The Lightning-Struck Heart

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Lightning-Struck Heart
T. J. Klune, 2015

Premise: A magician's apprentice balances his growing power with his ridiculously huge crush on the captain of the guard.

I read this book on a friend's recommendation, and if I hadn't, I might have quit halfway through the first chapter. As it was I did finish reading the book, and I did somewhat enjoy it by the end, but it's really not my thing overall.

Mostly, the humor is really not my style. I hesitate to call it unrealistic because it is the way that, in my experience, some flamboyant gay men speak to each other. Specifically, the dialogue is often almost entirely composed of superficially cruel teasing, sexual innuendo, and extremely graphic sexual humor. I found this especially distracting because it wasn't just a characteristic of the main character and his friends, but nearly all characters at one time (or at most times) spoke this way. This included the main character's parents, politicians, villains, and the king. This meant that most of the characters sounded much the same.

It also took a long time for the main romantic plot to grow on me. The book spends a lot of time assuming that you will accept that the main character deserves the love interest because he is attracted to him. It later becomes clear that they are attracted to each other, but it takes a long time for anything more to grow there. Also everyone, and I mean everyone, is attracted to the main character for no discernible reason. And comments on it. At length.

The plot doesn't go anywhere unexpected, but if you're mentally categorizing this as a romance, that could be fine. But it kept bothering me to think of it as a romance, and it took me a while to figure out why. It's because we never get the love interest's point of view. This is also why the central romance felt so one-sided and unapproachable to me.

The book is meant to be a somewhat farcical romp, but the fact that I didn't enjoy the humor meant that my brain was constantly considering questions and plot holes. Questions like why in a country that completely accepts homosexuality and gay marriage would you still have a hereditary monarchy, especially where the heir to the throne must marry but does not apparently need to produce children?

There are some poignant scenes and some character growth by the end of the book - enough to keep me reading to the end. However, I doubt I'm going to read anything more by this author. It's not necessarily badly written (although I would argue that the dialogue sameness is an issue); it's just really not my taste.

2 Stars - an Okay Book

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