06 January 2011

Take Two Review -- Side Jobs

Introducing a new feature here on Word Nerd, the Take Two Review. Stacie and I often read the same things, but our perspectives may be slightly different so we're not going to deprive you of a second viewpoint.

So, here we go. New thing.

Side Jobs by Jim Butcher, Take Two
First Reviewed on Word Nerd: Dec. 14, 2010 and the novella, Backup, Jan. 12, 2009.
Bethany's Take: I could likely go on and on about how much I love the Dresden Files. I could talk about the converts new fans I've encouraged for the series.

I'd read two of the stories in the collection before ("Backup" and "Last Call") but had no trouble reading them again. What struck me reading the collection was the way Harry's changed over time and the way he hasn't changed.

In the very first short story, Harry's protecting a kid. In multiple other stories, Harry's protecting kids or women or other people who are just generally innocent. That part of Harry's character doesn't change.

In the first story though, there's a sense that Harry doesn't really want to have to fight. He'd rather just avoid confrontation. While in later stories he's not looking for confrontation, he's willing and ready to fight and doesn't back down. The result is, he's getting in fights all the time. He even offers in "The Warrior" to kill a guy instead of letting Michael Carpenter do it. In the early stories, Harry would never even think of killing a guy outright. This is definitely a change in his character throughout the stories.

Because the stories range between the whole series, the changes in Harry are more readily apparent than the changes over time and the gradual development laid out over the course of a dozen books.

Favorite story in the bunch? "Love Hurts". It's finally a glimpse of what Harry and Karrin Murphy might be like together, but of course, we're denied that again at the end.

Second favorite, "Backup." Thomas is one scary-as-hell-and-still-sexy character. His internal struggle is amazing and Butcher manages to write him in a first person POV that sounds different than Harry.

I can't say it's my third favorite, exactly, but the "Aftermath" story told by Murphy that's set just at the end of Changes is also incredible. Harry's missing -- presumed dead -- but Murphy won't accept that till she sees the body. But, when trouble comes knocking, Murphy and the Alphas (Harry's werewolf pals) take up Harry's crusade against Bad Guys. Still, a world without Harry...

All told, Butcher keeps up his streak of spectacular books. There's more than one wizard named Harry and as legions of Potter-fans grow up, it's Chicago's wizard they should turn to for magic-slinging fun.

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