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