Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's so special about this Bella girl? Edward's so whipped!

I figure I should start this review off right. You know, get something off my chest for those who don’t know me.

I was a vampire fangirl.

Well, still am. And totally before it was cool.

And no, I’m not talking about that sparkly bullshit either. I like my vampires tall, dark and sexy/broody with no sparkles and have for some time. I tried the whole Twilight thing, really, honestly did. Bought the book and everything and in about twenty pages of drivel, gave up and never picked it up again.

I say this mostly so that I can feel better about acting superior about the new popularity of vampires. I get it. You’re trying to grab on the cash cow that Twilight has been and that’s great and everything...I just wish they were well written.

The next two book reviews are grouped for a reason, and not just because they feature our fanged friends but more on that later... I just feel that while it’s nice that they’re getting the attention, that people are really just raping the vampire character and turning them into wannabe romance cover boyfriends. And before you start in on the whole Buffy started the broody vampire thing, yeah, they did and they made them awesome (minus Angel, he got kinda annoying :P) but you cannot deny that they made them more complex and strayed away from the whole lion lamb (is it coincidence that I originally spelt out lame? I think not), standing outside your window business.

But I could probably talk vampires way longer than is healthy, so lets get down to business.

Another One Bites The Dust by Jennifer Rardin.

What can I say about this series? Yes, it’s a series, shockingly enough.

I had picked up the first one of Rardin’s series, Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Yes, they all have pun-y titles) while at a grocery store and thought that the tongue in cheek writing was cute enough. There was a female lead who seemed pretty strong, vampires, guns, action. It’s not hard to win me over obviously.

After getting through the first one, I attributed most of the issues to being a fairly new writer (I had hoped) as the plotting was a little... odd timed and the tongue in cheek puns and writing style got old quickly. Sometimes it was funny, other times it struck as trying too hard or seemed forced. Being quirky is never a bad thing, -trying- to be quirky gets old fast.

However, seeing the book on the ‘free’ table at work, I couldn’t help myself and hoped that Rardin had managed to figure out her style a little bit more, or perhaps an editor would make her tone down her self indulgent tendencies.

No such luck. Another One Bites the Dust has her main character retrieving some sort of armor from some dude and blah blah blah. Honestly, the plot for this book wasn’t exactly most fascinating. If I must, there’s an old rival who has enlisted some Chinese dude to steal some mind blowing armor that generally makes him impossible to kill. Except he’s evil, so he has to be killed. Enter our conquering heroes. 

I think the major issue I have with Rardin is that there’s so much potential there that she could have a really decent series on her hands. Instead, it gets muddled down with too many plot contrivances (especially towards the end when things are suppose to be wrapping up and instead they seem to unravel). She manages to start off well, introducing characters and issues, however towards the middle of the book---when things are suppose to be getting y’know, good, it tends to meander around and things get stale quickly.

This isn’t to say that I dislike her as a writer, like I said there is a great matter of potential for her, the characters that she has written are likable, well rounded (for the most part) and fun to read. I just hoped that she would figure out a better way to put them to use. The style itself is generally unique and when she hits the target, they can even be laugh out loud funny--however, again the downside is putting too much effort into these little turns of phrases.

There’s just a bit too much try there.

Would I give her next book a try? Perhaps, if it was free and I had some time to kill. There’s a reason this is a book relegated to times when I’m brushing my teeth or having a bath. I don’t honestly have much attachment for it, although I appreciate the fact that Rardin doesn’t want to fit into a certain main steam writing style, I do wish she could find someone to put her back on task and maybe stop fracturing her story so much with jamming too many storylines and subsequent quick fixes into the mix.

Sometimes less is more.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

I think that possibly part of the reason I didn’t enjoy this book is because I had watched the series before reading the book (to be honest, I hadn’t heard of these books until the series came out, although I attribute that to being more of a tv junkie than someone who follows book blogs etc).

Therefore, I doubt I can really appreciate her ability to lay out a plot as to me, it seemed like season one re-hashed. Yes, I know. I should give Harris full credit due to the fact that I did enjoy season one quite a bit and the bare bones of that series was basically book one of the Stackhouse series.

But life isn’t fair.
So, unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I think I could have however I will not attribute all it’s shortcomings to the fact I consumed the story in one media type over the other.

The second problem, though has nothing to do with the series and that is to say that the writing style is lacking. Sure, it’s straight forward and the well thought out plot and fleshed out characters did take a lot of talent but the actual writing left a little to be desired.

I will say this now, to clear up any confusion as I think that straight forward writing is always better than anything too flower-y or overdone. However, a little colour could liven things up and make me enjoy these a lot more than just the guilty pleasure that I read in the hopes of it living up to the hype surrounding them. It’s just there is straight forward and then there’s what I may snottily call dumb writing and there were at times where I felt a little air-head-y reading the book. As I got deeper into the storyline however, I felt a little better, however I couldn’t always shake that feeling that in the hands of a different writer I may have been blown away.

The third issue I have, translates both to screen and to page. Sookie Stackhouse and Bill. I hate to say it but it seems like she’s a tad bit of a grown up Bella. (And, I’m sorry but any character who utters the type of line like “It’s not because I’m not pretty. I am.” especially on the first page leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.) I’m hoping I’m wrong about her and yes, there’s nothing wrong with having someone more powerful help you out with things and not every character has to be a bad ass heroine--but if you’re going to be a Mary Sue blonde who needs her strong vampire lover handle everything I may burn your little pages. She treads on thin ice that character and the reason I stuck with both the series and the book is because of the supporting characters and story. I can only hope she gets better with age.

Is Dead Until Dark a bad book? Not entirely. It’s overshadowed in my mind simply because I watched the series beforehand and it’s tainted the experience a bit. So, yes, I will definitely grab the second one, if only to be able to give a better critical review of Harris as a writer, once the books and the television series part ways a bit more.

The reason I thought these two books were quite similar is the fact that while they both had interesting characters, the writing and in some cases, the plot were lacking in order to make them, in my opinion, good books. Sure, they both have great potential, that’s clear to see, however only time will tell if they’ll manage to grow into their own styles and manage to elevate themselves beyond “guilty pleasure”.

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