Rating: 1/hated (1-5/hated-loved)
This isn't the book I wanted to read. However, any book I read after a "Best book ever!" book suffers from "This sucks because it's not [best book ever]", so I didn't want to read the book I'm really looking forward to (loupnoir's Informatzia). The Flesh Cartel series has previously annoyed me, and I didn't expect to enjoy its conclusion, so it seemed the perfect book to read next.
Initially, my biggest problem with The Flesh Cartel wasn't the story or the writing: It was the pricing scheme. It's released "book" (chapter) by "book", each book costing $2.99. For that $3, you got about 20-30 pages of story and 20-30 pages of nonstory (6 pages of "about the authors" crap, advertisements for other books, review of previous books, and most boggling: a multiple-page summary of what was coming in this current book/chapter). This series had 19 chapters in it, so let's look at the math:
At an average of 25 pages of story per chapter, you'd get a total of 475 pages of story.
At $3 per chapter, you'd pay $57 for the entire story.
475 pages is a fair number of pages for a book. $57 is an insane, 'gouge your readers' price. I kick myself that I paid for the first four or five chapters (know the last time I spent $12-$15 for a fiction ebook? Never!). I will never, ever give these authors another penny of my money.
I'm all for authors making a living, but there's a difference between profit and bleeding your readers dry. So, while I don't like to do it, I pirated the chapters after those first 4-5 that I paid for. (But, again, I already paid them $12-$15, way more than any ebook costs.)
Anyway, in these final chapters, I had big giant issues with the story. To backtrack/review: This series is about human slavery (the kinky/sexual kind, not realistic/historical stuff). In the first chapter, the two main characters (brothers) are captured and sold into slavery. In the book's version of reality, there's a whole sexual slavery network through the world, with actual slave-training houses and such. Most of the book is PWP (Plot? What Plot? / Porn, What Plot?), it's not until these final chapters that a plot showed up.
So let's say you write a book and market it towards sexual slavery. You release 15 chapters, the majority of them sex or sexual, about all the kink surrounding that subject. You know what you're selling your readers and your readers know what they're getting. So why, oh why, would you... [Spoiler for the plot. I only grudgingly put it behind a cut. Read the spoiler text. Don't buy the chapters and read them!]
have the last four chapters be a police bust of that whole network? All the masters we got to know thrown into prison. Slaves we knew and love killing themselves because they spent their entire lives as slaves and now can't cope with being free/away from their masters? And even worse than that, a whole plotline about how one of the brother/slaves has a relationship and falls in love with the lead cop on the case (which of course leads to the god-awful plotline of "Woe, he could never love me for I am damaged goods!").
It felt like 1) the authors just wanted to keep extending the story to continue to make money, and 2) like they had no idea why people were reading to begin with. (Though it's possible that I'm the odd man out here: Maybe most readers would want that to happen? But why, if you read a book series for X, would you want there to be no X at the end of the story?)
Anyway. I'm glad to be done with that story. In the beginning I did enjoy it ('breaking and rebuilding people' is probably my most favorite story element ever), but in the end it turned out to be nothing but a disappointing conclusion and a money-grab.
I'm one of the last people to see Guardians of the Galaxy, but yesterday I finally did. The beginning was really rough. I was having an emotionally down day and was expecting the movie to be funny -- the first couple minutes (the scene with his mother) were neither what I expected or wanted, and ended up crying. However, once I got through that, I loved it so much! I had heard so many good things about it, I had worried my expectations were going to be too high, but it lived up to them and more.
Even for such a light-hearted movie, it had great emotional moments in it. Also, I was surprised at how well Rocket worked for me (originally I had thought I wouldn't even see the movie because... talking raccoon? Really?). And Groot of course. And that final pre-credits scene! :D
Rare is it that I have zero issues with a movie. Other than that first scene (which I can't really count against them -- HOW DARE THE WRITERS NOT KNOW THAT WHEN I WATCHED IT ON 11/23/14, I'D BE HAVING A BAD DAY?!), there was not one thing I'd change about it. And heck, I wouldn't even change that first scene, because it really was important.
Loved the music. Loved every single characters. So many familiar voices! (Michael Rooker/Merle from Walking Dead drove me crazy half the movie trying to remember who he was! I knew he played 'racist southern character', but couldn't remember which one.)
Just such a fun, wonderful movie. I'm glad I finally saw it.