Sunday, 22 May 2016

"Smut" by Karina Halle

SmutSmut by Karina Halle
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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3.5 stars.

You know, readers, I often forget that romantic comedy is a book genre. For me, 'romantic comedy' conjures images of Hugh Grant chasing some attractive woman across London in a standard 90 minute movie. So, yeah, this book was outside my usual reading material, and definitely outside my comfort zone. And yet, I found myself strangely enamored with "Smut". Maybe it was its commentary on what constitutes art, and maybe it was Blake's butt appearing as an essential character in almost every chapter. I guess we will never know for sure.

"Smut" was a witty, tongue-in-cheek look at the erotica e-book craze, which I thought was both enjoyable and thoroughly compelling. Everyone has heard people say that erotica is just written pornography; that it is not real literature. Personally, I think this is all snobbery. Erotica is not my genre of choice, but just because I do not like it does not mean it is not "real literature". Blake put this perfectly:

"Because... it's not real writing. It's not literature. It's garbage."
"That's what people said about Shakespeare back in the day. His plays were just entertainment. But what's wrong with that?"
"That's what movies are for."
"That's what all art is for. Your creations can become anything to anyone. I've realized there's nothing wrong with letting people escape for a few hours."

Say it again, Mr. Crenshaw. Say it again.

The characters in this novel were multidimensional and complicated. Romance novels (especially those with a strong sexual focus) can fall into the trap of lax characterisation so we can get to the (literally) juicy bits quicker. Halle wrote two beautiful, complex characters in a light and comic way, making their story easy to read, as well as enjoyable. Although the story followed a formulaic and relatively boring romance plot, the characters were interesting and fun enough for me to forgive this.

Speaking of main characters, let's talk about Amanda. I genuinely enjoyed our MC's development in 'Smut'. We saw her truly explore what it means to be alone after a whole life of dependency. Ahh, growing up - we all feel the need to "shed that cocoon" eventually. Early in
'Smut', Amanda says:

"I want to capture the lightning and hold it in my chest until I burst."

I think Amanda has achieved this by the story's end. "Smut" portrayed how sex can be truly liberating to a woman, and that is an important thing to write about since women are often shamed for their sexual desires. Kudos, Halle!

Overall, "Smut" was a fun romantic comedy, with great characterisation and some interesting points about art and maturity. I would recommend this novel to anybody who wants a light, fun read, with a cute romance and some pretty steamy sex scenes.