For the record, they don't suck. As tie-in novels go, they're actually a rather pleasant experience. One day I will resign myself to the fact that publishers are afraid of writers who connect with character emotions like actors instead of script writers.
1. The Beginning: For something that purports to be a prequel, Goodreads has delighted in pointing out several plot holes re: how the club came together, which I'm pretty sure are accurate, even though I just realized that a lot of the finer points of the pilot have been lost to the recesses of my Swiss cheese brain. So I gave up on that hope from the get-go and just tried to think of it as a typical cotton candy/fluff YA novel that happens to star people I don't have to pretend are Glee characters. This makes it a lot better, really.
The worst part is all the Puck/Quinn garbage, which I have mostly repressed from memory and which literally turned my stomach so much I had to start skipping passages. None of the love square is particularly appealing. Rachel's blind mania is dialed up to 11 and she seems extra cartoonish, which according to Season 1 Me is accurate, but I'm not eager to erase the image of a more serious/composed Rachel I've been content with for the past year or two. And Quinn was still two or three episodes away from being lovable in the pilot; it's fair but not comforting to say she's less dimensional here. I don't want to say Kitty levels of one-dimensional (that's Santana), but...
The rest is surprisingly decent. There is freakishly adorable stuff with Kurt and Mercedes (including the beginnings of her crush, aw!), along with some accurate-sounding references to pre-series Burt, and liberal playtime for a shy mutual crush between Tina and Artie that I don't think is unreasonable to believe as part of canon. The author is dead on in describing Emma (who is way less aggravating on paper), and Mr. Schuester's cameo appearances, largely to recognize Rachel, are rather nice as well.
(oh, also, Quinn and Finn win Homecoming King & Queen in this book, so some of my rage bubble over 3x19 has faded with the firmly canon-endorsed belief that Quinn has some type of queenly tiara to her name.)
2. Foreign Exchange: Definitely my favorite. This is the one that's easiest to accept as part of canon, even though it's full of original characters. Because said characters (a French glee club, led by a former exchange student Mr. Schue befriended in his own high school days - that's right! he has a grown-up friend!) are all really well done. Kurt's "entourage" (composed of 3 girls who hang on his every word about fashion, unaware of his sexuality) is adorable, but I'm mostly talking about Celeste, the curly-haired-blonde French Rachel. Original Recipe Rachel is at her throat the whole time, but near the end they have a nice heart to heart and sort of become friends and OH MY GOD, THIS WAS ALL I EVER WANTED THE SHOW TO GIVE ME. Quinn came close, but until the very end it was more mutual admiration and respect than "let's hang out after school" friendship, and even then it was only implied in a train pass that we haven't heard about since. *not at all bitter*
Also, Sue has some particularly hilarious lines that made me laugh out loud, and the author finally captured Brittany's simplistic and childlike voice with dead accuracy instead of occasionally having her say snarky things with far more self-awareness than she possesses.
3. Summer Break: All I can figure is that the author got tired of criticisms about not being sufficiently in character or canon-based and just went, "Screw it, I'm going AU." Most of it is a fantasy sequence set a year in the future after Rachel hits her head. And while I'm not saying it wasn't entertaining to have Kurt running around as Big Star Rachel's personal assistant/life coach/only person who can stand her, patiently filling in the gaps of Rachel's "amnesia" as he goes, it was a tad disappointing after the great display in the previous book.
And I have to say, I have very little respect for a book set at the end of season 2 that fails to so much as mention Blaine's name. This was published in July 2011. Don't tell me there was no time between November and then to do a wee little edit. If you can reference Dalton Academy, you can add Blaine by name.
In conclusion: I'm actually sad that there aren't any more. I feel like I could keep chewing through these a while longer.
Next, let's talk about Monday shows because Monday is currently my favorite night of television. I get three uninterrupted hours to bask in low-emotional-impact, high-satisfaction-entertainment shows while curled up in a blanket (with a book for the slow parts), and it's all very cozy.
-How I Met Your Mother: When did Marshall get kind of hot? It's reminding me of season 2. And that's all I paid attention to while Lily was being disgusting and this whole episode, really, was super dull and/or gross unless Nick was saying stupid things, until Barney showed up with fake fake Feelings Declarations. I'll come back to this next time I need a good shot of shipper's fantasy stakes.
Partners: Bless David Krumholtz's earnest little face acting his heart out. I'm imagining he's really enjoying this boatload of ridiculousness and the change of pace it offers. I have to focus on that because otherwise my never-abating desire to torture Michael Urie to death over his grating voice/character's awful personality will block out all else, including the entire reason I am watching this as long as there's nothing better on: Brandon Routh standing around defining "tall, dark and handsome." In related news, either Sophia Bush is the least affective actor around, or her character is just made of cardboard.
