Thirds – or our first disagreement

thurdsWhen homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three Humani Therian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tight knit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

One of us enjoyed this series and two of us read most of the books in a week. We all bought our copies.

Fra: In February this year I spent two weeks in India for work; two weeks of unending business meetings in an hostile environment, two weeks of having to be completely and utterly focussed on the work in an amazing location which was just out of reach both for lack of time and lack of, well, being not a woman on my own.

I don’t mind travelling on my own, in fact I rather love it – the feeling of being completely untethered by anything but my own safety and well being, the promise of serendipitous discoveries made by me and only me…unfortunately Hyderabad was not to be much of an exploring adventure  – it is objectively not safe for a woman on her own to go out at night unaccompanied and as unfortunately the nights was all I had, reading in the hotel was pretty much all the adventuring I did.

But boy did I read!

I read the T.H.I.R.D.S books on this trip, all of them at the tune of one per night , and I believe that they couldn’t have come onto my Kindle at a better time. And this is the absolute magic of books in my opinion – they let you escape, they bring you some place else and take you  where you don’t have to be all serious and focussed and in charge and whatever else you needed to be on day in day out basis.

And how “elsewhere” is a romance series about  shifters and a main character that is like Tigger on acid?

For me T.H.I.R.D.S was pure and utter fun to read: I enjoyed the world building and the characters interactions and yes I absolutely and unashamedly love Dex.

First off I really liked the Therians vs Human society – I think Cochet did a good job establishing the parameters of her world setting through the interactions between the characters and the exploration of the back story.

I also loved the action – it was fast paced and kept me entertained for hours while in the hostile office thinking “what will happen next” “will they or they won’t get it on, catch the baddies” etc in the middle of Very Serious meetings.

My absolute favourite thing about the series is the family dynamics of Tony, Dex and Cael – in my book this is exactly what family is about: these three are not related by blood at all and yet they manage to love and support each other within the context of a family unit which is anything but traditional.

And yes, I blame it totally on my predicament at the time but I really do love Dex. Yes he is MC and at the same time a caricature of an MC, he also is a bit like Tigger on acid and yet, and yet I found him funny and caring and clever and enormously entertaining.

The latest instalment of the series is all about Ash and Cael – I did enjoy the book although I would have preferred more action and to see more of Destructive Delta as a team.

In many ways the books are formulaic in their repetitive use of relationship tropes: opposite attracts, the fear of the “other” (whether an other person or another culture or another species as it might be), good v evil etc and yet I find that at times – especially when the writing is good that this is not a bad thing and that it makes reading an easy and pleasurable temporary escape from reality.

Miki: Well, I think that this series was a good choice for a group review because it annoyed the hell out of me. I understand perfectly why you feel as you do, Fra, but for me, the only book that was ok, entertaining, and maybe fun, was the #1. Then it was falling into the void to the point of complete irritation.

Karen:  For me, as these were recommended by Fra, I was a little nervous because they had been compared to the Cut and Run series of books, which I didn’t enjoy at all. However the first 2 books I gulped down and found terrific fun.  The term escapism is often used rather disparagingly but for me, thats exactly what they were.

The comparison to Tigger was one of the things I initially liked, that totally unfettered enthusiasm, however as I read more it did  begin to wear a little thin.

Fra: I didn’t know about the Cut and Run comparison, otherwise I wouldn’t have picked up T.H.I.R.D.S at all. I read the first Cut and Run and thoroughly disliked it, didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about and any comparison between a book and Cut and Run is a sure way of making me not pick up that book.

Karen: One of the elements I liked about the series was how the shifting element was introduced, I have a particular aversion to the ‘mine/ claiming / instalove style of shifter book, so CC having the shifting ability as a disease was an interesting twist. As was the mainly platonic partner relationship between humans and Therians (the shifters)

Fra: I haven’t read many shifter books – I like the idea and have no problems with paranormal elements in my books so I was open to it. I did like the fact that this mutation was the result of experimentation gone wrong rather than actual magic. And I found that the description of the dynamics between Therians and Humans were rather cleverly made in the context of the relationship between mainstream and other. The tension and the reluctant acceptance of the Therians made for an interesting read and I find myself wanting to know more about the social dynamics between the two worlds and how we got to where the books plot starts.

Miki: I think it was the only point that I thought was well done at first, and I really like shifter books. So maybe that was why I decided to read these. All the thing with the Therians and the THIRDS were interesting, but not enough for me.

