Series Review: Indexing by Seanan McGuire

Series Review: Indexing by Seanan McGuireIndexing by Seanan McGuire
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Length: 12 hrs, 5 mins
Series: Indexing #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Paranormal
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

"Never underestimate the power of a good story."

Good advice - especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected - perhaps infected is a better word - by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times best-selling author Seanan McGuire¿s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Because Seanan McGuire has written a couple of my all time favorite series (Newsflesh, October Daye), I set myself the mission of reading (or at least trying) everything she’s ever written (maybe not all the short stories, but the novels/novellas at least). By no means is Indexing a new favorite or McGuire’s best, but it does highlight McGuire’s creativity.

Apparently Indexing originally came out as a serial, and that shows. The book’s a bit repetitive, constantly reminding you what each story code means even once you’ve got it and rehashing the world building. It gets a bit old when you’re reading the novel straight through. However, the world building’s pretty cool. The heroine, Henrietta Marchen, works at ATI Management Bureau, a police force for fairy tales intruding on the “real” world and wreaking havoc.

Fairy tales exist and the narrative tries to enact them. Happy ever after for the tale could mean doom for the everyone else, so the bureau works to minimize the damage or prevent the narrative from playing out in full. Henry’s a Snow White, with the rather terrifying looking skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as dark as coal. Her team also has an evil step-sister (Sloane, who is my fave), a shoemaker’s elf (Jeff), a Pied Piper (Demi), and a person who’s not on the spectrum of tales (Andy).

As usual with McGuire’s work, there’s a lot of really great rep. Andy’s a Black gay man in a committed relationship. Demi’s Latina. There’s a transgender character (who shows up later on in the novel), and who also has a romance. There’s more rep in the supporting cast as well. Unfortunately, the character development is pretty lacking. Sloane’s the only character who really clicks for me and feels fully fleshed. Henry’s so good and hard-working that she’s a bit boring. Demi is a piece of cardboard. A limp one. I want to feel something for the romance between Jeff and Demi, but it nothing for me, despite hitting some tropes that should have had the ship leaving the docks.

The audiobook was the right choice for me on this one. I probably would have DNFed otherwise, because Kowal gives the characters a bit more print than they had in the print version (I read a chapter and then switched to listening).

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Series Review: Indexing by Seanan McGuireReflections by Seanan McGuire
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Length: 12 hrs, 18 mins
Series: Indexing #2
Published by Brilliance Audio on January 12, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fairy Tales
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

“For her to love me, she had to be willing to kill me. Anything else would show that her heart was untrue.”

The struggle against not-so-charming storybook narratives isn’t the only complicating factor in Henrietta “Henry” Marchen’s life. As part of the ATI Management Bureau team protecting the world from fairy tales gone awry, she’s juggling her unwanted new status as a Snow White, dealing with a potentially dangerous Pied Piper, and wrangling a most troublesome wicked stepsister—along with a budding relationship with Jeff, her teammate.

But when a twisted, vicious Cinderella breaks out of prison and wreaks havoc, things go from disenchanted to deadly. And once Henry realizes someone is trying to use her to destroy the world, her story becomes far from over—and this one might not have a happily ever after.

Indexing: Reflections is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s continuing new urban fantasy, where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Reflections offers more of what you got in Indexing, and, while I’d say it’s a bit stronger narratively, it also even has the same villain. This series as a whole is clever in concept but somewhat shrug-worthy in execution.

The good change here is that, though also written serially, the installments now assume that readers are familiar with the set-up, so there’s much less repetition. That one small difference made Reflections rather more enjoyable. Additionally, I do think the stakes are a bit higher here than they were before.

Also, there’s a lot more Sloane in Reflections, and, considering that she’s the only character who comes close to being fully developed imo, that’s a great thing. FYI, I’d been pretty sure Sloane was bisexual or pansexual, but it’s confirmed by the text here, which is awesome. I do wish the whole series had been Sloane POV, but it felt like a quarter to a third of Reflections was her first person POV, and those parts I liked quite a bit.

However, aside from Sloane, I don’t give a shit about any of these characters. Demi’s still aggressively boring. Henrietta I ought to like but I just have nothing. At any point McGuire could have murdered all the team but Sloane and I’d not have had a twinge of emotion about that (and if you read McGuire, you’d know that’s not outside the realm of possibility).

The Indexing series is full of really cool ideas. The world building is excellent, the plots are pretty good, but without attachment to the characters, I’m left feeling somewhat meh about this series.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

One response to “Series Review: Indexing by Seanan McGuire”

  1. I read the first as a serial and it was quite a lot of fun, but I can see where there would be issues in reading it straight through. The world building is definitely my favorite bit of this series too. Super fascinating but you’re right, the characters are definitely meh. Still hoping she writes more though.
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