Saturday, July 7, 2012
Audio Review: Kiss the Dead by Laurell K Hamilton
Title: Kiss the Dead (Anita Blake #21)
Author: Laurell K Hamilton
Narrator: Kimberly Alexis
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
It's been a while since I've really found anything to unequivocally like about the Anita Blake series, but I have to say that I absolutely adore the narrator for the series, Kimberly Alexis. She's absolutely fabulous and pretty much the only reason I was able to make it through the book as a whole.
Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton returns with another exciting, thrilling and addictive adventure for her vampire hunting heroine Anita Blake. I knew without doubt that if any more of the vampires tried to attack us I'd kill them, too, regardless of apparent age, race, sex, or religious affiliations. I was an equal-opportunity executioner; I killed everybody. My name is Anita Blake and I am a vampire hunter and necromancer, as well as a US Marshal. So when a fifteen-year-old girl is abducted by vampires, it's up to me to find her. And when I do, I'm faced with something I've never seen before: a terrifyingly ordinary group of people - kids, grandparents, soccer moms - all recently turned and willing to die to avoid serving their vampire master. And where there's one martyr, I know there will be more...But even vampires have monsters that they're afraid of. And I'm one of them...
One of the biggest problems for the series is that Hamilton is too repetitive, which is also one of the biggest problems for Kiss the Dead. She pelts the reader with description after description of the hair, eyes, and clothes of various characters. Some of this wouldn't be so bad except that Hamilton will re-describe characteristics that she's already described earlier in the book. I felt like screaming every time she beat me over the head with the "natural born tigers have tiger eyes, it's a sign of purity to them" bit, which she re-states over and over and over again. I think I actually screamed "I *got* it, Laurell. I haven't forgotten that!" at one point.
The constant references to Anita as a "guy" was pretty annoying as well. For some reason at least a third to a fourth of the book (if not more) is taken up by Anita and others talking and thinking about how she's presumably one of the only women on earth capable of understanding guys or being able to do "guy code". Women are routinely painted as creatures who must talk about their feelings for a half hour in order to get a point across and men that can't instantly get information from other guys they know are painted up as wimps or lesser. I've ignored this for the most part, but it just seemed a little overly offensive at times in this book. I know that Hamilton doesn't mean for it to come across as such and really only wants to use it to make Anita more special and more tough, but it's really just annoying. Even worse, it's boring. If it was just annoying it could be used to enhance the book, but at this point it's such an over stated and redundant character point that I just felt bored and was tempted to fast forward past this part.
The other downfall of the book was Hamilton's attempts to force the character of Anita into specific situations. I'm guessing that Cynric (now dubbed "Sin") is going to become the latest serious sweetie in a chain of others. Now I'm fully aware of his controversial introduction, but that actually didn't play too much into this. It's just that I can't quite see him as someone Anita is supposedly going to maybe fall in love with. I see Anita liking him and enjoying the sex, but love? Nah. There's actually less romantic tension between them than there is/was with Anita and Jason. I just can't help but get the feeling that Hamilton is trying to push a romance between them and I'm not sure why. There's really no point to it and his character isn't interesting enough (even with the controversy) to where he really needs to be such a central focus.
What makes the above so frustrating is that Hamilton pours over all of this, extending it out for chapters at a time. It made the book tedious, which is a shame: there's some good points to this book that would've really shone if it was about 100 pages shorter. One of the things I enjoyed about Flirt was that it was a novella and as such, cut through all of the nonsense that Hamilton usually tries to fit into her books. We're given some good plot points, such as vampires that want to be "free" of any master, a potential resolution to the Asher drama, and control over the ardeur and new dangers it might hold. It's just that these are mostly and inexplicably moved to the side in favor of dragging out the same tired old relationship dramas, the boring and repetitive praising of Anita, and monotonous sex scenes.
I do have to say that Hamilton does seem to be slowly, very slowly improving, but this isn't enough for me to jump aboard the Anita Blake bandwagon again. However, as long as the marvelous Kimberly Alexis continues to narrate the books, I'll continue to check out the audiobooks from my library. I absolutely love her voice and her reading style. I guess I'll just hope that Hamilton will eventually dig herself out from the rut she's fallen into and will give Alexis a book that will do her voice justice.
Two out of four stars