It’s Hard Out Here for a Human (in Urban Fantasy)

The problem with a series – let’s say, three or more books – is that things change. This is both a curse and a blessing.

As my reading tastes evolve (from BSC to SV, to chick-lit to crime, to urban fantasy to futuristic/dystopian), I read very little UF nowadays. But one of my new favourite series is changing. I really enjoyed the first three books (the fourth will be published in late December, and the fifth in early July 2014), and I adore the lead character. She proves that it’s possible to survive – maybe even thrive – as a human with no strange abilities among supernaturals.

Until I read the summary for the fifth book this week. Apparently, somewhere in Book 4 or Book 5, she becomes supernatural. And I’m disappointed. I’ll keep reading the series, but when what I initially loved about it is gone, I don’t know if I’ll continue loving it the same.

I get it. From a writer’s point of view, it was bound to happen. In order to keep a series going, shit has to go down, and a heroine faces major life changes, for better or worse. This is true of many series, and logically it makes sense for the author to explore new territory from the eyes of a character readers have grown up with.

But emotionally? I feel a bit down, y’all.

It’s common for heroines to become more powerful/gain more abilities as a series progresses:

-Exhibit A: Heroine starts off as only a telepath. Then revealed she has fairy blood, and I think she rooted a weretiger, and I gave up.

-Exhibit B: Heroine starts off as a witch. Later (I’ve only read the first two, but most of the next books are on my shelf waiting to be read), she gets demon-marked.

-Exhibit C: Heroine starts off animating the dead. Then she acquires a condition that means she has to have sex frequently or die, and SHE FARKS A JAIBAIT WERESWAN, and there’s cervix-bumping, and I gave up.

You know me. I’m not one for romance. I prefer believable endings over happy ones. And reasonably, I know why humans in UF become otherwise, whether by choice or by force. But it’s sad. Some say preternatural beings represent outsiders in society. But in UF, it’s the humans who are outsiders – demonised, and abandoned, and attacked. They have rather short life spans.

So if UF is an allegory for real life, what does it say? That if you aren’t special, successful, or powerful, you may as well die. And since I’m a human who lacks specialness, success, or power, that’s pretty freaking depressing.

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4 responses to “It’s Hard Out Here for a Human (in Urban Fantasy)

  1. If you’re looking for consistency in UF where the protagonist doesn’t get “demon marked” or is granted different kinds of powers, I’d recommend reading The Dresden Files, Felix Castor, The Nightside books by Simon R. Green, The Collector books by Chris F. Holm and the Sandman Slim books by Richard Kadrey.

  2. I’d also recommend the Alex Verus (Benedict Jacka) and October Daye (Seanan McGuire) series.

  3. That happened in a series I am reading. The human lead gets turned in book three and I am so bummed. I liked that she was plain vanilla. We need more UF that has a plain human lead or at least one who doesn’t keep gaining powers. Dresden didn’t do it for me either but I’ll look into Sean’s other suggestions.

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