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Sunday, December 15, 2019

‘Affliction’ Book 22 'Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter' series by Laurell K Hamilton


From the BLURB:

Micah’s estranged father lies dying, rotting away inside from some strange ailment that has his doctors whispering about “zombie disease.”

Anita Blake makes her living off of zombies—but these aren’t the kind she knows so well. These creatures hunt in daylight, and are as fast and strong as vampires. If they bite you, you become just like them. And round and round it goes…Where will it stop? Even Anita Blake doesn’t know.

‘Affliction’ is Book 22 in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series.

I’ve given up on a lot of series. The Black Dagger Brotherhood series? Gave up. Got sick of all the otherworldly vampire women of unparalleled physical beauty. Gini Koch’s Kitty Katt series was still enjoyable, but just got a little too outlandish for me. Kitty Norville by Carrie Vaughn – kaput for me. Got the feeling that there was no end in sight and no over-arching story to thrill and hook me. One series that I gave up on a long time ago, was Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – that I loved in the beginning, but like many original fans I flamed out when it basically became a cheap erotica series with questionable consent. I bowed out in a big way, with a scorched-earth kinda-joke but also kinda-serious review of Hit List.

Well. That was 2011. Approaching the end of the decade I had a charitable moment of thinking *maybe* I should check back into the series (which has since gone on to Book 26, when I tapped out at Book 20). I thought maybe the series had realigned, course-corrected and I was just curious to see what these characters I once loved were up to.

Readers – I should have left well enough alone. I should have finished at the drinking-game, and closed the door on this series I’d given up on. Instead … I didn’t even get 100 pages into Affliction before I had to remove myself from the absurdity and injury of reading characters I once loved in such a degraded, disinterested and disastrous instalment.

I’m … I’m just going to show you the scene that made me tap out, put a nail in and then pour concrete on the coffin of this once-great series.

The only background you need is alluded to in the blurb – Micah is one of Anita’s permanent boyfriends, and one of two she actually lives with. She’s just been told that Micah’s estranged father is dying, and his mother has encouraged Anita to get Micah on a plane to come and see him one last time.

Anita goes into action-mode and starts coordinating flights, resources, etc…. she calls her other live-in honey, Nathaniel, to ask him to pack their bags, and this is their exchange;

‘I need some shirts that aren’t low-cut, okay?’ 
‘We love your breasts,’ he said, his voice holding that upward lilt that said he was smiling. 
I smiled. ‘I appreciate that, I even approve, but let’s not overwhelm his family with my assets the first time.’ 
‘Would I pack so that all that creamy goodness was on display in every shirt?’ he asked in that false innocent voice. 
‘Yes,’ I said, and laughed. 
‘I promise to pack some regular T-shirts, but most of your dressy tops are low-cut.’
'That’s because the plain silk shell blouses don’t lie right when I wear them,’ I said. 
‘They aren’t designed for someone with a triple-E cup, Anita. I didn’t even know that you could have that big a cup size and be as lean as you are without surgical help.’ 
‘Genetics is a wonderful thing,’ I said. 
‘Yay, genetics!’ he said with so much enthusiasm it made me laugh. 
‘I’ll pack so we’ll match but won’t embarrass Micah. Promise’.



I … I have no words for those words.

They are abysmal. And all the more insulting for what Anita Blake once *was* - an exciting and complex female superhero, frankly, in a paranormal-noir landscape of monsters masquerading as men. This series started out so interesting for being full of grey-areas and thrilling whodunnit’s … now it’s cheap, and nasty. Anita Blake isn’t a Mary Sue, she’s worse – coming across like a walking, talking example of a woman made for the male-gaze (in a series with a largely female fanbase?) and coming across like a cloying attempt to Make Men Like Me.

That’s what the above scene boils down to, for me – “look at my big boobs and little frame! Tee-hee!” She’s like a demented Betty Boop and it’s all the more saddening and maddening for the fact that Hamilton has increasingly alluded and aligned Anita’s life to her own.

I should have left well enough alone, it’s true. I’ve no one to blame but myself for dipping my toes back into this cesspool. I still own Books 1 – 10, which is about as much of the series as I’m willing to still claim pride in as a fan. But everything beyond that is a sad trash-fire that’s continuing to burn, inexplicably.

0-stars.
You get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir.

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