Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reader's Diary #603- Jeff Smith, illustrated by Charles Vess: Rose (Prequel to the Bone Series)

With my recent review of Crown of Horns, the 9th and last book in the Bone series, I should have felt pleased. Possibly marking the first complete series I've ever completed, I didn't feel closure knowing that there was a prequel lurking out there. A long time ago I finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but still don't consider it complete since I've yet to read the Hobbit. But now I've gone and read Rose, the Bone prequel, and the only satisfaction is that it's all done. It's by far my least favourite of the lot.

Don't be fooled by the cover, drawn by Jeff Smith. Note what it says underneath "Bone": Illustrated by Charles Vess. Jeff Smith's artwork was half the appeal of the original nine books, why mess with a good thing? According to many critics, he didn't mess with a good thing, he made it better. Among Vess's fans are Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, and about a gazillion others. He was even nominated for an Eisner Award for his work on the book. I'm in the minority when I say I hated Vess's illustrations in Rose. I found them boring, pale, and far too traditional and consistent. Smith's were exciting, bold, quirky and a great mish-mash of styles.

Not that Smith is off the hook entirely; the story is also less exciting (granted much of it was alluded to in the other books, so that took away from the suspense) and surprisingly void of humour. And what about the cows? How come people ride horses in this book? Aren't they supposed to use cows to get around?

I've complained before about Tom Clancy's Net Force books. On these you see Clancy's name in gigantic letters on the front, with the real author's name in tiny letters somewhere far below the book's title. On the one hand, Rose isn't that bad. At least Smith did write the story. On the other hand, I like Smith, so I wish he'd done it all by himself. With the Net Force books, the readers should be thankful Clancy didn't write them.

1 comment:

Beth F said...

I didn't love Rose as much as the rest of the Bone books, but I liked it better than you did. I didn't have problems with the artwork.