A little over halfway through this book and things are still dragging along. However, as boring and monotonous as things are going, I've found myself curious enough about the conclusion to our little adventure and the newly introduced "Evil-slaying" plot device to continue on.
Again, I wonder if I've been struck with some sort of "Why do I hate myself?" streak; I've been forcing myself through books that I haven't been able to enjoy. I had already had reserves about reading Silver Phoenix due to some of the low to mediocre ratings and some disappointing reviews, but I had to let my curiosity get the better of me (as well as a bias towards anything remotely Asian and adventure-like, doncha know).
Anyway, the world is described with a lot of detail and seems like it's built quite well. Unfortunately, the revealing of the world, the characters, and even Ai Ling's major conflict all unfolded on a fairly flat tone. The background is pretty stylized, but told in really boring fashion. The characters could be great, but they just seem to be trodding along as if yanked by the Almighty Author's narrative planning... which also sits in tune with all the talk of fate and destiny and how everything is ordained and no one seems to have control over their own life in this world.
I get that in Chinese culture, historical China was a pretty dreadful place laced with societal standards, taboos, social rules and regulations... all the stuff that modern Americans (men and women alike) would never really stand for. Ai Ling's continued shaming at not being a proper lady/daughter/woman kind of grates on my nerves and I keep expecting her to finally break the mold and act out to cement a certain strength in mind and will that, narratively, she's supposed to have. At the same time, I keep having to remind myself that women weren't always treated fairly back in the good old days.
Just the mere fact that Ai Ling almost gets raped, yet everyone around her were more worried about pride, reputation, and a lost father's letters than her well-being, and then ultimately making her feel like the entire incident was her fault should have forced me to drop the book already. Or how she is constantly being reminded that "A lady should not be doing such and such" and all sorts of double standard crap.
And yet, I continue to persist, probably with the hope that Ai Ling will become a girl beyond her own time and that these issues will be addressed.
And is that a potential triangle brewing between Ai Ling and the two brothers, Chen Yong and Li Rong? I'm already rolling my eyes.
Anyway, now that the main point of the adventure has come to light (finally), maybe things will pick up a little.
P.S. Why do we keep calling them "eating sticks"? I'm sure everyone and their neighbors know what chopsticks are. It isn't even any sort of direct translation from the Chinese characters for chopsticks, so what gives? Am I missing something here?
Also, for an adventure, there sure is a lot of resting and eating and resting and eating going on. Let's just skip the monotony and move forward, shall we?