Reviews: Fool Moon

Doesn\'t Even Have an Excuse to be This Bad

I stuck with The Dresden Files because despite all of the flaws of Storm Front, I identified it as a typical weak first novel with enough good ideas to mature into something better, once the author learns his craft. Now I've just finished the second book, Fool Moon, and maturity still seems to be a distant prospect.

The most striking thing about Fool Moon is just how much smarter the reader is than the characters. We have a crime fighting magician detective who is working to stop a spate of werewolf attacks, and we quickly realise who not to trust and what is really going on, long long before detective Dresden does. We're supposed to see Dresden as this self-aware, intelligent, insightful guy but in reality he is adolescent, stupid and pugnacious to the point that it stretches plausibility that he could have survived this long, even without living in a world full of monsters, gangsters and cops who want to kill him. One thing I remember him saying from the previous book is how a "wizard is all about preparation" - if that's the case, Dresden is a hopeless wizard, as he constantly blunders headlong into fights he can't win, without any plan or tool for the job. Fortunately for him, the villains have the exact same flaw; the final showdown takes place outside a mob boss's mansion, and the mob boss apparently thought it was prudent to employ exactly one bodyguard during a gang war.

The women get it worse. In this book, they can all be charted on two axes: how attractive they are, and how long it is before Dresden gets to see them naked. The only sexy woman in this who doesn't contrive a reason to strip off is Detective Murphy. She is described as "strong" and "tough" but in practise it barely matters. Events contrive to quickly undermine any useful thing she does, or any decision she makes that would make her in anyway self-reliant or independent of Dresden. She's basically another clingy hindrance for Dresden to selflessly protect. Whilst all the women in this are adamant they can look after themselves, Dresden always ignores them (and is usually proven right to).

For me, this was a forgivingly light and marginally entertaining read. If you are thirteen or have a fondness for counter-culture fashion of the late 90s, you'll probably love this book. I've been assured it gets better by the third entry. Or the fourth. Or the Sixth or the Seventh. Right now I'm struggling to see why I should spend so much time waiting for this series to get good when I could be reading from the wealth of other magical realism novels out there.

The Series Begins to Find its Footing

Fool Moon is a bit of an improvement over Storm Front. While admittedly it starts out really slow, and Storm Front in its entirety is better than the second quarter, once it gets to the fight in the Police Headquarters, things really take off. Once you get there, the character development gets better, the action starts reaching new heights, and the humor turns from a mild chuckle to absolutely hilarious. The changes to the concept of werewolves are actually pretty interesting, and it's nice to see another person actually bothering to explore the possibility of a reverse-werewolf, which really needs to get more media attention. Like Storm Front, the book is flawed, but its highs manage to surpass its predecessor, and it sets up an interesting development for the Dresdenverse, one that surprisingly still hasn't completely taken off, but hopefully will soon.
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