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Sunday, February 14, 2010

'Flirt: Anita Blake Novella' by Laurell. K. HAMILTON

From the BLURB:

When Anita Blake meets with prospective client Tony Bennington, who is desperate to have her reanimate his recently deceased wife, she is full of sympathy for his loss. Anita knows something about love, and she knows everything there is to know about loss. But what she also knows, though Tony Bennington seems unwilling to be convinced, is that the thing she can do as a necromancer isn't the miracle he thinks he needs. The creature that Anita could coerce to step out of the late Mrs. Bennington's grave would not be the lovely Mrs. Bennington. Not really. And not for long.

This is bad. Just, bad. So bad, in fact, that this will be the last Anita Blake book I buy. To be honest, I’m shocked that I’ve depleted my wallet and toughened the series out this far. From now on I’m either chucking in the towel and never reading another ‘Anita’ book, or relying on library loans.

‘Flirt’ is just one big ego-trip. It may as well be one of Ms. Hamilton’s blog posts for its pointless narcissism.

‘Flirt’ has 171 pages. But in actuality the Novella is 158 pages, and in a bout of truly worthless ego stroking, Hamilton has included a 13-page ‘afterword’. In this afterword Hamilton answers the question ‘where do I get my ideas?’ and then proceeds to detail an incident from her life when a waiter serving herself and her (apparently very attractive) friends became distracted and stuttering. Hence her idea for ‘Flirt’ – and incase Hamilton’s recount of these events isn’t enough to convince you of her awesome flirtation prowess, she’s also included a 10-panel comic strip.
Oh. My. God. Somebody deflate this woman’s ego, pronto!
It’s all well and good to read Hamilton’s blog posts and point and laugh at the self-absorbed world she lives in, but when you fork out approx US$20.00 for her hardback you really resent having to pay for the privilege of reading what she blogs for free.
Most authors would have rewarded loyal fans and made ‘Flirt’ a FREE online novella – but that’s too generous for Hamilton.

At this point the ‘Anita Blake’ series has nothing worthy to offer. The stories are flat and uninventive. Hamilton’s books are the literary equivalent of porn, with weak storylines that sluggishly move the characters toward derivative and repetitive sex scenes. This has been the case since ‘Narcissus in Chains’, when Anita’s ardeur made it necessary for her to have multiple sexual partners and participate in orgies at inappropriate moments. And it happens again in ‘Flirt’ – only this time it’s worse. Anita doesn’t just have sex with a stranger in this novella, she has sex with a stranger who has kidnapped her and threatened her lovers. So of course her response is to fuck his brains out. Of course. Totally reasonable and not at all disturbing.

I was willing to give ‘Flirt’ a chance because Hamilton’s previous novella, ‘Micah’, was bearable. I don’t mind Micah as a character (despite the fact that he’s as boring as a plotted plant) and I thought ‘Flirt’ would be half-decent if it was about one of Anita’s men who still peaks my interest. Nathaniel. Jason. Jean-Claude. Richard, etc. But while ‘Flirt’ does have Nathaniel, Micah and Jason making cameos, the novella is about Anita and random male were-lions who Anita sees fit to add to her cadre.

Anita was once an original and kick-ass heroine. She was also a walking contradiction – a tough-as-nails Marshall/Necromancer whose personal morals were a guiding light in the seedy supernatural underbelly of St. Louis. Now she is a cardboard cutout of her former self. This is made abundantly clear in ‘Flirt’ when Anita rehashes old personal issues – like the fact that she is annoyingly modest about her beauty because she thinks herself to be the ‘black sheep’ in her blonde-haired-blue-eyed family. And that her college fiancée dumped her because she wasn’t blonde-haired and blue-eyed, which left Anita with poor self-esteem (but something tells me her multiple beautiful bed partners is fixing that little confidence problem). Sound familiar? That’s because it is. In every ‘Anita’ book we manage to get a page or two recounting why it is Anita is so utterly beautiful but completely unaware of it. And as we do in every ‘Anita’ book, our flagging heroine also gives extensive (and pointless) descriptions of what Nathaniel, Jason and Micah look like.
The same way Hamilton repeats her sentences, especially in sex scenes (‘so tight, so wet’, ‘so hard, so eager’) she has reverted to repeating huge chunks of paragraphs by re-hashing physical descriptions and Anita’s romantic history.

Hamilton’s agent and editors need to take off the kid gloves when dealing with her. Hamilton needs a swift kick up the butt and for someone to explain why it is her readers are disillusioned with this once great series. And for the love of God, can her editors please explain to Ms. Hamilton that by book #18 her readership does not need yet another description of Nathaniel’s purple ‘Easter egg’ eyes or Micah’s short but muscled stature.

The ‘Anita’ series looked to be taking a turn with recent books introducing uber-villain ‘Marmee Noir’; the mother of all vampires. This is a promising storyline, but I really don’t think Hamilton is good enough to follow-through. Her kick-ass protagonist who once single-handedly faced down the Vampire Queen of St. Louis is a shadow of her former self. The storyline isn’t progressing and her character isn’t evolving. Each new ‘Anita’ book is just an excuse to write the same-old sex scenes, and Hamilton is too narcissistic to absorb reader complaints and save her series. I’m done. ‘Flirt’ is the end of the road for me. Maybe I will pick up her next (full-length) Anita book ‘Bullet’, but I won’t be paying for it and I won’t expect much.



