“It’s rare that a story begins at the beginning.”
If you want an introduction to the world of Samantha Shannon‘s The Mime Order, read Nikki’s review of the first book, The Bone Season, which she reviewed pretty favorably. I also liked the book, albeit with quite a few reservations. I liked it enough to read the sequal, anyways, which picks up exactly where the previous novel left off. As in, within minutes of the conclusion of The Bone Season. As an aside, I think it’s borderline obnoxious when authors do that. It’s too disorienting if you haven’t reread the books recently, and also why not just make it one book that is edited a bit better? Anyways…to cut to the very nitty gritty, Paige Mahoney, Dreamwalker Numero Uno, is back in Scion London. She’s trying to raise awareness of the whole Rephaim thang while also trying to assimilate into mollisher life under Jaxon Hall after six months in a voyant prison camp. These two things don’t mix, there are gruesome murders ripping through the world of unnatural organized crime, Paige is being hunted by the Rephaim while trying to hunt down Warden, you get the picture.
So, this book was solidly OK. Shannon’s writing gets the job done, and that’s about all I can say about it. There is nothing fancy about the wordsmithing; her writing is serviceable and mostly clear, just a smidge on the bland side. Her dialogue is downright atrocious; when she isn’t using dialogue as a vehicle for a massive info-dump, she’s making her characters repeat the exact same phrases over and fucking over again. I swear to all that is unholy, if nothing else I will not be reading any more of these books because if Jaxon Hall says “O my lovely” or if Paige refers to Warden’s “burning eyes” one more time I am going to shank a ghost.
As for the narrative, it’s pretty entertaining and moves at a fast clip once you get past a slow start. It’s a whole lot of drama and bickering between the gangsters, with very little Rephaim/buzzer action, which I found a bit tiresome. This lack of Rephaim presence also means that Paige and Warden had very limited page time together, and for some reason Shannon decided to hit rewind and have Paige resentful and mistrusting of Warden again, so that we, the readers, have to retrace old steps towards hot make outs. One of the things I liked best about The Bone Season was the romance between Paige and Warden; I went into it really hating the shit out of it, but the genuine sexiness of their slowly developing trust and regard for each other won me over. The fact that we had to rehash old territory left me feeling grumpy and resentful of the hundreds of pages already spent on this relationship, only to backtrack and have to do it all over again.
I have one more nitpicky thing to say and then I’ll be done. I don’t think Samantha Shannon has ever gotten the shit kicked out of her, and in particular I don’t think she’s ever had a concussion nor do I think she really knows what happens to people when they have concussions or how easily they actually occur. Paige has had roughly 17 concussions over the course of the nine months of these books. Samantha Shannon: she would be a vegetable at this point. She also would not be able to recover from the level of shit kickings she gets on the regular quite so quickly. Take it easy on the poor girl. I know some people might say this is a suspension of disbelief thing, but every time Paige cracked her head on a wall or got knocked out I couldn’t help but think, “Seriously? Another head injury? Break me off a piece of that kit kat bar!” (Get it? Give me a break? Get it?)
So, no, I won’t be reading any more of this series. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly entertaining, and I gave it three stars on Goodreads. I mostly enjoyed it in a very lukewarm way while reading. However, this series is supposed to be seven books long, and Samantha Shannon is not J.K. Rowling; I will only dedicate that much reading time to a series if I love the shit out of it. I liked The Bone Season enough that I was willing to give The Mime Order a try just to see where Shannon was going with it, but this world and this story is not enough to make me want to spend seven books’ worth of time with it.
For music, let’s go with Camille Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre because apparently all Jaxon Hall does in this entire book is say “O my lovely,” drink absynthe, and listen to this song on repeat.