ARC REVIEW: Discount Armageddon

Seanan McGuire
Discount Armageddon (InCryptid #1)
DAW
ISBN-10: 0756407133
ISBN-13: 0756407131
Urban fantasy
March 6, 2012

Blurb via Goodreads:

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night… The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family’s old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone’s spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city…

I received the ARC for this one not long before Christmas 2011 – hello, awesome present! I finished it up right around New Year’s. People. People, listen. Look, this is a really good book. I’m just going to say that I just about loved it to pieces, like the kinds of pieces one gets when they hug something breakable with super human strength and, oh, oops, there I went and broke that awesome thing. Guess it’s a good thing this wasn’t on the Kindle, then. Paperbacks are actually pretty forgiving when it comes to ridiculously overzealous hugs.

A quick, minor note on the cover – I remember hearing a few grumbles about the cover a while back, namely because of the heroine’s dress, pose, etc. It’s actually an accurate depiction. A reason for a plaid pink skirt, stockings – those shoes? The weapons? And her minimalistic top? Oh yes. It’s a beautiful thing, trust me.

There’s a few things I realized I almost desperately needed and/or loved after reading this book:

Sliding my legs out the window, I pushed off from the windowsill and fell into the dark.

1. Verity Price’s unabashed love of leaping over tall buildings with little to no effort. Sure, she worked hard at building up the momentum and speed and courage (not to mention complete loony bin brains) necessary to do this while training with her siblings, but it’s practically a major genetic trait that roars through her family. OK, so not an actual genetic trait, that was just a slight exaggeration. Still – I could not stop my grins of delight every time the woman just casually steps off a damn building or takes a wall with some flimsy fire escape at a dead run and ends up on top of New York City.

I myself would develop the two biggest left feet in the history of left feet and merely plummet to my death. Would make for a boring ass book. To say the least DAMMIT CHILD. (Sorry, kidlet got out of bed for millionth time, I corralled her back to bed – good times. DAMMIT CHILD might appear in more reviews in the future.)

Life as the chosen religious figure for a colony of cryptid mice can be a lot of things, but it’s definitely never boring.

2. Aeslin mice. I’m a little afraid of explaining these too much; you should really experience them as much as possible for yourself. Suffice to say they are rodents, they are mighty and they shout, “HAIL!” upon seeing Verity. A lot. They are some of the best comedic relief I’ve ever had the pleasure of chortling at. Just picture it, three-inch-tall pillars of never ending enthusiasm – FOR YOU. They reminded me instantly of those furry mini aliens of Locker C18 in Men in Black II, which in my opinion is always a good thing.

“Remember, Very,” Dad used to say when I whined about the goggles, “if your opponent has night vision and you’ve never bothered to learn the local landmarks by anything but sight, you’re going to be in a bit of a pickle when it’s time to avoid getting disemboweled.”

3. Verity’s family. They aided in making Verity what she is, which is one of the most unique and funny and kick-butt heroines I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Even though we don’t see a whole whole lotta her fam, they are irresistibly interesting people. And it just so happens you can get a short story about some of them for free from the author.

“I assure you, ma’am, your capture was not my intention.”

–Dominic De Luca upon setting Verity Price free of a snare.

4. The romance. It’s not overbearing. It doesn’t turn Verity into a poor, pitiful woman entirely dependent on the hero, Dominic De Luca. It also doesn’t mean she can’t take help when she needs it, but in terms of romance, it knows its place in this one and that is to enhance the rest of the book, not overtake it.

On another note, Dominic is an interesting lead guy and I was pleased at how well they immediately have this insurmountable conflict between them. Family feud-type dilemmas are one of my faves.

My name is Verity Price. I’m a cryptozoologist. And this is why I can never get a goddamn date on a Saturday night.

5. The worldbuilding. I already knew McGuire was wonderful at creating an entirely new and seriously creepy and eye-widening-exciting fae world in her October Daye series, but the way she reintroduces mythlogical and assorted popular creatures in this series is once again something to cheer for. And not only will you understand exactly what each one she encounters in this book is like, but you’ll do so thanks to an incredible job at weaving it into the book’s plot. There is some mild use of informational paragraphs, but not to the point that I felt bogged down or bored. It’s yet another veeewwwwy intwesting urban fantasy world McGuire’s given readers to play in.

