Changeless by Gail Carriger
|Someday, I'm going to buy all the Japanese books and take off the covers. Then I'm going to a book bindery to get them put on my current copies.|
The third changless/change interplay was controversial when the novel was first released. Some readers were angry, others impressed at Carriger's temerity, to end the second book on a book-chucked-against-wall-in-rage-that-you-don't-have-the-third cliffhanger. And what a cliffhanger.
Alexia and Maccon assume they cannot have children. We are told they cannot, and assume this is how Carriger's secondary world works. Then Carriger sneaks in Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park telling us how nature surprises us. Nature surprises Alexia and Maccon with a pregnancy. But Carriger's not done hitting us with surprises, like Alexia bashing us over the head with a parasol. Maccon accuses Alexia of infidelity, as this clearly cannot be his child. And just when the reader thinks this roller-coaster can't get any crazier, the tracks end, and we plunge into an abyss.
Talk about subverting expectations. If you were expecting a romance, you got none: that happened in the first book, and Maccon was largely absent for most of Changeless. It made me wonder if Carriger could construct a really serious conflict without her characters trying to get together. The finale of Changeless is a slap-in-the-face to conventional romance tropes: conventional romance can't have an unhappy ending. At least, not this kind. This isn't some tragedy where Maccon dies to save Alexia, which is sad, but bittersweet in a Titanic sort of way. No, this provokes hatred towards Maccon for his suspicious nature (which is, yet again, a subversion - isn't it usually the female that's considered suspicious?), and his histrionic reaction, to reject Alexia and render her as another icon of Victorian literature: the fallen woman (which we'll discuss next week with Blameless).
So one wonders what the German reader thinks of the title "Burning Nights" when she gets to the end of Changeless in Deutsch. After all, there wasn't a lot of burning, either pyrotechnic or passionate: marketing is a capricious beast at the best of times, and in this case, a savage werewolf chewing on your horizon of expectations. I at least had a relevant title, and I still wanted to throw the book across the room. My wife, who was nodding off to sleep woke up while I was reading it to her, and demanded to know, "Is that IT? You've GOT to be kidding me."
Which ended me up at a Chapters the next day, buying book three. If it had still been open at 11:30 the night before, I'd have been in the line in my housecoat. Talk about torrid nights.