Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie is a story about revenge and boy does the author reiterate that point every chapter so best get use to that word. The author is well known for his First Law trilogy but I personally didn’t read it. I did however read The Heroes and came out disappointed. In that book, the main focus or theme was on highlighting how “war” is ugly rather than what we have here on “revenge”. After stopping halfway through in Best Served Cold, I think I’m going to stay away from this author. It’s just that the book has absolutely nothing that grips me as a reader. It seems as if there is no point in reading the book, especially one this size, when things are predictable and the characters do the same things over and over again. Sure, authors all over do exactly that in their books and can still be a joy to read but sadly, this author does not belong in that category. I’m wondering if the book couldn’t have been edited to be half as long just to spare some readers the agony.
WARNING: I’ve only managed to complete around 50% of the book before giving up. Continuing on would have been a hazard to my own health and sanity.
First of all, the story. You want something simple? Try this out. A brother and sister couple were betrayed by their lord and were killed in cold blood. However, the sister somehow survives and she’s out to get revenge on the 6-7 people who were in on it. Heard of all this before from somewhere? Well of course you have. At best what this story includes of is Monza and her crew going from location to location plotting out how to best murder certain individuals on her hit list. Once that succeeds, they immediately flee the area and travel to a new location. Rinse and repeat, or least up to the point I stopped caring.
The characters in this story is one of the book’s biggest downfall in my eyes. You hardly can care about any one of them. That’s right. Not one. Not even Monza, the female protagonist. It’s really hard for readers to cheer for her in her adventure for revenge when she’s hardly considered the girl scout prior to all of this happening. Her crew consists of killers and criminals alike who are only in it for the money. All of this doesn’t really matter because again, I hardly cared for any of them. That doesn’t making reading very much fun. Character growth seems lackluster and I’m not even sure if you can call it that. The relationship between Shivers and Monza is just devoid of any feeling. The author just had to put it in there or how else will he expand on the meek story line as it already stands? There’s just no connection between the two.
Another major reason why I disliked this book so much is how the author focuses too much on just one side of the coin. Up till the point I stopped reading, the entire book focused on Monza and her ragtag band. Right in the beginning, you find out that Monza is out for revenge yet throughout this monstrous tome of a book, the author fails to make the reader care. Why not focus a bit on the actual “bad guys” like Orso or his sons and switch to their point of view? As it stands, all you know is that Monza is out for revenge and the other guys are the bad guys because the author tells you so. You don’t get to make that decision yourself. If you’re not going to focus on both sides of the coin, then shorten the book! There is no point in me reading pages after pages in the book on why it is the bad guys need to be killed and the justification for it when I don’t get to hear both sides of the story. In other books, authors no doubt try to get readers emotionally attached to the bad guys so that when they are finally killed, you either whoop for joy or think things through and realized that the author shouldn’t have done that. Whatever the case, it gets you the reader to be emotionally involved. Not so here. Killed a bad guy? Cool. Now let’s have a big intermission with pointless gibberish talking between the characters before moving on to the next target.
If there is one redeeming quality to the book, I can say that the author does a pretty good job at building the surroundings for his characters. There’s a very grimy and drab atmosphere that suits the story very well. But that’s about it as far as compliments go.
I know that this was a very negative review from start to end but that’s how I exactly felt throughout my entire time reading this book. In the beginning, things started out decent. I was just waiting for the author to expand on things but when I realized that that wasn’t going to happen and reading page after page after page of pointless conversations just to see the slider mark go up by one percent, I knew it was going to be a rough ride. At about 50%, I just couldn’t bring myself to continue on. This author will most likely not make it to my “to-read” list again.