“Oh, fuck it,” I said, and strode into the blackness.

6. The book ends. While we know this is a series, and you’ll definitely see threads that start a series arc, this book has an ending, not a Ha ha, suckers, you’ve got another year to wait and see what happened to the main characters with that thingy thang on the last page. No readers have been taunted at the ending of this book, I can guarantee it.

OK, so that, basically, is what I just loved to pieces about this book in a very little nutshell. Other things of no less importance were how well-written McGuire’s books remain. It’s really an average-sized book, clocking in at a little over 300 pages, but you’re getting a very meaty, full sandwich of a book here. With condiments and everything (code for plenty of delicious info to gnaw on). I never encountered any lagging pacing or incoherent plotting. McGuire’s talent at humor keeps this one a continuously fun read and both Verity and Dominic have something to learn from one another that keep their development in the realm of satisfactory.

I had only one small concern/complaint, and that was how quickly Verity warms (albeit, admittedly, lukearm at first) to Dominic to the point that she reveals certain intel on her and her family’s doings or that of the InCryptid world and peoples. While on one hand she is trying to get one of The Enemy to see things in a different light, one apart from the false teachings of The Covenant, I still couldn’t believe at times what she tells him in the name of gaining his trust and understanding. And there were plenty of times that Dominic proved he wasn’t worthy of said consideration – but then again this also ties into his development as a character. Still, I wish this aspect had felt as organic to me as the rest of the book did.

That being said, this was really a very minor concern for me in light of how damn good the book is overall. Upon reaching The End, I wanted to go right back to page one and start all over again – one of the few universal results of reading a book that was entertaining and just about everything a reader could ask for. McGuire continues to solidify her writing as some of my most favorite and I’m ecstatic to add another of her series onto my most favorite list. As much as I moan and groan sometimes about yet another series to keep up with, I feel no such qualms about the InCryptid books and will gladly add them to the few I even bother to pre-order. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy looking for something different, I can’t recommend this one enough. Make room for this one on your shelves and be sure to mark the 2nd book, Midnight Blue-Light Special (March 2013) as well.

Rating: Four and a Half Scoops

Series order:

  • Discount Armageddon (March 6, 2012)
  • Midnight Blue-Light Special (March 2013)
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18 comments

  1. I’ve had this pre-ordered for a while now.
    Initially I was really disappointed that it was taking the place of our regular Toby book but having read a couple of reviews Im really looking forward to getting a copy of my own.

    There’s just one thing I don’t quite trust McGuire’s writing on yet. How does Dominic compare to Tybalt?
    Is he more Tybalt or Connor?

    • At first I was confused – I’d forgotten that she was getting out two October Daye series books a year. I see what you mean now. In all honesty I’m impressed she can manage to write three series and keep them coming for all three fairly regularly. Most authors with only one series usually only put out one book a year, if that. I’d gotten used to that one-per-year cycle, at least. I asked another author on Twitter when the sequel for his 2011 debut would be out this year and was surprised to see his reply that it wouldn’t be till 2013, and that he was still writing book 2. It made me realize that maybe I’ve been a little spoiled or maybe just unaware that a book every year isn’t necessarily always the norm.

      And I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you mean by trusting the writing in relation to Dominic and Tybalt. I don’t think you can compare the two, actually. Dominic is an interesting character, but like Tybalt, it will take a little development in subsequent books to make a larger judgement of him, for me at least. Tybalt wasn’t immediately a super-developed character either. He gets more and more layered and meaningful to readers as the series goes on and I hope for the same with Dominic. But to try to classify Dominic as a character by comparing him to Tybalt and Conner isn’t geling with me ATM because the series are so completely different. For now, Dominic seems to be, for all the false teachings of the Covenant, a man that, once his loyalties are decided, he sticks to them. He’s a little blind to anything else once that’s decided, but we see too that he’s not so blind that he can’t see the evidence that Verity is showing him about the InCryptid world. I think he cares very much about doing the right thing.

