Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Week in Trashy Reads # 11

Trashy Read #11: Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon, by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Warning: This Trashy Read was not a romance, but it's something I feel guilty for reading nonetheless.

TV and movie tie-in novels are supremely weird things. They attempt to add to a pre-existing story without really adding anything at all. They can't add to a plotline or develop character because the book itself exists outside of the original story's "canon." So in the end, they exist in a weird void where you can read them and maybe enjoy them, but they are completely empty. It's like eating empty calories.

A couple months ago, I read another tie-in novel for my favorite terrible TV show, Supernatural. It was absolutely awful. The writing was bad, the copyeditor did a half-assed job, and the plot was ridiculous. So why on earth did I pick up another one?

I picked this book up for the same reason that I devour Supernatural fanfiction so greedily: The show implies that there's a lot going on in the characters' past and present that we don't see, and I can't help but feel a need to fill in the holes. Part of the enjoyment of a really good series (whether it's a TV show or a book series, like Harry Potter) comes from using your imagination to fill in those holes. But occasionally, it's nice to see what other fans are imagining, too. Unfortunately, unlike fanfiction - which by the anonymity of the internet can take huge steps outside canon and create new plotlines, characters, and insights - published books blessed by the show creator cannot do the same. Which makes for some pretty unexciting reading.

So this book was hardly a work of great literature. But it was waaaay better than the last Supernatural book I read. I won't bore you with the plot. If you don't watch Supernatural (and really, why would you?), you won't understand what I'm talking about anyway. The book did attempt something new, though, by adding storylines that included the main characters' family members in the past (people whose histories we only get glimpses of in the show). I admired that aspect of the book.

In the end, I enjoyed the book well enough to finish it (admittedly, part of this is due to my desire to imagine the goodlooking leads doing anything, even just walking across a room...). But was it a good read? Heck no. It was a lot like drinking Diet Coke - getting only a taste of something I like better in its original form.

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