Posted on | January 17, 2012
tl;dr: If you’re a man, or a writer, don’t read this. Just… don’t. I can’t speak for women who don’t write.
A friend of mine recommended the Cat Star Chronicles to me a long time ago. After all, I write catboy/catgirl smut, I should be able to enjoy some of it. So let me say off the bat that I tried, I really did, to enjoy the second book, Warrior, and in that I have failed utterly.
Here’s your basic plot: In a science-fictional universe, our heroine lives on a world that has turned its back on technology. She knows her world has a starport, but nobody goes there, and in fact people teach their children that the stars, indoor plumbing, books, vaccinations, and decent communications are for crazy people. Sane people lead, and subject their children to, short, brutal lives in a sub-gunpowder world of furs and swords. She’s also a “witch,” which is the author’s poorly-reasoned shorthand for someone with psionic powers, including talking to animals and setting stuff on fire. A supporting character drops off the romantic hero– a cat-man supersoldier who’s ill with an unspecified problem. The witch is supposed to heal him, at which point the supporting character will come back and claim his slave.
I fully believe Cheryl Brooks is a woman, rather than a man masquerading as one. And as a man, I was offended from the very first sex scene: his penis is large, prehensile, knubby in just the right way, and worst of all, exudes a pre-seminal fluid, the scent of which is a perfect aphrodisiac to humans, and the taste of which induces orgasms. It’s wish-fulfillment of the worst sort. Every sex scene thereafter is built upon these premises; our characters aren’t so much in love as she’s addicted to opiates he exudes.
After their mutual compatibility is established, the supporting character comes back to reveal that something terrible has happened, and he needs the unified tracking skills of the witch and the cat-man to right a terrible wrong. What follows from this is a far, far too wordy journey through the snow to a distant keep and a final battle. Worse, the witch character, despite her rejection of all things technological, has the Weltanschauung of an American coastal liberal who’s never thought too hard about her ethical and moral choices. She talks and she talks, often in tell-don’t-show form, to the reader and the characters, pointlessly retreading the same ground in chapter after chapter. The epilogue is a piece of breathless, “Reader, you won’t believe what happened next!” nonsense. I kept re-wording whole scenes in my head to show myself that important plot points could be revealed in dialogue and action without “as you knows” in front of them. An experienced writer could have done it easily.
Cat Star Chronicles: Warrior reads like an ex-valley girl hauswife decided to write something vaguely like the Kushiel series, only without education, voice, or wit. If you’re a man, you’ll be insulted by the hero: He’s a cardboard cutout with a massive strap-on dong dripping a mixture of Astroglide and meth. If you’re a writer, you’ll just be insulted.