I just looked at someone else’s review of The Amulet of Samarkand, and I couldn’t finish reading it. Not because it was a negative review. It was positive–but for the wrong reasons.
If I wanted to read something that more it less is a worship or sexualization of one of my favorite characters, I would have read a fanfic.
Honestly lady, if all you took notice was Bartimaeus’s “hotness”, I don’t really think you understand the book. She hated Kitty (the leader of the child gang that attacks Bartimaeus in the beginning) because she “opposed” Bartimaeus. Really, “opposed”? After seeing how magicians view and treat “commoners”, can you blame her?
And yes, in this book, Nathaniel is a bit of a wimp and he comes off as weak–he’s twelve years old! And this was the first time he’d ever summoned a “demon.” So many things could have gone wrong during the summoning, but they didn’t. If there had been anything wrong, you can bet that Bartimaeus wouldn’t have even regret killing the kid.
And the complaint about Bartimaeus having to do Nathaniel’s “dirty work”…did you not catch the fact that every magician in this world does this? These spirits aren’t summoned by people who want to befriend them, or form some form of camaraderie in return for services; these spirits are the magicians’s slaves. In fact, the theme of slavery becomes very prominent in the later books, but it is still present in the first book. It isn’t just something that is mentioned offhand, it is shown in many brutal ways–especially through Nathaniel’s treatment of Bartimaeus. Along with slavery are themes having to do with class systems, poverty, and more or less the regulation of human rights.
The setting of the Bartimaeus Series is a pretty crappy world for everyone, including magicians (sometimes). There really isn’t anything romantic about it; or at least, there isn’t anything you should romanticize about it.
I guess what annoyed me about the review was that she didn’t even try to understand the underlying themes. All she could see was how attractive Bartimaeus was (in personality, I assume; because we all know that these spirits are anything but attractive on the seventh plane, ha ha), and that usually wouldn’t be a problem if, you know, you acknowledged the other more important themes as well.
Reading this review was like looking into the mindset of a shallow teenage girl (this woman’s an adult, by the way), not through the introspective mind of someone who understands subtext and context clues, even for characters she didn’t like. Seriously, if you’re going to dislike a character, you better have a full understanding of them and come to dislike them for the right reasons.