Tuesday, June 8, 2010

HBIC Review: Bloodlover

That's right, TWO REVIEWS for you today, of the two books being featured for Vampire Week at Blog with Bite!

Up first:

Title: Bloodlover
Author: Nancy Kilpatrick
Page Count: 234 pages
Publisher: Mosaic Press
Genre: Paranormal romance, horror
Copy for review provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

50 words or less: Julien is 500 years old and at this point even apathy has become boring. Jeannette is a perky little lady in 1960s London, and their worlds are about to get tossed in the blender in a serious way.

If I had to pick one word to describe my feelings at the end of Bloodlover, it would be...indecisive. I classify this book as paranormal romance because it's about a relationship that develops between two paranormal people, but it's definitely not mainstream in its tastes, in its writing, or in its presentation of some common themes. If the fighting in Twilight is violent in your eyes, then you need to put this book down and walk away, right now. There were a few parts that had me blinking. Do you see the Scandalous Books designation? Ye be warned.

This sword cuts both ways- on the one side, there's nothing wrong with a book that's dark, waaaay dark, or that presents the paranormal in a way that's more in keeping with Dracula than Bella and Edward. One of my favorite things about the paranormal genre is that there are literally endless possibilities when it comes to plot and character configurations, or to incorporating rules and elements from previous works. The author does a nice job with this, taking common tropes of the vampire genre (the garlic thing, conversion, the relationship between a made vampire and the sire, etc.) and presenting them in a way that I certainly hadn't seen before.

On the other side, I felt that this book spent a lot of time trying to be something that the length, the characters, and the story development did not support. Not everybody likes their vampires vegetarian and empathetic and living happily ever after, and I totally support that; however, I felt like I spent a lot of time flipping through mini-treatises on what vampires are supposed to be and sections that felt like they were there just for shock value instead of getting to know the characters and feeling something for them.

Julien is a textbook example of an anti-hero. He's dark (and not in a good way), brooding, selfish, spoiled, and totally okay with using violence as a way to control the people around him. Changing someone against their will is a common element in PNR, but Julien takes it to a new, violent place that was borderline squicky, which is where the horror designation came in for me. All of it stems from Julien believing that no woman would ever want to be with him unless he forced her to submit; the conflict of the story evolves from him having to come to grips with the fact that Jeannette might actually want to be with him voluntarily.

Oh, Jeannette. She evolves from being a total bubblehead at the beginning of the book to being calculating and shrewd at the end; what starts off as a revenge trip to stick it to Julien for changing her against her will goes awry when, unsurprisingly, she falls for him. Neither of them will admit it, though, and the second half of the book is a whole lot of wandering and meandering and loathing and ruminating and not a whole lot of plot developing. Julien and Jeannette find their way, and they find a lifestyle they both can live with, but I wish we'd gotten to that point a lot sooner.

There were also a lot, and I mean, a lot, of typographical errors and formatting mistakes. I realize that this is not always in one person's control, but it definitely detracted from my reading experience and was frequent enough to be very noticeable.

There are certainly some exciting and redeeming parts of this story, and as I read I was anxious to find out how it all worked out, but even after writing this review, I cound myself as indecisive still.

Overall Grade: C
Blog With Bite rating: 2/4