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Old 01-19-2017, 11:30 PM   #1
WT Sharpe
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January 2017 Discussion: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (spoilers)

The time has come to discuss the January 2017 MobileRead Book Club selection, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. What did you think?
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Old 01-20-2017, 01:07 AM   #2
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I kind of enjoyed this one. I'll certainly check out the next in series to see how Leslie fared and to see if Nightingail made a full recovery. I read this one on my Kindle and then decided to listen to the audio, which is what I'm doing now.
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Old 01-20-2017, 08:15 AM   #3
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I really enjoyed Rivers of London, despite the stupid American title (Midnight Riot). I am trying to read the second book, Moon Over Soho, but haven't had much time. It starts out much slower than RoL.

I love the humor, and pop culture references sprinkled throughout RoL. I especially like the fact that our Main Character is one, not only of color but multiracial at that.
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Old 01-20-2017, 08:58 AM   #4
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I think both titles are uninspired, myself; equally poor.

I started this when I thought it was going to be the selection a few months ago. When it didn't win and I didn't like it much, I abandoned it; I would have finished it had I only started it now but I wasn't going to start all over again. As a result, I can only offer my broad impressions until I gave up on it.

I loved the depiction of London, which made for a fantasy story thoroughly grounded in reality. I admit I could have done with a tad less about the traffic which got repetitive, but that's a minor quibble. I also, like Nyssa, really liked the mixed-race protagonist who actually came across as mixed race.

But that leads to one of my issues. While I thought the male characters were complex and well-rounded, the female characters all seemed like tropes. Misogyny was bubbling under in the attitudes from the male characters and that was irritating. But it was the river gods that got me. I was interested in the story as it was shaping up, didn't even mind the zombie and vampire aspect, but the spirits went too far. I wanted to know more about the murder, about Nightingale, about learning how to use magic, and the gods were a distraction and not an interesting one. I thought the author lost control of the story at that point and that's when I gave up.

Last edited by issybird; 01-20-2017 at 10:20 AM. Reason: Typos.
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Old 01-20-2017, 09:30 AM   #5
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But it was the river gods that got me. I was interested in the story as it was shaping up, didn't even mind the zombie and vampire aspect, but the spirits went too far. I wanted to know more about the murder, about Nightingale, about learning how to use magic, and the gods were a distraction and not an interesting one. I thought the author lost control of the story at that point and that's when I gave up.
They are why the book is called "Rivers of London". I can see that there might be too much fantasy for someone who doesn't usually read fantasy. But the author hasn't lost control of the story. It's going just where they always intended it to go.

I found the magic and the magical background and characters fascinating. And since I like murder mysteries too, this book was right up my street.
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Old 01-20-2017, 09:33 AM   #6
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While I thought the male characters were complex and well-rounded, the female characters all seemed like tropes.
I'll have to bear that in mind when I re-read it. (As I think I will re-read it sometime). Perhaps I just overlooked that aspect of it. It is true that the two main characters of the series are male, and so have most depth.
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:13 AM   #7
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I give it 3/5. I liked the humor in it (at times it had flashes of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), and I liked Peter Grant's situation at the beginning of the novel (unsure if his career/lot in life is going to improve).

A main issue I had is that I didn't think the characters behaved in a believable way in this world. Sure, you have to have some suspension of disbelief since the whole plot revolves around the paranormal, but these characters were just too accepting of its existence (especially considering up until this case, they were also skeptical).

I also felt Peter didn't react believably at times. He seems so indifferent to Leslie's plight. I mean, her face is a now mess, perhaps forever, and he seems to not have much empathy for this at all.

I also didn't care much for the whole river gods subplot, didn't feel it meshed well with the main murder plot, and especially disliked the way they wrapped up the ending of the book with a trip down time travel lane.

I'm not the biggest fan of paranormal type stories in general, but if these things had been addressed, I think I would've pushed it to four stars, because I do think the writing was decent, I liked the main characters (forgetting the river gods), and there's potentially more interesting things that could be done with them.

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Old 01-20-2017, 10:15 AM   #8
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...I would have finished it had I only started it now but I want gong to start all over again...
Well I suppose you never got your gong then.

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Old 01-20-2017, 10:19 AM   #9
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Well I suppose you never got your gong then.

Too true. I'm gongless.

(#&$*@ autocorrect!)
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:19 AM   #10
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They are why the book is called "Rivers of London". I can see that there might be too much fantasy for someone who doesn't usually read fantasy. But the author hasn't lost control of the story. It's going just where they always intended it to go.

I found the magic and the magical background and characters fascinating. And since I like murder mysteries too, this book was right up my street.
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I'll have to bear that in mind when I re-read it. (As I think I will re-read it sometime). Perhaps I just overlooked that aspect of it. It is true that the two main characters of the series are male, and so have most depth.
I agree with both of your posts.

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I think both titles are uninspired, myself; equally poor.


But that leads to one of my issues. While I thought the male characters were complex and well-rounded, the female characters all seemed like tropes. Misogyny was bubbling under in the attitudes from the male characters and that was irritating. But it was the river gods that got me. I was interested in the story as it was shaping up, didn't even mind the zombie and vampire aspect, but the spirits went too far. I wanted to know more about the murder, about Nightingale, about learning how to use magic, and the gods were a distraction and not an interesting one. I thought the author lost control of the story at that point and that's when I gave up.
Peter's learning of magic is an ongoing process. We learn as he learns, and he is still learning. I actually enjoy that aspect, because it makes him more human. He doesn't go from muggle to Dumbledore overnight (and yes, I loved the shout out to Potter in the book too; it was one of my favorite conversations).

As PD commented, the rivers were the namesake of the book, and play an important role in both the main mystery and Peter's education. I expect to see them throughout the series.

The vampire snapshot was very weird, but it too had a role in Peter learning about magic. I assume there may be other encounters later on, but they're not high on my list.

All in all, I believe this book was the equivalent of an establishing shot in a movie, but wth an interesting, episodic, story as well. I do hope, Issy, that you give it another try one day.
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:26 AM   #11
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I agree with most of what's been said so far.

Another thing I liked is that the tone of the book is started at the beginning. I liked that the witness is a ghost but that wasn't found out until a little later on. The traffic did get a little tedious, but it too played a roll in the story.
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Old 01-20-2017, 11:03 AM   #12
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One more vote here for the original title. Rivers of London made sense on more than one level. Midnight Riot would have been more appropriate for a Thorne Smith book.
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Old 01-20-2017, 11:08 AM   #13
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One more vote here for the original title. Rivers of London made sense on more than one level. Midnight Riot would have been more appropriate for a Thorne Smith book.
I really find it stupid to change things for the US or UK readers when there's no need at all to change anything. It's the publisher saying that we are too clueless to understand what the original title means.
The title Midnight Riot makes little sense.
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Old 01-20-2017, 11:46 AM   #14
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It's the publisher saying that we are too clueless to understand what the original title means.
I think it's more that the publishers thought that a title including the location, "London" would put off US readers.

Rather strange. For fantasy readers in the US, I suspect that "London" would be an attraction.
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Old 01-20-2017, 11:49 AM   #15
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I think it's more that the publishers thought that a title including the location, "London" would put off US readers.

Rather strange. For fantasy readers in the US, I suspect that "London" would be an attraction.
I would find it an attraction to look at the book to see if I might want to read it. I like SF/fantasy books that take place in the real world.

I've read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab because it takes place in multiple versions of London.
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