So, unlike the last time I ran a shipping poll, in which Larry and Anna were tied as favorites and Brian was barely in the running, in the latest poll, Brian has actually pulled ahead of Larry — but Anna is by far the favorite.
So, y'all like femmeslash, Xander the Muggle, and the Brooding Bad Boy, in that order.
Also, you think a giant robots battle is more likely than a HEA.
I was rather pleased that the list of favorites progressed in order from book one to book four — wow, most of you actually think each book has been better than the last! However, I was actually not surprised to see that AQATSA was second only to AQATTC as "Least Favorite."
I expected Thorn Circle to be the most least favorite — it was my first book, after all, and the weakest.
To be perfectly honest, though, I felt some of the weaknesses in Star Above that made some of you choose it as your least favorite. The most consistent criticism has been the pacing — that after Alexandra returned from Dinetah, she spent several months studying and messing around with advanced magic and the Stars Above, before her final confrontation with John Manuelito. So, she went from drama and stunning revelation to action and adventure in a new and interesting place to... many chapters of being back at school, with an abrupt climax in the last three chapters.
I think in part, I was overcompensating for criticisms of earlier books in which the climax and denouement were dragged out over too many chapters.
The other things that I think left some readers not quite as thrilled with AQATSA as previous books were (1) MY MOTHER IS A CAT; (2) The Stars Above; (3) The Prophecy.
Regarding Hecate/Galenthias — well, either that twist works for you or it doesn't. But sometimes an author has to pull a WTF? out of his hat now and then. This one won't be the last.
I think mostly what people didn't like about the Stars Above was their ambiguity. They made a lot of pronouncements which were not explained, so yup, you have to wait to see how the series plays out to find out what it all meant. I know some readers don't like being left with unanswered riddles like that. Which is similar to the prophecy that some folks complained about — you don't even know exactly what the alleged prophecy says, so it's a big mystery with unknown implications, and of course, prophecies are an overused plot device many people don't like in the first place. So why did I drop one in there? I guess you'll have to wait and see whether I either used or subverted the trope effectively or not.
All in all, book four probably left more loose plot threads dangling than any of the previous books. I'm glad you liked it anyway, and if for some of you, it didn't quite measure up to earlier books, that's okay, I will try to do better with book five. (I always try to do better with each book.)
None of this should be taken as an "apology" for AQATSA, btw — I'm just picking it apart because it was the most recent. I could pick apart all the previous books as well. In fact, that's what I'm going to do.
The Alexandra Quick Rereading Project
So, I have not actually reread any of my AQ books in full since posting them. Of course I am referring back to them constantly when I write, and I have extensive notes for every single character and item and event, but as I continue to work on my SF novel (currently at 70K words), I have decided it's time for a complete reread of the AQ series. So I am going to start with Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle, and reread all four books start to finish. And as I go, I am going to post author's notes.
Some of you have said you like self-indulgent author's ramblings. So that's what you'll get. I don't promise lengthy commentary on every single chapter, but I will comment on things like "I had no idea what I was doing here" or "See where I planted this clue right here? Bwahahaha!" and whatever else I remember about my writing process at the time, and how it reads to me now, some years later. Those of you who aren't interested... well, you can do what you do with all my other posts that don't interest you. :P
Oh, and here's the wordle created from the final draft of AQATSA: