Thursday, September 13, 2012

REVIEW: The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm

The Wrong Goodbye (The Collector, #2) The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: long review, slight spoilers

Book 2 began ten months after the events of book 1. The effect of those events resonated throughout book 2 where the series' arc continued to hint at a nearing apocalypse.

Book 2 did a pretty good job rehashing the events of book 1 because I felt like I just read book 1. However that might annoy readers who literally did just read book 1.

The Characters

+ Sam
He continued to work that lone wolf, anti-hero persona. Intermittently throughout the story, Sam bugged me because he wasn't using his Collector power to its fullest extent and kept underestimating himself. Sam didn't show me he learned his lessons in book 1. I began to feel indifferent towards Sam by the end of book 2.

+ Lilith
She is Sam's handler. I really wished he took the help she offered, because it would have made things much easier. If he wouldn't fight using his full Collector power, then he should have deferred to Lilith.

Lilith was a compelling character; I wanted more scenes with her. Seeing her throw bodies would have been a true delight.

+ Giordano
I expected that Gio, the temporarily revived mob enforcer, was going to cause unnecessary and exasperating problems for Sam. I thought Gio was going to run away at the first opportunity and resist helping Sam throughout the story. Color me surprised and happy when the musclehead turned out to be actually helpful, truly loyal, and not totally dopey. For a mob enforcer, he was nice.

+ Theresa
The best of thing about Gio was his girlfriend, Theresa. "Lady Theresa" was a sassy, blind, seven feet tall, transsexual, bogus psychic living in Las Vegas. The romance between the couple was sweet... and tragic when I thought about it longer. I had mixed feelings about how very late Theresa was introduced in the story.

On one hand, it was a shame because she was an awesome character and she spiced up the story. If Theresa was there earlier, I believe the story would have been way less dull. Not to mention she would have more time with Gio before he returned to being dead-dead.

On the other hand, I was glad because the series doesn't hesitate maiming or killing off characters based on the casualties in book 1. I didn't want Theresa to get hurt at all.

+ Roscoe
The Texan oil-businessman was minor character but he stood out for me because the story was rather clumsy for making him a comic relief and really clumsy for using him to forward the plot. The guy didn't believe in the supernatural but then he suddenly did during his final appearance — just in time to help Sam find Gio. That scene disconnected me from the story for a few minutes.

+ the antagonists
Charon was convincingly scary. The revelation about him was epic, and the accompanying revelation about the Collectors was an eye-opener

The bad Collectors in book 2 had great characterization. They weren't as scary as Charon or that insane Collector in book 1 but they were powerful and definitely difficult to defeat. Like that insane Collector in book 1, the bad Collectors in book 2 showed the great power Collectors can wield. Collectors may be grunts in Hell's hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do serious damage.

When I compare these Collectors to Sam, Sam seems like an idiot for refusing to use his full power and gather some weapons. How can you fight bad guys if you don’t use everything at your disposal? Sam relied too heavily on his sidekicks and spontaneous sparks of wit.

The Plot

+ the beginning
It started off slow. The long flashback, while engaging, didn't help. Took a couple of chapters for things to set up and the core conflict to get going.

+ the middle
It had some slow moments. I thought things could stand to happen quicker.

The book doesn't do suspenseful scenes well. One such scene was when Sam sneaked into the abandoned hospital. Not to mention that the scene displayed his ineptitude in volumes for not bringing backup, i.e. Lilith.

To be fair, the book did partly compensate by how skillfully the horror element was crafted. The description of "Abby" seriously freaked me out.

+ the ending
Things ramped up once the story introduced Theresa. However, the car chase scene that followed was seriously contrived and served as another example of how poorly the book crafted suspense.

The worst part of the book was the last chapter. I didn't like how the bittersweet ending was done. Sam summarized his goodbye with Gio and Theresa. My HEA-loving side want to believe the couple will have their HEA but my cynical side say I'm just kidding myself. I didn't like the couple's uncertain ending which greatly promised tragedy. I thought the plot took a lazy way out by making the last chapter take place a few weeks after the previous chapter when the group had already parted ways. The last chapter left me raw with emotions and without a decent closure which I loathe.

Then I loathed some more when the ending unnecessary extended itself a few pages for a small cliffhanger.

In Conclusion

I rate book 2 of the series 2-stars for it was okay. I would have rounded it up to 3 stars from the preliminary 2.5 stars were it not for the ending and lack of character growth in the protagonist.

Goodreads | Amazon

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