walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Made to be Broken_, Kelley Armstrong

Second in the Nadia Stafford, Canadian, lodge owner and hitwoman with scruples series. The crew is back: Evelyn has a new idea for Stafford, an organization that makes the punishment fit the crime would like to hire her. But Nadia and Evelyn aren't getting along so good, and besides, Nadia's annoying employee has been murdered and her baby has gone missing. The circumstances lead Nadia to investigate similar crimes and discover a ring of baby-snatchers who identify young mothers on the margins of society, murder them, take their baby and either adopt it themselves or farm it out to people having trouble satisfying their adoption needs through more official channels in exchange for Lots o' Cash.

There are a variety of problems with this, which I'll get back to in just a moment. However, in case anyone thinks the idea that (a) people might pay extra for babies who have, incidentally, been (b) kidnapped from their loving parents might want to read this:


Or watch the Frontline episode it refers to, I suppose.

One of the problems with the Armstrong novel is the sheer, mind-bending stupidity of the main character, which I think is intentionally created on the author's part (that is, I don't think Nadia is a moron because Armstrong is a moron). Her willingness to introspect or pay any attention to her inner self and basic motivations is not merely lower than average. It is, effectively, non-existent. This gives Armstrong a lot to work with: an otherwise ridiculous triangle between Jack, Quinn and Nadia can be dragged out over hundreds (hey, at this rate, it'll be thousands) of pages and even Evelyn can get in on it; Armstrong can send Nadia off to kill an apparently innocent guy more worried about resolving her image of herself as a "pro" with whatever scruples she may or may not have, when Nadia _really_ ought to be worrying about whether Evelyn is setting her up. Or the client is a cop. Or whatever. I would mention that it goes on, but why?

The other problem with the novel is that it takes an annoying reality (white suburbanites who feel like they deserve someone else's healthy white baby, even tho they're basically crappy people who, incidentally, can't reproduce or at least not together) and confuses it with a really serious problem (babies being kidnapped to adopt out to white surburbanites who can't reproduce). It's like confusing poor women who have a lot of babies and collect social support so we don't have to watch them starving on the streets with a structural deficit caused by bad tax policy and military spending. Yes, babies are being kidnapped. But the victims probably aren't teen mums on the margins -- the victims are often functioning, happy families in very poor areas in other countries. Yes, people are adopting those babies. But the reason they are adopting those babies probably _is not_ because dad is shooting blanks and doesn't want his wife to use someone else's sperm to get knocked up. For one thing, artificial insemination is crazy cheap (in money, time, effort, etc.) compared to adoption, even without the illegally kidnapped markup, and if there's one thing you learn quickly from reading about people whose efforts to reproduce in the ancient way have not been successful, it's that economic considerations are key.

Will I read more? It depends. As long as these are available on the kindle for cheap enough, there's a strong likelihood that I'll continue reading just to find out what happens next. But I'm hitting a point with Armstrong where her basically conservative belief-set is moving from annoying/disturbing to unnerving. Another couple of books and I'll be unloading everything I ever bought and, around the same time, I'll quit buying more.

Hey. I've done it before. I haven't read LKH in a while. _Acheron_ has resulted in all my Kenyon heading out the door. The first Morganville vampires book by Rachel Caine was so unreadably bad, I finally fizzled out on the Weather Wardens series. I'm in the process of unloading a lot of Lori Foster (altho I still have great affection for the Winston-and-spinoff series). Once upon a time, I just stopped reading backwards in an author's oeuvre when it started to irritate me; only very occasionally did an author annoy me more and more as they developed (altho that, too, has happened -- I gave up on Neal Stephenson a while ago, sadly). I'm not sure precisely what's going on, but I seem to be abandoning authors lately at a shocking rate.

Should I blame it on turning 40?
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