Blood Noir - Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, book 16 by Laurell K. Hamilton
.1. Guilty Pleasures
.2. The Laughing Corpse
.3. Circus of the Damned
.4. The Lunatic Cafe
.5. Bloody Bones
.6. The Killing Dance
.7. Burnt Offerings
.8. Blue Moon
.9. Obsidian Butterfly
10. Narcissus In Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin (see previous commentary)
16. Blood Noir
Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 5.5" out of 9"
UPDATE: In her blog of Thursday, June 12, 2008, LKH gives her own explanation for "What's the book about?"
Well, hell. After recently expressing my concerns about some of LKH’s blog content, this commentary is going to seem like I’ve left the stands and am now on the playing field for the sport of LKH-bashing. This is soooo NOT appropriate behavior for fangirls, is it? Aren’t I supposed to be defending MY author at all costs and beyond all logic? Am I not betraying her if I do not express the opinion that every single book she writes is the Best Book Ever and is now my All Time Favorite? Well, since this is MY blog, and I consider this my book diary, then I’d only be lying to myself if I was less than honest-- about LKH's books or those of any other author.
Blood Noir was an… okay read. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t dislike it. It was just okay. But I confess a bit of disappointment because this just wasn’t an LKH book.
Jason's mother calls to tell him that his father only has weeks to live. There are a lot of issues between them and his mother suggests he bring a girlfriend to try and convince his bully of a father he's not gay. Since Jason and Perdy have split up, Nathaniel volunteers Anita for the job.
That’s the setup, now here’s the summary of Blood Noir:
Blood Noir is an extended conversation between Jason and Anita (pages 1-196), followed by a couple of disconnected metaphysical incidents (pages 197-309), followed by a couple of VERY loosely connected scenes where Anita gets to shoot and kill (pages 309-336), then the final wrap-up (pages 337-340).
Anita and Jason talk before sex, they interrupt sex to talk, they talk after sex, they talk in cars, they talk in the plane, they talk in their hotel room, they talk at a gathering of Jason’s old girlfriends, and they talk at the hospital. They talk about their relationship with each other, they talk about their relationships with their families and friends, they talk about the other men in Anita’s life, and they talk about Jean Claude’s power structure. They talk and talk and talk and talk... and talk some more. And when she isn’t talking to Jason, Anita is THINKING about talking with Jason.
Now, don’t get me wrong, getting to know the characters better is a very GOOD thing and I really DID enjoy that aspect of it. LKH’s characters are like old friends to me. But what makes this a very non-LKH like book is that nothing else is going on during the first 58% of the book where this extended conversation takes place. It’s NOT intertwined with any larger action or mystery plot, or even a metaphysical emergency. It’s just two people talking nearly non-stop as they travel from St. Louis to and around Ashville, NC (that’s a whole ‘nuther issue- I’ve never been there, but her description doesn't sound quite right). They do interact with other people, but the first half of this book is mainly devoted to Anita and Jason talking to each other.
I will say however, that the sex during these first 196 pages is just that—sex. No metaphysical manifestations or increase in Anita’s power, which is a welcome change of pace even if the scenes still felt a bit... less than passionate
This is a single layer, simple story. No complexity, no layers, no multi-dimensions. If she was a new author, I’d say she showed promise with her characters, but needs to give them more story to work with. Yes, other authors have been semi-successful with not much more than that, but this is Laurell K. Hamilton and that is NOT how Laurell K. Hamilton writes, at least not the writing that has landed her on the Best Seller lists all these years.
Honestly, this book does not feel like she put her best effort into it. As if her only goal was to get word count/page count down each day and adding any other layers would have slowed her down from meeting that daily goal.
If she’s developing that kind of tunnel vision, then I sincerely hope that she has built increased intervals between books into that new contract she just signed. I'd like to see her slow down, and take time to CREATE and THINK, to CRAFT her stories again instead of publishing stream of consciousness thoughts. Seriously, thought processes DO change as we get older (she’s only a few years younger than me.) And what worked for her before-- sit your ass in that chair and write x number of pages-- may not work for her now that she’s getting older. Or is it burn-out? Or she’s not “hungry” anymore? I dunno. I only know that Blood Noir is, BY FAR, not her best effort in the ABVH series.
Bottom Line: I think Blood Noir should have been a novel-lite like Micah was. I wouldn't have had a problem with a novel-lite, especially if the conversation had been tightened up and the menace and metaphysical elements were introduced earlier in the book. As published, those elements did not feel integrated into a cohesive story.
So how does a fangirl defend this book? No disrespect intended, but honestly, I can’t. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t a Laurell K. Hamilton book. I can only hope that it is an aberration and that LKH’s next ABVH book will be co-authored by her infamous Muse rather than Word’s page count.
And now, I’m off to read other reviews for Blood Noir. I’ve avoided nearly all of them so they wouldn’t color my own opinion. But now I’m hoping someone will point out something I missed or will give me a new way of looking at certain scenes.
Piquant Opines: RT, Darque Reviews, Graeme's, A&F, BlogCritics: ABVH series and Blood Noir review
Have you read this book? Feel free to review or link to a review in the comments. Even if you don't agree!