Monday, January 25, 2010

Sins of the Father by Anna O'Neill

TITLE: Sins of the Father
AUTHOR: Anna O’Neill
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 13k)
GENRE: Historical gay romance
COST: $2.50

At nineteen, Sanada Sora is a new captain, learning firsthand that controlling his team doesn’t always work as he’s been taught. Takeda Kaname is ten years older, and as his partner, frustrates Sora from the start, not just because of his refusal to follow protocols but because of the attraction Sora doesn’t want to admit even exists…

I bought this book the day it was released for a whole host of reasons – one of the most gorgeous covers I’d seen in a long time, a setting I knew nothing about but still intrigued me, and an excerpt that followed through on the promise of action and intrigue suggested in the blurb. But when I was done, I found myself wondering what I’d been sold, and where along the path I’d gone astray. I very much feel that I’m missing something with this short story, whether it’s because it’s directed at an audience with some kind of prior knowledge I fail to possess or something else. As a result, it’s impossible for me to give it any sort of honest recommendation.

The intrigue hinted at in the publisher’s blurb and with the excerpt is resolved – rather annoyingly, actually – by the end of the first chapter. There’s then a time and space jump, in a world already not clearly defined, that feels like a brand new story all over again, one where I’m forced to be reintroduced to the characters and their motivations because they already feel so different from the first chapter. This never really stops. The story trips along, introducing characters out of nowhere like they have more significance than the story suggests – like Yuki, who comes on in chapter four like he’s been there the whole time, except he hasn’t been. Then, just as it seems as if I’m going to start getting some depth and answers to what is really going on between Sora and Kaname, the story takes an abrupt left turn and ends. I was literally left blinking at my screen, thinking, “That’s it?”

Is it because the story has influences – like yaoi – that I’m ignorant of and don’t understand? I don’t know. I don’t read yaoi, or books that look to be yaoi-inspired, mostly because the majority of them seem to have androgynous heroes, an archetype that has never really appealed to me all that much, so I can’t honestly answer that question. It begs the next one, though, and makes me wonder if there’s something about Japanese culture I’m missing that would explain the piecemeal nature of the story. But if that’s the case, isn’t it the author’s job to adequately depict the world in such a way so as not to exclude a portion of the audience? I don’t understand or enjoy stories that require outside information in order to fully appreciate (which is another reason I loathe coming into series halfway through, it’s like only having part of the story and watching from the outside as the insiders enjoy the joke).

So I don’t know what to say except I didn’t enjoy it.

Oh, and absolutely gorgeous cover.


6/10 – So much jumping around and so many holes in character motivations had me feeling lost for most of the story

Hero #1

5/10 – Innocent, but that’s really about it

Hero #2

5/10 – I wanted to like him more, but there are so many questions about who he is and what he does that I never felt like I knew him

Entertainment value

4/10 – The whole story felt like I was missing out on insider details

World building

6/10 – A lot of terminology but to someone who knows nothing about the place or period, nothing to give the story any kind of roots



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