Friday, 30 November 2012

Kiss the Dead

Level: Explicit
Genre: Urban Fantasy > Vampire
Obtained: Borrowed from a friend
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

Can't look away from heaving cleavage... Is it a great cover? No. However, I do think it works for the recent Anita Blake books, and it's certainly a step up from the Hit List cover. Kiss the Dead continues the same look and feel as Hit List, but unlike Hit List, Kiss the Dead doesn't look at it was slapped together at the last minute. Personally, I think the worst thing this cover has going for it is the model's vacant expression. Well, that and she looks a bit cheap, but this is a post Narcissus in Chains Anita Blake book we are talking about so cheap works. I have to admit I really like the lettering in the tears and the texture on the girl. It gives it something extra, a bit of grime and grit, if you will. Of course, this cover is bound to bring some blush to a few cheeks since it screams you are reading something naughty, but at the same time, this cover ought to bring in those that would be interested in the newer Anita Blake books.

About the Book:
In the 21st installment of the Anita Blake series, Anita finds out some disconcerting news while she is rescuing a kidnapped girl. It turns out there is a large group of vampires made mainly of teenagers, soccer moms, and grannies, that are living without a master. They are quite adamant about never having one and therefore refuse an oath to Jean-Claude. Meanwhile, Anita is still having personal issues concerning her men, mainly Cynric. Anita is still rather upset about how young he is and the fact that he loves her but she's not sure if she loves him. At least, not in the same way.

Rating: 3/10
Wow. I actually didn't hate this book as much as I anticipated. Of course, with the more recent Anita Blake books being utter dreck, my expectations were extremely low. Of course, just because I didn't dislike the book as much as I expected did not mean I would say it was good. This book still had plenty of points that had me seething, Some have been annoyances with me since Guilty Pleasures, such as the hatred of women and Anita constantly saying how guy she is (IE "It took us one sentence, two looks, and a nod -- with another woman it would have been at least five minutes of out-loud talking. Lucky for me I spoke fluent guy."). Sure this issue has only gotten worse as the series progressed, but it has always been there. Then, we have the whole Anita getting into a tiff with authority, because they are prejudiced against her due to the fact that she is sleeping with the monsters, is half Mexican, is polyamorous (polyandrous maybe), is a woman, is take your pick. Now, this has irritated me for many books now, but not as much with Kiss the Dead. The reason for this was mainly because the "brass" Anita was arguing with were actually quite pleasant and honestly, the concerns they did have were justified (for more on this check out my post).

The other major tiffs I had were specifically with this book. Now, I am not going to go into every little one, but here are some major irritants of mine. The first of these involved Larry Kirkland. For those who are unaware of who he is, he is also a vampire hunter/animator, and he was trained as a hunter by Anita. Throughout their relationship, Anita and Larry have had many disagreements yet remained friends. First off, that is flushed down the toilet in this book. However, this is far from the first time that LKH has had a character act, well, out of character. What had me grumbling was that not a single person sided with Larry, including the newly introduced Marshal Brice. Now, you might expect RPIT to side  with Anita against a stranger or someone they dislike, but this is Larry, and it is never shown that the cops had an issue with before hand. 

The second issue I'd like to focus on in Cynric. The Cynric issue seems to be one that hits the nerves of several people since Anita originally slept with him when he was a sixteen year old virgin. I never had a huge problem  with this since both Cynric and Anita had been mind fucked by the original vampire herself, Marmee Noir (though there are plenty of arguements that point out that is probably could have been prevented, but I am not going to get into that here). The fact is that Anita did not choose for Cynric to be that young. Now that he is eighteen, Anita had agreed to take him in as a lover and his guardian. Because those two things mix so well... In fact, Anita and Cynric even have a conversation about it. After they come to a conclusion (where Sin tells Anita to stop going to parent teacher conferences), what is literally seconds later, Anita is pawing and rubbing up against Sin (aka Cynric). Now, I have absolutely no objection to the age difference, but do remember that Cynric and Anita had just finished having a conversation where Anita felt that she was too much of a parent figure to also be Cynric's lover so needless to say, those thoughts of him being in the child type position more than likely would still be fresh in her mind. However, we are supposed to believe that Anita is wigged out about being Cynric's lover while being his guardian when she starts snogging him seconds after the conversation. Yeah, don't think so...

Now, I am going to go into one final tiff that was specifically Kiss the Dead (though the longer I work on this review, the more issues I am realising exist). Again, this deals with another character Hamilton has completely ruined. I am speaking of the once snarky and once likable Asher.

