Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review. Really.

I read voraciously**.  Most of what I read during the summer are fluffy, good old fashioned escape-type books.  Cotton candy books, that can be enjoyed at the beach and then forgotten on a bench outside of the Purple Moose Saloon in Ocean City.  It's how I decompress. 

I read the latest Laurell K. Hamilton book, Affliction, when it came out. For those unfamiliar with Hamilton's work, she writes about a character named Anita Blake.  Anita is a vampire executioner, but she is also a necromancer.  In the first book, she is hating on the vamps something fierce, but then she has a mystery to solve and starts talking to the vampires in order to solve her case.  Hilarity ensues, for twenty books.  Some of the early books were quite enjoyable, with very creepy characters, and Hamilton gave me a few nervous chills before bedtime.  I could not say the same about this latest offering.

I like the character of Anita Blake. I really do. She's got a special blend of overcompensation, certainly. She is the same height as me, for instance, yet everyone acts like she's practically two feet tall. Pages and pages about how small she is, how this doesn't fit, and that she requires specialized items due to her size. I can play along, even if that is not especially attractive in a soldier-type of person.   Anita also tries to act like she is Clint Eastwood playing Dirty Harry, with the glare and the rude attitude. She is looking for a fight, a real scrapper.  I get it.  But surely she has grown up enough not to feel threatened into behaving so poorly.  If Hamilton wants us to think of her character as tough and adequate to whatever obstacle she is confronted with, why does she keep emphasizing her shortcomings? 

All that overcompensation was okay, for a few pages in the first book. After that, it just feels like filler, but Hamilton keeps repeating it all anyway. She goes on and on about Anita's hair care regimen, her outfits, everyone else's outfits, the guns she uses, the holsters, what sort of bullets, etc.  In every book.  Affliction is no exception. I wondered, at one point, whether Hamilton has all that information saved on her hard drive so she can just paste it into any new manuscript.  Also, Blake isn't new on the job, she has been doing this for years. The tough chick act was passe' when the first book came out. Yet Blake still has to spend hours explaining herself to police officers and playing "who is more well-endowed" with them?  She's been in several states, and cops are not stupid, yet Hamilton demeans them continually by repeatedly making the police have to challenge Anita, and emphasizing that they can't work well with others.

DO we need to review every aspect of vampire and were-critter lore every single book? It seems like Hamilton thinks so. Pages and pages, devoted to vampire politics, wereanimal politics, that were not relevant to the story. Even the sex was rather boring, even the scene with the auto-erotic asphyxiation, though I am sure that was not intended.  And Blake continually has to be chastised about the ardeur, which is some sort of metaphysical sex machine, and how she completely drains the people she is supposed to love if she doesn't eat or take care of herself, because she forgets. After all this time, even a diabetic would be automatically taking their insulin on a schedule.  You don't forget.  If she truly loves these men that she is metaphysically attached to, Blake would be doing her very best to make sure they were taken care of.

The basic story, about flesh-eating zombies, was good. The action scene in the hospital basement was great--but then Hamilton went back to the talking about irrelevant stuff like guns, a group marriage proposal, and clothes, and the story completely lost momentum.  I felt as though I were in the middle of a Seinfeld episode without the funny.  Readers who have liked previous Anita Blake novels will probably be disappointed in Affliction.  I don't blame them; I feel the same way. I don't even know if I will buy the next book in the series!

**John Sandford's Silken Prey, Lance Burson's The Ballad of Helene Troy, Sharon Kay Penman's Lionheart, Elmore Leonard's Raylan, Riding the Rap, and Pronto,  Douglas Starr's The Killer of Little Shepherds, Cassandra Clare's City of Bones series, JR Ward's latest offering and several others.  I recommend all of these authors, as well as Hilary Mantel(start with Wolf Hall).
Mama’s Losin’ It

1.) Book review! What are you reading this summer?


  1. I haven't read the latest Anita Blake yet, but it's on my "to read" list. I agree - it's annoying that she tends to rehash every bit of lore from book one through the present. This series started getting dull for me after book four or five, and It's getting difficult for me to work up enthusiasm for it at this point. Great review!

  2. Good observations. Makes sound like you've reached about the end of your interest in this particular line of books.

  3. Hmmm. I own and have read the rest of the Anita Blake books. My husband has read them as well. We both have been getting a bit frustrated with the series recently for the exact same reasons. Makes me wonder if I want to get this latest one...


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