, and helps him explore their meaning.

unfortunately this book has 2 strikes against it for me right off the top -- domestic discipline, and sorta-native-american mysticism. i have complicated feelings around appropriation and this hits them right smack in the middle and i felt uncomfortable the entire time. not the discomfort of "you really ought to examine your own preconceptions here", like i feel about the domestic discipline, but discomfort with the myth of oppressed people being used by someone not of those people to elevate a character also not of those people. using 9-11 is alas another half strike. it's not the authors' fault, there's nothing wrong with the storytelling, the authors strike me as sensitive and tolerant and thoroughly well-meaning, and the story is potentially a very touching one for somebody not-me, but i am desensitised and allergic due to years of cold-blooded exploitation by american politicians, and the unrelenting erosion of civil rights in its wake. which reminds me: dear ranger & rolf; please do not use "politically correct" in your books unless you actually WANT to sound like american rightwing nitwits. people who use it over here usually have problems with empathy, and consider it a bleeding-heart liberal weakness. they would hate the people in your books for being deviants in every which way, and a little spanking would not reconcile them. eradicate the term from your vocabulary; you'll be better off.

all that said (just blurt it out, dale), i actually found dale's development very interesting even though it is partly headed in a direction i can't relate to, and i was glad to see jasper show more of himself (even though the character of jasper makes me uncomfortable (see appropriation)). i also don't quite grok how jasper got into DD; it seems to make absolutely no sense to me from looking at his beliefs.

it's quite a fascinating journey, and has a bit of a mystery feel to it, which really attracts me. and i am clearly too tired to do this review justice, so for now, this is it. it sounds more negative than i actually feel; i still love the series, i still love dale, i can't get enough of reading about him. the love and affection that runs through these books -- not just for people alive today, but for people of the past, their culture and history, and the land on which they lived -- is wonderful, heartwarming, and inspirational.


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

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