2012: January in Review Part II (or the one that ends up just being about the Dresden Files)
This collection of reviews just happens to be the Dresden Files, and nothing but. I'd decided to split the posts in half for the rest of the month, and it just happened to work out this way. So yeah, I really like the Dresden Files, and got a pretty big kick out of these.
Changes by Jim Butcher
And we return to the Dresden Files. If there was ever a book whose title completely and totally describes the book within, this qualifies. Changes is where Butcher takes everything that has happened to Harry Dresden over the past eleven books and throws it in a blender.
It's extremely hard to talk about this book without spoiling anything for either this volume, or for earlier books in the series, so I'll keep this brief and (hopefully) spoiler free. All the characterization that has been building for so long reaches a head in this book, and completely alters the dynamics and world around Harry and his friends in a way that there's no looking back. Butcher takes every single one of the many constants that Harry has always had (think about anything that is in just about every single Dresden File book to this point) and either blows it up or changes it so that it was different than it was before.
This book is fantastic, and easily my favorite of the Dresden Files books. Butcher's literary abilities have approved by leaps and bounds over the course of the series, and this is where he really shines.
Ghost Story Jim Butcher
Then we arrive at the last published book of the Dresden Files, lucky number 13. This is the first of the series that
I literally "read" (as opposed to listened to), due to the fact that the narration changed to someone besides James Marsters. I'd have no problem with that if he hadn't done the previous 12 books, but that is neither here nor there.
It was actually pretty nice reading it in print (or eprint, whatever), as far as studying Butcher's writing style. This book is completely different from anything else in the series, which is obvious due to the furball that Harry had gotten himself into in the last book. Again, this book is almost
impossible to talk about without massive spoilers, so I'll refrain. With that in mind, this book features Harry, Chicago, and the rest of the gang in positions and situations that none of them have found themselves in before. It's all different, and it's all completely crazy.
The book ends on a cliffhanger almost as big as the one at the end of Changes, and I seriously cannot wait for the next one. One of the biggest strengths of this series, and of Butcher's writing, is the way that the characters constantly are growing and evolving. Nothing is static, everyone is learning from their mistakes and that is especially true in Ghost Stories. I really, really want to see where Harry goes next.
Side Jobs Jim Butcher
I originally had decided to not bother reading Side Jobs, because a short story collection that didn't really add
to the overall story arcs of the characters didn't sound interesting to me. Then I finished Ghost Stories and saw that book number 14 hadn't been announced yet, so out of desperation I picked this one up on Audible.
So yeah, it's a collection of short stories spanning the entirety of the series, from the first time that Harry and Murphy meet (back when he's an apprentice PI), all the way up to about six hours after the cliffhanger ending of Changes. It's a good collection, and fills in some gaps that were alluded to in the main novels, but never really explained (example: the wedding of Billy and Georgia and the hijinx that entailed).
It's fun, but aside from a few stories (Murphy's especially), nothing important happens and most are just good clean fun. It's a decent diversion while we wait for Cold Days to come out, but doesn't really meet my expectations for the series at large.