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Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Bullet' Anita Blake #19 by Laurell K. HAMILTON


From the BLURB:


The triumvirate created by master vampire Jean-Claude, necromancer Anita Blake, and werewolf Richard Zeeman has made Jean-Claude one of the most powerful vampires in the U.S. He's consolidating power in himself and those loyal to him, doing in America what Belle Morte did in Europe when she was at her height of power. She almost owned Europe, and there was those who are determined that Jean-Claude won't do the same in America. Jean-Claude's motives may be kinder, but as any lawyer will tell you: motives matter, but you're just as dead.

Assassins are coming to St. Louis to kill them all. Anita knows they're coming, but even being forewarned doesn't mean you can win.

At this point, I like writing reviews of Hamilton’s books more than I enjoy reading the books themselves.

So, is anyone really shocked that I think ‘Bullet’ sucked? Or that it’s currently standing with a paltry 2-star rating on Amazon.com?

‘Bullet’ was supposed to be all about Marmee Noir – the big, bad evil that’s been haunting Anita since book #14 ‘Danse Macabre’. But it takes a whopping 12 chapters before Marmee Noir is even mentioned. The previous 11 chapters are, - can you guess? – that’s right! Sex scenes! Eleven chapters of ho-hum sex. And a school dance recital thrown in for awkward measure. Sure, Marmee Noir makes an appearance and there’s a half-hearted attempt to make her into an interesting plot. But this is Laurell K. Hamilton we’re talking about. Take out the sex scenes and the character’s physical descriptions and what their clothes look like (seriously? Every time a character enters a room? We need to know that Micah has cat-eyes every time he makes an appearance?) and you probably have about 10 pages devoted to actual plot. Ten sloppily written, badly edited pages – with a lot of dialogue devoted to Anita saying; “what do you mean?” and “I don’t understand”, thereby prompting long diatribes in which characters can meticulously explain plot points that Hamilton wasn’t talented enough to communicate otherwise.

The sex is boring. It really is. Ms. Hamilton may think she’s writing blush-worthy erotica, but really it’s just soft porn - the likes of which wouldn’t even make hormonally imbalanced teenage boys sit up and take notice let alone veteran Urban Fantasy readers. Whenever someone criticizes Ms. Hamilton in interviews and questions her abundance of sex scenes, Hamilton goes on the defensive and calls those nay-saying readers ‘prudes’. It’s not that. Readers of the Urban Fantasy genre are okay with sex – hell; they even expect it and revel in reading it. When they criticize the over abundance of sex in Anita Blake, it’s more because there’s a lot of *BAD* sex scenes. Just plain bad writing. Hamilton repeats herself – from book to book, but sometimes paragraphs that are only 1 or 2 pages apart will have replica sentences. You could make a drinking game out of how many times the sentence “I screamed my orgasm into his mouth” appears in one Anita book.

Sloppy writing aside, the sex isn’t imaginative or in any way titillating. Ms. Hamilton may think that adding more people to a bed will increase the ‘wow’ factor, but when all those people are just humping away in missionary it remains mundane.
In ‘Bullet’ Jean-Claude *finally* has sex with someone other than Anita – and yes, it is Asher. But Hamilton doesn’t write their sex scene explicitly. She sugar-coats over it and summarizes without giving any juicy M/M details. Either because Anita is too narcissistic to describe J-C’s orgasm with anyone other than her, or Hamilton simply cannot write outside the heterosexual box?

Laurell K Hamilton either has a very hum-drum sex life herself, or else she doesn’t read Urban Fantasy to get an idea of how far sex in the genre has come. If I was Ms. Hamilton’s editor, I’d prescribe a bottle of Merlot, the Kings of Leon CD ‘Only by the Night’ and Jeaniene Frost’s ‘One Foot in the Grave’. Read it and weep.

Is it ironic or just plain pathetic that Laurell K Hamilton is resting on her laurels? There hasn’t been anything fresh about an Anita Blake book since ‘Narcissus in Chains’. Hamilton has explored (see; flogged the dead horse to a bloody pulp) all the wereanimal and vampire politics of St. Louis. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more options for Anita and this series. There is so much that Hamilton hasn’t explored. Wouldn’t it be great if Anita went home? If we could get a glimpse of the woman she was before the Marshall job and vampire-hunting changed her. Before she became a nymphomaniac? There are so many unexplored avenues for Anita Blake that Hamilton seems almost stubborn in her refusal to write. Like Anita’s family, for instance. From book #1 we’ve learnt about Anita’s rocky family relationship, especially with her stepmother. But there’s been no mention of Anita’s pious and disappointed grandmother or her adoring stepbrother for books now. What if Anita were to bump into the College sweetheart she was engaged to but who ripped her heart out and left emotional scars that Anita is still healing? So many ‘what if’s’ that could save Anita and this series but are sadly not explored in ‘Bullet’- and because Hamilton is of such low writing calibre, probably never will be explored.

I laughed out loud a few times while reading ‘Bullet’, and not because Hamilton was being intentionally funny. Take this attempt at a simile (? Metaphor? Yeah, I don't know what she was trying to do here), so bad it’s not even good, just cringe-worthy;

“I cleaned up well, but Jean-Claude made me feel like I’d sneaked into the Louvre and stolen a masterpiece off the wall so I could roll around on it naked.”

Yikes.
Quite possibly the only positive thing to say about Ms. Hamilton is that she’s providing hope to any number of would-be authors. Surely any budding novelist who has read a recent Anita book thinks; “Well, if she can get published, so can I!”