In this book, Asger now has a boyfriend (Dev/Devil ... yeah, I'm sure you are wondering who that even is), but Dev also wants to see women. Apparently, Asher is very jealous and wants Dev to be with him and him alone. This causes Pod Asher to start acting up, and he ends up cutting Anita's lip to the point where she would have needed stitches if she didn't heal super fast. First off, the wound was only as bad as it was because Anita loves Asher too much to hurt him. This is from the once tough as nails vampire hunter who may have hesitated at killing Jean-Claude at one point but not hurting him if needed. However, she suddenly can't hurt Asher to defend herself, because she loves him too much. Don't worry. The stupid only worsens. So because of Asher attacking Anita and wounding her lip, she is now unable to perform oral. The outrage! There can only be one punishment! Asher must leave for another city by tomorrow. Okay, it's only supposed to be for a month, but it's still utterly ridiculous. Just ...


Okay, okay ... for those of you who have read my other reviews should know by now that I try to find both good and bad in every book, and even with all the issues that this book holds, I did not have to overtax my brain to think of some good. In fact, compared to the recent Anita Blake books, I think this one was grand. Kiss the Dead, first off, actually had a plot (I had a plot once! It ended up biting me and running away). What's more is this plot took up about half the book ... Well, stuff that related to the plot, but for a post Narcissus in Chains book, that is quite the feat. We also get Anita working with RPIT again, Of course, all the women are jealous of Anita, and all the men think Anita is the toughest and bestest there ever was, but it was really nice to see old friends. I will admit that I found myself grinning when Zerbrowski was on the page. Besides seeing old faces, it was also nice to see Anita doing some police work through a good chunk of the book. Have I mentioned there was also some sort of plot? An author should not make me this excited about having a plot, even a weak one.

Now, as much as I was excited there was a plot, I did feel it fell flat. As noted in the summary, Anita ends up running into a group ... sorry, a kiss of vampires that refuse to be blood oathed to Jean-Claude. That could have been terribly exciting and would have even given Anita the excuse to internalise her problems. She could wonder why this kiss was so adamant to not be oathed to Jean-Claude and Anita. Perhaps Anita and co. aren't as good as they think they are. All of this potential is overlooked, however, so we are left a fairly poor plot. Speaking of missed potential, Anita's constant angsting of whether she is a monster or not. Now, a lot of people have complained how repetitive this ordeal was (both within the series and in this book). I do agree that it is brought up way too often. However, if there was actually a solution to it (besides Anita's lover patting her on the back and telling her that she isn't a monster and that she is overly wonderful), I don't really think I would have minded it so much. Instead, we are bombarded with "monster, monster, am I a monster?" but no answer to it or even really seeing Anita actually take the time to think on it.

Now, with me looking at the overuse of the "am I a monster?" drama, I now would like to focus on more general overusage and repetition. What was the editor doing during this book?! I'll tell you one thing, he certainly wasn't doing his job. Okay, I understand giving a brief reminder of what a character looks like or who they are, especially for those new to the series (though why they are starting at book 21 is beyond me). Key word: brief! We also do not need twenty million reminders. We certainly do not need to be reminded two pages later (this is not an exaggeration). What's worse is that Laurell K. Hamilton isn't just repeating just the eye or hair colour. No, she literally repeats the entire paragraph! Even from the beginning, the Anita Blake series had some issues with repetition (bench press a Toyota, anyone?), but no where near as bad as this. Seriously, if you removed all the repeated descriptions, I would not be surprised is Kiss the Dead ended up half its size. Hell, I would put money on it. There is also the overly detailed desciptions. I am actually one of those people that love knowing what a character looks like, but there is a point where it becomes too much. Not only were the physical descriptions repeated too often, but they went into so much excessive detail that I was bored to tears. Hamilton actually tells us what Cynric's hair looks like in the sinlight versus what it looks like in the dark. Again, I love physical details, but this is too much.

I could continuemore, but this review is already quite lengthy. I found Kiss the Dead to more interesting than the last few Anita Blake installements. I didn't find myself grinding my teeth through most of this book either. Kiss the Dead still had lots of problems, both new and old, and a good amount of missed potential. This book is still far from the charm that the earlier Anita Blake books had, but it is a step in the right direction. For an Anita Blake novel, Kiss the Dead isn't bad, but in general, it's still pretty rank.

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  1. Very good review!

    What frustrated me in this book was that the Cynric/Anita relationship feels so forced in there. The thing that initially worked with the Nathaniel/Anita relationship was that it just felt a little more natural than this. Of course this was when the books were better than they are now, but it felt more organic.

    This? This just feels like LKH is trying to be edgy by bringing in Cynric or is trying to spice up the books by bringing in a new factor. This ultimately fails because if bringing in new men could do that, the books would be far more interesting than they are now. Rather than being hot for Cynric, Anita just seems sort of bored with the entire thing. It just felt like it was more of an "Oh, alright. You're here, I'm here, a flat surface is here so it may as well be go time" type of thing. I mean, this is supposed to be a relationship that Anita is entering into despite her reservations, which means that she's supposed to be drawn to Cynric like he's the last drop of water in the world. It's supposed to be a matter of him being irresistible and that just isn't here. Instead of being something interesting, it just becomes something dull and boring, akin to the multiple times she tried to make Jason into a potential full-time lover for Anita.

  2. I think a big problem with the series is Anita Blake is flat out narcissistic