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This Characterization is So Not Working

When did it become de rigueur for all characters in paranormal romance to sound like self-consciously ironic teenagers? I’m not talking about young adult books here; I’m talking about adult — sometimes very adult — romances, with adult characters.

I’m currently reading I’ll Be Slaying You, the second book in the “Night Watch” series by Cynthia Eden. I liked the first book and I’m enjoying this one even more, because the story has a lot of exciting twists and there’s some originality to the vampire mythology. It’s really steamy too, and the lovers are brought together in an unusual way, rather than just mystically fated to be mates.

But check out some of these internal musings, chosen pretty much at random:

Oh, so not what she needed to be saying to Dee.

Okay, yeah, this was one of those moments in life that sucked.

‘he’ll tear you apart… Rip your world away and tear you apart.’ Ah, nice visual.

She’d been shot as a human, could still remember the fiery blast, and didn’t want to go through that again, thank you very much.

Leaving aside the fact that these are all verbal cliches — is there anything that would clue you in that these thoughts are coming from three different characters? The first book was the same: every single person thought in that terse, ironic slang that’s so ubiquitous, I’ve started thinking of it as Paranormal-Speak.  Perhaps I’ve just become more sensitive to it, but I remember the earlier books in J.R. Ward’s “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series as having distinct characters; more recent characters have all have the same internal voice, and they blend together in my mind.

Like I said, I’m enjoying the book. But I have a feeling the series is going to grate on me over time, the same way Ward’s has. Hot vampires and sexy shifters and weird magical happenings are a lot of fun, but to truly love a book I have to feel that even those vampires and shifters are, at heart, real people.

6 Comments »

  • I wonder if it’s lazy writing (using the same voice for every character) or part of the effort to create female “everywomen” for the character so she’s more of a stand in for the reader?

    But since it’s also a very YOUNG voice – and add in that in many Paranormal Romances the female protagonist is usually sexually inexperienced or has limited sexual experience (while the man get to have been shagging away for several centuries) it’s another element of establishing the… not quite “innocence” but, perhaps, “youth” of the character?

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  • It irritates me. There is one author I used to read, who used (and for all I know, still uses) a lot of internal dialogue like that, usually using a lot of sarcasm. It all read the same, and most of it was Mary-Sueish in nature (I know because I happened to know the author, pardon the redundancy). Her books were initially highly amusing, until I caught on that and all of her characters started to become “interchangeable” as they all lacked depth, and read alike. I haven’t read the above, but if the internal dialogue was used like that, I am sure I wouldn’t be particularly happy about it.

    Is the series romance or urban fantasy? or is it romance with strong urban fantasy elements or urban fantasy with strong romance elements? Does each book end on a cliffhanger and involves the same main characters? Am I asking too many questions?

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  • Jeannie S.
    April 26
    1:04 pm

    One of the things that irritates me about the BDB characters is that they can’t say any words with more than 2 syllables. I can’t think of any offhand, but I find it more jarring to read – it just doesn’t flow as easily. It’s as if they can’t be bad ass if they use good grammar. It doesn’t even make sense sometimes. And they seem to be trying a little too hard to be cool. I am almost embarrassed for them sometimes….

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  • Jeannie S.
    April 26
    2:11 pm

    Just to clarify about the 2 syllables – not that they say only 2 syllable words, but they say only the first few syllables. I think someone once said sand instead of sandwich. Sometimes I’m thinking, “Did he really just say that?”. And I don’t always understand the acronyms they are throwing out POS, etc. I sometimes wish she would give a glossary for those terms,.

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  • @Fangs: in the case of Eden’s series — and this is actually something I like about it a lot — the heroines aren’t written as young or inexperienced. They’re strong and pretty much equal to the male characters.

    @Mireya: I would classify the books as paranormal romance. They each have one central couple and end with a HEA.

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  • […] you can tell from the quotes, Lethal Rider is written in what I’ve dubbed “paranormal-speak.” I’m not in love with it, but the storytelling is so excellent in other ways that it […]


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