  1. I agree with a lot of what you said. I actually enjoy part of this book, the beginning at that restaurant was ridiculous and the sex scene was totally unnecessary. I mean, WTF with so many men she has, she needed to fuck a stranger and a kidnapper?? and after all the sex she has she's still that tight?? OMG I actually groaned when the guy said that... ouch!

    Im not giving up yet... but I totally understand ur decision!

    awesome review!

    btw... i just reviewed Soulless!!! =)))

  2. Wow...this was an awesome review. I totally agree about her agent and editors and family even telling her she needs to slow down and remember why she even started Anita. I don't understand how she keeps coming up on top (ugh) but I wish fans of the old books would just stop buying her series because it seems money and fame is all she'd listen to at this point. Lord knows we on her official message board have said repeatedly we are sick of the way the series has gone. Of course the moderators are quick and delete all those posts before they probably get anywhere. *sigh*
    This review has given me the final pull away from buying the book. I was tempted but it just isn't worth it. I'm going to pretend the last books didn't happen and just tell myself the series stopped at Narcissus in Chains.

  3. *sob*

    first dozen or so books are my absolute favorites..I mean, they are amazing. I can barely stand to pick up one of her books now. It is so depressing. Truly sad.

  4. Your review completely reaffirmed my decision to stop reading the series where I did- I haven't read anything beyond Narcissus in Chains and now I don't think I ever will. There are too many other good books out there to waste time with ones that go nowhere. Great review!

    What Book is That?

  5. Thank. God.
    I was wondering if it was just me who was sick and tired of the repetition in the last, oh, 10 books in Anita-series. Honestly, its been getting worse and worse, I'm halfway through Flirt and I'm considering just tossing it in the fireplace. I cannot take another scene of Anita explaning her scars, or the men around her talking about how beautiful and perfect but oh so modest she is. Honestly, it has gone beyond ridiculous into the realm of painful. It's gotten to the point where I flip past the sex scenes (that is, sometimes the entire book), and god forbid, the tedious and repetative conversations with her endless boyfriends. It feels like everytime you take one step forward you end up sliding back three - Anita is about to go off to smite some horrible foe, but wait, everyone in the room has to stroke her ego for about the duration of ten pages before she can finally get a move on. I really can't understand why I've stuck with this series for this long, maybe it was due to some kind of misguided hope that some of the old magic of it would seep back. But it's clear that's not happening, and this will be the last book I waste my time with.

    Phew. That was a long rant. Excuse my manners, its just something that has been bubbling inside me for quite some time.

  6. If you belch in front of your pals, no big deal: if you belch in front of a guy, it's majorly mortifying. Or you get into a belching contest and its really fun.

  7. I completely aggree with EVERY word you said. Her series used to be the one I waited for, counted down the days until a new book came out. Now the whole series is one big porn on print its horrible and a waste of time and money. I wish hamilton would wake up from whatever stupid slump shes in and write more books about the kick ass anita we knew in the first books. Move the story line on instead of waiting (and having sex again and again and again) for the monsters.

  8. I love the Anita Blake series, despite the poor writing and fantastical story lines, but I definitely agree with what you said about the tawdry sex scenes and repetitive descriptions. The books have turned into trashy romance novels, with writing that sometimes makes me cringe. The dialogue between Anita and all of her boy toys is ridiculous, and that's just when they are talking without the sex.

  9. i agree with a lot that have been said. i used to love reading her books and could not wait for the next one to come. it used to be my favorite series, and now it's all just sex, sex, sex! i'm only 16! i don't want to read about sex! i usually just skip all that, but sometimes i can't because that's all the book is about.
    and i also agrees that the dialogue between anita and her men are completely ridicucous- sometimes they're sweet- but sometimes it's just too much!
    i remember the first book- it had mystery, horror, fantasy, action, adventure, and a hint of romance. it wasn't all about sex. why can't it go back to that? or atleast cut down on the sex and the ego-boosting. there's way too much!!! i love this series and i don't want to give it up, but it needs to change.

  10. i think hamilton still has a great imagination and can still fix this, but needs to cut down on the narcissism, the orgies, the repetition of descriptions, and the unnecessary dialogues with all her lovers.

  11. All I'm going to say is: "What happened to Anita Blake?"

  12. I like chicken... Y'all are a bunch of fags. I love Anita Blake. I jerk off every other chapter.

  13. I agree in what most you are saying. I picked up the books in the first place because Anita was a kick ass girl who didnt physically fit the part. Hamilton is so worried about the sex life of Anita any more it seems that Anita doesn't even really fight anymore. Like in skin trade at the end all she did was sexual shit to free people and then threw her ardeur at the bad guy and then the tigers ate him she didn't do a thing!!

  14. Grieving for the loss of his beloved wife, he asks her to reanimate her so they can be together again. She explains to her potential client that the individual who crossed over will not be the same person who returns. He begs her, but though sympathizing with him and wanting to say yes, she knows the consequences as the love of Tony's life will not come back the way he thinks. She continues to say no.

  15. The thing that makes it really sad is that LKH used to be so damned good, and now it's just horrible. The first ten books are as good in the modern fantasy field as anything else I've run across, and the nose-dive in quality from "Narcissus In Chains" onward is just jaw-dropping. Getting rid of her first husband and her editorial constraint is easily one of the worst literary one-two punches I have ever seen.

    So sad.


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