Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Review: Guilty Pleasures

TITLE: Guilty Pleasures
Book 1 in the Anita Blake series
AUTHOR: Laurell K. Hamilton
GENRE: urban fantasy, vampires
PREMISE: zombie animator and slayer for hire Anita Blake gets caught up in a mystery.
MY REVIEW: I've heard of the Anita Blake series before but never had much interest in it. But I promised myself I would give all these vampire books a try this year (hence why there've been so many) so here we are. I've heard many different takes on the series. Some think it's fun, some think it's horrible, some are split. The most people seem to agree on is that it got downright awful after the tenth book or so where apparently it just turns into sex, sex, sex. Oh, I've also heard many comparisons to Sookie Stackhouse and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
So I'd like to address the comparisons first. I do see why people compare it to Sookie Stackhouse. But there's a notable difference: Sookie Stackhouse has rhyme and reason to it's chaos, an actual plot, and actual likeable characters to make up for Harris's somewhat lackluster writing. Anita Blake has none of that and is written poorly. I do give Hamilton credit because I'm pretty sure Anita Blake is one of the first big urban fantasy series of this kind. She also did have some interesting ideas floating around in this mess. However, the execution was just poor. Even for a first book. A major problem is the main character Anita Blake. Anita is a huge Mary Sue. She literally has no personality beyond I'm a major badass. While I like badass females (see Kate Daniels series), they walk a fine line between being badass and just being a cold hearted bitch sometimes. Unfortunately, Anita falls more into the spectrum of just being a cold hearted (and frankly judgemental, particularly towards her own gender) bitch. I just out right didn't like her. Especially as I saw no major reason for why she was this way. I understand why Kate Daniels was the way she was, why Katniss from Hunger Games was the way she was, but Anita has no such excuse. Unless there's a major character background reveal in the next couple of books, but I somehow doubt it. Even if there is, I don't care enough about the character to continue reading it to find out. Even the background characters don't make up for Anita because they're also two-dimensional with little personality and therefore I didn't understand any of their motivations. I mean, why exactly did Phillup even fall for Anita? She was horrible to him!
In short this book was a mess. I don't understand how people can say the series goes downhill from book 10 because from what I see the series was bad to begin with. The sex probably just made people realize it was bad. Look, I like that Hamilton did have imagination (interesting at first that it was in my hometown of St. Louis, but not so interesting when you realize it's where she lives and thus makes Anita more of an obvious self-insert). I just wish she'd work on her writing skills (her grammer and prose are horrible), her characters (less two-dimensional please and have character motivations that make freaking sense!), her plotting and pacing (please actually take time to explain things because half the time I was lost), and overall world building (wild imagination, but very little of it made sense because she didn't think it through). I will not bother with the rest of this series as apparently it gets even worse then this.
WHO SHOULD READ: vampire fans, if you actually want to I guess
MY RATING: One and a half out of Five stakes

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