[Right now you probably want to know how I am able to keep up with this show and not Go On. That's a good question, and I do not have an answer for you except that I feel like it's okay to ignore this one and only half listen, whereas I feel like I'm required to stop and pay attention to Go On, which makes it go by way slower. I mean, I did see the birthday episode and his wife is really cute and I like that dynamic a whole bunch, but it also just makes me wish this was a sitcom about their marriage instead of his life after her.]
2 Broke Girls: I feel like that might qualify as the grossest episode ever, but it was really cute to see their "lunch date" in the soup kitchen, Max's never-ending glee over candy and/or setting Candy Andy up with Caroline in order to guarantee a supply of free candy (but don't they already have the best platonic friend-who's-dating-my-friend chemistry?). Candy Andy is also exceptionally cute, I think there might finally be a male character on this show I really like who does not have 4 legs.
Mike & Molly: normally I watch the latter half of Market Warriors at this time - for the record, I only watched this because there was a garage sale, and you know how I am with garage sales (see also, The Middle). The rest I tuned out. If Molly or her mother isn't on my screen, I don't know why the scene isn't cut.
The Middle: Jane Kaczmarek was awesome! But I can't listen to any details from dental school, because anything relating to tooth care makes me run out of the room with my hands over my ears (due to years of lectures on my less-than-perfect care). This includes toothpaste/mouthwash commercials. The pawn shop stuff was also fairly embarrassing, but I did adore seeing piles of garage sale stuff (they got the look just right!) and Sue's unfettered enthusiasm for looking at it.
No, the winner of the storylines tonight was Axl and Hot/Smart Tutor, which was incredibly cute and made me want to read a ton of snarky hate-based dumb jock/smart girl YA novels. Axl's mysterious transformation from Gross Brother to Kind Of Charming When Trying young adult continues.
Now I just need to know why shows are having garage sales now. Do you know what November temperatures look like in New York and Indiana right now? COLD. THEY LOOK COLD. Way too cold to even spend 15 minutes browsing an outdoor market, much less sitting outside for hours. Guys, you've had 6-7 months to capitalize on sales. It's over now.
When was the last time I checked in with Revolution? Don't know, don't care.
* Nate is mildly more interesting when all beaten and bloodied up for attempting to keep Charlie safe.
* Captain Neville remains surprisingly interesting, although his wife is starting to seem like she's even scarier when power-mad, and Kim Raver is doing a fantastic job with it; totally worth her quitting Grey's Anatomy.
* In fact, the Civil War-era militia is pretty much the best part of this show. Or at least their run-ins with major encampments of it. I kind of love watching them perform improbable guerrilla hits all the time.
* I liked the rescue of the kids - I wish Michael and his brother could have stuck around with us. Plus it gave rise to my favorite quote of the whole series:
Miles (smirking to beat the band at Charlie): It's irritating when a dumb kid tells you what to do, huh?
* Miles/Nora: yeah, I could handle that. Although my favorite dynamic, now and forever, remains Miles protecting Charlie (whom I still can't believe is supposed to be 20 as opposed to 16). Like when he attempts to put stranglehold moves on a warlord in the middle of a guarded room (with no weapons at hand) for decking her across the face.
* So far, my favorite flashback as been Nora's. The stuff with her sister made excellent work of showing us an immediately-post-blackout world. That is what I want my survivalist stories to look like. (Aaron's was a good setup too, except ugh, I hate his face so much and I just want him to be the next to die) I don't really want Nora to be my favorite, but she keeps sneaking her way up the ranks. Last night's adventure was the most exciting episode in a while, actually.
* I still haven't fallen in love with any characters yet - they're all still a bit at arm's length, like in the movies. (is that just me? movie characters, 90% of the time, are only there to act out a story. TV characters usually feel like real people.)
* I also don't know why everybody is complaining about "detours" on the journey-to-rescue-Danny plot, because it's unfolding at a perfectly fine pace to me. If you want answers tomorrow, go watch a movie. I like it in measured series form.
(and I do mean measured - I got a tad behind and watched two episodes in one night last week, and it was hard to keep everything straight afterwards. So I guess it really is working best as a week-to-week serial - I mean, it's definitely the thing I most look forward to every week, besides Survivor)
P.S. It was 69 degrees on Saturday and in the upper 20s on Monday, which is when we officially got our first dusting of snow. It vanished overnight, and I shouldn't be surprised since it's the middle of November but...sigh. It's back in the 50s now and for the rest of the week, at least.
Also, question -- Hurricane Sandy did a lot of damage to the upper East Coast, didn't it? How come I feel like I never heard anything about it once it hit? I didn't see news coverage past the first day or two after, I don't see it popping up in fandom circles aside from when there were rumors that voting might be affected. I heard some whispers of people being without power for a week, and it seems like that should warrant way more coverage, but for all intents and purposes, it seems about as devastating as a tornado that hits one town in Minnesota - shock value for a day, and then fades away behind more recent stuff due to the minimal area affected.