Karen: I also enjoyed the 80’s and 90’s pop culture references, cheesy songs and films again are a weakness of mine so I’m predisposed to to characters who share my preferences. I would have liked a Steven Segal reference frankly, and perhaps some REO Speedwagon- but even so this gave the books , for me, a really personal connection.

To go back to the point that you made earlier Fra, about the books being escapist, I can certainly see that, and it got me thinking about why and what we read. I found that as well as a lot of love for this series, there is also quite a bit of judging going on.  I got the raised eyebrow a couple of times  when I said I was reading this. Yet it is wonderfully escapist, well written on the whole and with a definite plot and an distinct endgame, or so I hope.

In the main I read these and enjoyed them.

Real  life confession time here, when ‘everyone’ is reading and talking about the latest critically acclaimed/ worthy/ literary book I have been known to fake read it. Not always – so don’t judge me too harshly. But I do feel that books like Thirds , when you’re in the right mood are very liberating.

Fra: I agree, Karen. Here is the thing I believe: reading is amongst other things a  form of entertainment; yes it is edifying and cathartic, it shakes our world and our beliefs and makes us reach new worlds without ever leaving our home but it is also entertaining and for as long as the book is well written, with an engaging plot and enough tension to keep me reading I am all up for it.

I do realise that perhaps the series is not the most profound and it is formulaic but I still found it fun to read and although I thought the latest instalment could have done with more action and less UST I am still looking forward the next book in the series which I hope is going to be about Calvin & Hobbs but think is still Cael and Ash.

Miki:….*cough* *looks the other way*

Karen:  Miki, I almost get the impression that you are disagreeing with us here ?

Miki: Yeah…sorry. 5 books of the same thing? Jeez, no.

Fra: See I think that we live in the age of the judgement of everything; I have stopped reading the Next Big Book a long time ago – partly due to ICoS which sent me into this wonderful new world of M/M and this fantastic group of people BUT mostly because in my stint in the power corridors of publishing and distribution I got to understand that the Next  Big Book is naught but this massive marketing machine – yes the book might be truly fantastic but it is made BIG by the people who tell, you you must like this. And I, as we all know, don’t do well when people tell me what to do. And the more time goes by the more riled up I become at people who have an opinion on what I should read and like and talk about.

Sometimes i just want to read or watch for the pure fun of it and if the story I am into is well written and keeps my attention than more power to the author!

Karen:  I really respect that view,  and I think if we were all more honest in our reading choices perhaps this ‘snobbery’ wouldn’t exist.

Pulling back to the books then, overall I found that the balance of action, romance and the message of tolerance worked very well, and was enjoyable, but may be in danger of being overplayed.

Miki:……….Ok. I´m going to be the black sheep here. You can throw tomatoes when I’m finished !

With Books #1 and #2 I can agree with you. It´s entertaining, they are good choices if you need to pass the time and just have fun without much effort. Maybe. Even so, I think the romance, but especially the mystery part, was very formulaic, a bit weak and unbelievable. And this bipolar side of Dex, that in a second he is a very tough policeman, with knowledge and bravery and high morals, but then he became this irritating childish man, completely immature. But I can and did make a bit of “suspension of disbelief”.

Now, the problem is that when you repeat the exact same formula, with the same narrative devices and the exact same logic for every goddamn dialogue, after 5 books, it gets completely annoying.

So the issues for me start with Book #3. This is a filler, a great bridge to what is to come, and nothing else. The book (or the author) does not seem to have many literary aspirations with it. It is rather an alternating succession of action sequences, and sex. Then we have Book #4 which, although better than the last in terms of plot development, it remains extremely repetitive, whose dialogues and sequences are predictable, tedious and very unoriginal. And although Book #5 main characters change, at this point I felt that the author couldn’t write anything differently. Even when it seems to present a different couple, their characteristics are the same as the previous one: each represents the same role, the same formula. And after 4 books I feel I should give up.

I believe that the saga is falling with every book because its narrative never takes off, there’s nothing that stands out from the crowd. And the lump that catapult the action becomes a kind of dichotomy between “a pure evil and cruel without soul” vs. “good martyrs who suffered a thousand regrets but still are altruistic.” And when that duality is part of military action, the result can never be good. And i don’t even want to start with the big cliché that is the “Latin” woman. Oh!, and please, CHECK YOUR SPANISH GRAMMAR!
Karen

:  So, a totally mixed review here, Fra loved them, Miki didn’t enjoy them and I’m somewhere in the middle. We would love to hear other people’s views

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