      I don’t know if that helped at all. Please feel free to ask more questions if you have any or if I just confused you and you need clarification. :)

    • Oh yes, March..it’s already expensive in my house cuz it’s kidlet’s birthday month. She wants, well, everything. :D

  2. This review has me super excited for this new series from Seanan McGuire! Having just recently devoured her Toby books back to back and being in serious withdrawal mode for her fantastic writing and sense of humor this will indeed fill the void. How refreshing that it’s completely different from her Toby series and from the sounds of it even from many other UF series currently out.

    I have to add that your wonderful & enthusiastic reviews of her Toby books really stood out for me and ultimately made me dive into Rosemary & Rue in the first place ;)

    Many Thanks!

    • SO glad you’ve been enjoying the Toby books! This new series is lighter in tone, but I really enjoyed that. While some serious things happen, the heroine, Verity keeps it from bogging things down with her awesome humor.

  3. Thank you for holding on to this review and posting it with March in spitting distance. I think if you posted it back in January or December, I’d be … gnawing pillows in unfulfilled book want frustration. :)

    I’m happy this is a good one. Excited!

    • I’m so happy I did not induce pillow gnawing lol! Poor wittle pillows. :D

      Can’t wait to hear what you think of this one!

  4. You had me at the talking mice. And completely sold me on Discount Armageddon with that bit about how the book has a legitimate ending, no cheap cliffhanger.

    Discount Armageddon, consider yourself pre-ordered!

  5. MWAH! I knew I could count on you to review this one!

    I was reluctant to buy it because of Ilona Andrews. What does she (they) have to do with Seanan McGuire, you ask? Well I love, Love, LOVE the Kate Daniels series- did I mention I love it? But I CANNOT STAND the Bayou series (I even hate the great, big, giant head covers). Didn’t care for the first one but then tried the 2nd in audio format because it’s Ilona Andrews and I love Kate Daniels (did I forget to mention that?), so dammit, I should also love the Bayou series too, shouldn’t I? DONOTLIKE!

    So anyway, I LOVES me some Toby Day (and Tybalt, etc) but was afraid that the Incryptid series would turn out to be Seanan McGuire’s Bayou (the silly chicklit-like cover set off my uh-oh alarms) and decided to wait for a few reviews before pulling the trigger. Yours is the first review I read and I don’t think I’ll be bothering to read anymore because, thanks to you, I am SO buying this NOW.

    Although, I admit I’m tempted to wait for the audio book to be released because I have a feeling it would be pretty entertaining. Hmmm… then again, if it’s as good as you say, maybe I should just read it now, then “reread” the audio book.

    Anyhooo, thank you. I’m off to Amazon right now.

    • I hear you on Andrews’ Bayou series. I loved book one but the rest have been steadily declining for me. Totally agree about the covers. They’re just hideous and so tame compared to what the authors are trying to do with the series. They make them seem like romances when they’re not.

      I’m biting my nails a little – I hope you enjoy Discount Armageddon as much as I did!

  6. You completely sold me on the Toby Daye series not that long ago, and I think I devoured the whole collection of books in approximately two weeks. I’m salivating for the next instalment already, but by the sound of your review I’m going to have something to keep me thoroughly entertained in the mean time!

    Oh, and I know that you currently have a stack-load of books that you need to work through, but can I just take this chance to make a recommendation? There’s a book called “Firelight” by Kristen Callihan. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it already, but it features a kick-ass heroine, a tightly-developed mystery, a great romance, plus it’s set in Victorian London and it’s fabulous!

    I’m recommending it because we seem to like the same little gems that come along throughout the year and I really think this book will hit all your buttons if you get the chance to read it :)

    • Lianne, sooo glad you’ve been enjoying the Toby books! :D I hope this new series keeps that going for you.

      You know, I cannot remember if I’ve heard of Firelight by Kristen Callihan before or not. I may have and dismissed it, thinking it was the same title by Sophie Jordan, a YA fantasy I disliked immensely. I looked up your rec tho and am sold! Purchasing ASAP. ;)

  7. I concur on all points. This book was SO GOOD. I actually thought, after I posted my review, “Hey, I have time to read it again before my husband finishes the book he’s reading right now, so he won’t notice if I steal it back.”

    I’m going to buy a hard copy, because ARCs are great for reading before the release date, but not so much with the lasting through several rereads.

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