Bullet (Anita Blake 19)

Monday, November 15, 2010



Bullet (Anita Blake 19)
Laurell K. Hamilton, 2010


This book is definitely NC-17. My review is merely PG-13, but I'm sticking it behind the cut anyway because it is slightly spoiler-ish, but mostly for the general trend of the series.


Premise: Anita and pals have to consolidate their power base in a hurry after they discover that the Mother of All Darkness isn't quite as dead as they'd hoped. Of course, this involves lots of sex magic.

I have such a complicated relationship with this series. I enjoyed reading this book, but at the same time it makes me crazy. It is half hackery and half great. Well, maybe a quarter hackery and a quarter great and half overly complicated sex scenes.

What I'm calling hackery is things like a conversation between two characters about an emotional issue that I swear she dealt with 5 books ago...I think with exactly the same words. Another example: using the same exact awkward phrase to describe a situation or a feeling twice in the same book. Or the same paragraph.  She doesn't seem to be using repetition for a purpose, it's just lazy writing.

Some of the situations are bizarrely formulaic. I know that whenever the characters have a big magic orgy party, they get psychically attacked by some big bad from across the seas. This is a complicated enough situation that I start to notice the umpteenth time it happens. I feel like they should have a better plan for dealing with it by now.

There's a bunch of padding in the center of the book that is just senseless whining and angst. This is boring, but at least it gives a break between magical orgies. I am also finding it difficult to follow the vampire power struggles that underlie the plot here; she's referencing events I just don't remember, and I'm not going to go back and read the crap books to figure it out.

However, some of it is great. While I think the writing is a lot less inspired than it used to be, a lot of the fundamental themes that kept me with the series up to now still hold true. I like how feudal Anita's extended group of friends, lovers and bodyguards feels. I mean, there's a strong thread through many of the books about the relationship between protection and loyalty: once a character becomes one of Anita's “people”, she'll protect them any way she can, and for that friendship she expects a certain trustworthiness and assistance when necessary.

For the first time I felt that the whole crazy web of lovers and magic-bindings and live-in sweethearts and allies hung together in a way that made sense. A hedonistic sort of crazy sense, but sense nevertheless.

I also liked that the protagonists were deciding to be proactive (for once!).

LKH has clearly heard her fans clamoring for m/m and f/f, because you get some of each here. Changing this up makes the sex scenes much better.

I got my wish for more vampires (stated in my review of Flirt). I loved seeing Anita, Jean-Claude and Richard all on stage again and standing together... that was kind of amazing. I wanted more out of their resolve, I wanted to see what they could accomplish actually working in concert toward a goal. Unfortunately, the end of the book was taken up with a lot of sex magic with tigers, which is okay, but I longed for a bit more plot.

Maybe next time?

3 Stars – A Good Book (only if you enjoy or don't mind were-animal orgies...)


PS: Am I the only person with enough different geek specialties to realize that Hamilton made her Big Bad the Tiger of All Colors and None, and to think that is really funny?

More info about Bullet at Amazon.com

5 comments:

Jon said...

If I was using your "star" system, I'd have only given this book 1 Star. I reviewed (panned) it a while back. The things missing were plot, plot and plot.
Hey, great review, though. Enjoyed reading it. Found it amusing that you and I both put our reviews below the fold for rating purposes.
I thought I was seriously geeky, but I didn't get the Tiger of All colors and None reference.
Have a great week!

Lindsay said...

I'm not saying you're wrong - there was a serious lack of plot - but I give the book some credit for being enjoyable to read. If I didn't kinda like the crazy sex scenes, I would have given up on the series long ago. If I liked them more, I wouldn't have stopped reading the Merry Gentry books.

I may be reaching here, but to me this felt like it the same kind of no-plot that also bothered me in Song of Susannah and HP and the Half-Blood Prince. It felt like a set-up book for whatever's coming next, just the author assembling the pieces on the board. We'll see, though. I could easily be giving her too much credit.

(and I'm partially joking about the Tiger of all colors and None, but ever since I found out Hamilton wrote for Ravenloft back in the day, I think D&D (as well as Vampire:tM, of course) when I read her stuff, and couldn't resist a little Dragonlance allusion.)

Jon said...

Although it may seem off-topic, one of the problems with this series is the same one I noticed with LaHaye's Left Behind stuff. The first half dozen were really good, and the events in each novel took place over weeks or months of time. Later on, the time covered by each book shrank to the point where there was only one day's events described in the book. I feel like that now - lots of descriptive and emotional content, but very little that moves the plot forward, moves character development forward, etc.
You're absolutely correct in that LKH is always enjoyable to read - she's an extremely good writer. I just don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth these days. The first half dozen books in the series, I've re-read three or four times, and enjoyed them all over again. The newer stuff, I don't think I'll ever re-read, unless it's for reference purposes, to figure out "what has gone before".

Lindsay said...

I completely understand. I quit the Merry Gentry series around book three, I think, one where nothing happened and almost no time passed. Also, I would probably be a little harsher if I weren't just getting these out of the library. ;)

Jon said...

Ooh, that might be a good question for a Hop sometime. "Are you tougher on a book that you paid hardback prices for than one you borrow from a library, or get for free somehow?"

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