There are so many inconsistencies in ‘Bullet’. For one, a character we met in ‘Blood Noir’ and was introduced as a lesbian in that book is now dating Jason. Laurell K Hamilton really should use a lexicon when she writes – though ideally it’s an editor’s role to provide said lexicon. But honestly I have infinite sympathy for Hamilton’s crew of editors – I don’t think she’d be the easiest person to work with, and I think her ego would get in the way of polishing her writing (if her blog posts are any indication). I would be shocked if she had even one editor who has been with her since ‘Guilty Pleasures’ – I just think she would be so awful and impossible to work with that Penguin would draw straws on who had to take on her latest manuscript.

Like I said at the beginning; by this point, I like writing reviews of Hamilton’s books more than I enjoy reading the books themselves. And really, when a reader gets more enjoyment out of mocking an author than reading them, you know something is seriously wrong.

0/5

13 comments:

  1. LOL I love your Anita reviews... Im still waiting for my copy of Bullet hehe

    btw... this gem was in one of Hamilton's recent posts:

    "The teenage girl that told her boyfriend that unless they used a condom no more sex, because Anita would stop the sex scenes and take time to get one. Apparently, I am one, or maybe the only, in the paranormal genre that takes time for that sort of thing."

    Dude, I've seen condoms being used or mentioned in PNR and UF a LOT and she has the gal to say she thinks she is the only one?

    Thats proof she doesnt read any UF or PNR out there hehe

    and I agree, One Foot in The Grave is THE perfect homework for her ahhahahahahahahhahha

    xoxo

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  2. I am going to come back to read the rest of the review, but i skimmed down to see your rating and my heart sank. sigh. You are the second person to tell me its a waste of paper.. ugh. Ill read it to seal the deal on my relationship with LKH probably but it will be sad.

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  3. @ Larissa - LOL. Yeah, because when I think of 'Anita Blake' I think 'safe sex'. Multiple partners, mass orgies, sex with strangers, a metaphysical power pull that turns everyone into sex-crazed fiends... and CONDOMS! Totally.

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  4. LMAO oooooh yeah, that all reeeeally spells safe sex hahahahahaha remember when she thought she was pregnant?? lol

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  5. I'm so glad I stopped reading after the first book.

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  6. I was going to say it's like a short story that she threw unimportant or redundant crap into until she met her page count. After further consideration though, that would be unfair to short stories. It's more like six pages that she threw unimportant or redundant crap into until she met her page count.

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  7. Just Your Average Reader (who really likes anything paranormal and has recently rekindled a liking for Norse mythology)June 6, 2010 at 1:53 AM

    Honestly, I find it sad that the Anita Blake books has fallen so much. I mean, I was hoping for something better in Bullet but noooo. LKH just HAD to give us more cheap sex. Cheap, long and badly written sex to boot. Sometimes, I just wish LKH could get over her need to write sex in every book and focus more on the plot. Some extra gore would be nice too provided that its graphic and nicely written. Ya, I has problems.

    What I found funny when I read Bullet was that after reading a few pages of Anita walking through a crowd with a clown hat, I skipped to the later bits of the book, read/flipped it to the end, and found my self thinking "Wow. More sex. And at the end of the book too. Shit, she's doing girls now?"

    Yeah... major facepalm coming through. Some days, I just itch to rewrite the Anita Blake series. I'm not saying that sex in a book is bad but seriously, is it because of the number of books in the series that makes the sex so... repetitive? Maybe if LKH could find someone to give her more ideas on some more wackier and creative sex... maybe that'll be good? Oh and new sex lines.

    I'm not complaining about the ardeur though. It's an interesting element in the series. If used properly, it would be awesome. Just not the way LKH is doing write now. Right now, sex is the only element in the series. Which is sad. 'Cause it's boring sex. So we need to find a very brave person to say that to her face. Anyone wanna volunteer?

    Please. Someone. The Anita Blake series CAN be saved. We just need someone who can talk down a woman with an ego as big as Canada.

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  8. wow that really makes me sad i was so lookin forward to the new AB book i feel like ive put so much effort into staying with the stories even when ii got bored after obsidian butterfly that was the last great gore fest the rest sex sex an more sex what happened to the blood? maybe its time to more on-leave Anita an Sookie to wander where their next boy toy is!

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  9. Excellent review! I'm feeling like I made the right decision in not continuing with this series after installment seven or so. The Merry Gentry series lost its appeal too. Bummer.

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  10. FYI- Hamilton has no editors; she negotiated that clause into her contracts several years ago- I guess about the time she switched and agents publishers- and you can see the difference.

    There's also a rumor floating around that her first husband helped her out a lot, which could also explain the lack of quality and major retconning since the divorce.

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  11. I was a devoted Anita Blake fan until Bullet! I was so shocked and bored with the book I even skipped ahead just to say I read it and got through it. I couldn't wait until it was over it was like pure torture reading it. I am so upset to know I actually wasted good money on this book! I used to be excited and could not wait until the next book, this time I think I will be able to wait patiently maybe even six books later... that is if they even get that far.

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  12. I am so glad that i am not the only one that was insulted to find a sex scene after like four paragraphs, i thought perhaps i was becoming <> prudish in my old age (im not yet 30 ;D )but it's just as they say sex sells and someone is telling LKH to just pile it on, and she does, just like a pile of manure. i still can't help but read them, hoping against hope that someday somehow she will get back to the gritty no nonsense girl she was in bloody bones. also lose like half of the boytoys and it might get easier to write steamy sex scenes who can keep up with 14 dicks in the bed anyway...

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  13. That being said, sex, while abundant and one of the driving forces of Bullet, is not the focus. Bullet is almost exclusively focused on Anita's private struggles. The conflict is about Anita working her internal issues and the external forces feel like little more than scaffolding raised to hold together the architecture of a novel.

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