February 2006 archive

Minion by L.A. Banks (O.G. version)

Grade: B

First thing’s first: I liked this book. The prose is clunky, the dialogue is awkward and expositional, and the pacing drags in the middle, but I felt compelled to read and finish it. The writing is vaguely amateurish at best, but I couldn’t put it down. Is it the story? No, because this is basically a Buffy rip-off, complete with the Chosen One, the Watchers (Guardians), and the humans who are oblivious to this battle between good and evil. In short, it’s Buffy with a black girl instead of an anorexic white girl. As if that’s not enough, the heroine is stupidly stubborn, some of the mythology didn’t make sense to me, and the head Guardian is freakishly Mary Sue, but it kept me reading. Why? Well, I can sense that L.A. Banks is trying to do something cool here, something big, and I want to be there when it happens. Fuck Buffy, fuck Anita Blake… there’s a new vampire huntress in town and her name is Damali Richards.What I enjoyed most about this book is the atmosphere. The hip-hop world mixed with the urban jungle that is East L.A. and a healthy dollop of the supernatural? I’ve never read anything like it. These people aren’t rich white folks or simple country folks who are thrust into situations that they can’t control, so wackiness ensues and shit. They are hard-core salt of the earth folks who aren’t necessarily good citizens with pristine clean police records. They carry guns, sell drugs, do drugs, prostitute themselves for drugs, maybe one of them has even shot a man in Reno just to watch him die… whatever, some of these people are just really bad. But some of them are just folks who are trying to survive and yet Banks deftly characterizes them as people you pass on the street everyday. Vampires, werewolves, demons, Neteru… they’re all real. There is no naïve single mother gets saved by a handsome CEO; everyone in this story have had hard-knocked lives and are just struggling to survive through the day.
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A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands

Grade: D

Woo-hoo, another contemporary vampire romance novel! Only this one features a vampire heroine who faints at the sight of blood! That’s hilarity, I tell ya. Pure comic brilliance. Oh, and I’m being sarcastic, by the way. I’m bitchy like that. Anyway, I’ve read the other books in this series, one was Single White Vampire which featured a Meg Ryan type of heroine that made me want to plunge a screwdriver into my brain through my eye socket. The other was Love Bites, which I don’t remember very well, except it had a villain named Pudge who was just some weirdo who worshipped the hero, but the hero wouldn’t give him the time of day, so he snaps (kind of like what’s-his-name from the Incredibles). In those books, we encounter a sister of the Argoneau boys who is married to a psychologist named Greg. This entry in the series is really more like a prequel because it tells the story of how Greg and Lissiana get together. At the core of this book is a pretty cool idea, but the execution is marred by annoying secondary characters and the bullshit Barbie characterization of the heroine.
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Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowen

Grade: C-

You want to write a contemporary vampire romance with a “comedic twist”? Here’s the formula: Take a big city bimbo, turn her into a vampire, have her run around the city like a decapitated chicken, stick a broody Anne Rice creep into the mix, and voila! This book has all that and more, including the stupidest heroine I’ve read about this year, but at least she knows it. Basically, she gets mad at the hero, does something stupid that almost gets her killed, then berates herself for it for several pages. Add to that a hero that has very little interaction with the heroine, some truly annoying secondary characters, and what we’ve got is something that sucks (he-he) more than Davidson’s Undead series (which is at least kind of funny). This book? Not funny. The heroine’s “antics”? Not funny.
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Stroke of Midnight by Kenyon et al

Grade: C-

I like reviewing anthologies. They’re quick, too short to get boring, and I don’t have to wade through pesky exposition to get to the meat of the story (sometimes). Besides, if the story sucks, you can just move on to the next one. It’s almost like… a box of chocolates. If you’re lucky, the one you pick up would have a cherry in the center; if you’re not so lucky, it’s maggots. This particular anthology is so-so. Only Kenyon’s piece was remotely readable, but only in a “ah, old friend, we meet again” kind of way. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. The one by L.A. Banks stirred my interest, but there was so much triflin’ shit going on at once, that I didn’t fully enjoy it. The other two were utter crap, the last of which I couldn’t even finish. Man, when Kenyon’s predictable fare is the best contribution in an anthology, the other writers should just… I don’t know, throw themselves off a bridge and hope to get eaten by a shark. Heh. I just cracked myself up.
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