Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”

This week we finished up our 9th book on our reading challenge, and the last of our Halloween themed reading for October.

By the way, Happy Halloween (belated) my friends! This week has been a busy one for my family! My mom and two younger sisters came into town, suffering 12 hour drives (my mom from NY, my sisters from FL) to be with us for our favorite holiday. Our family is very Irish (only a few generations removed), and Halloween is very much part of our Druid blood! We haven’t missed a year dressing up in my 26 Halloweens! This year, my girls set the pace, choosing “Star Wars” as our theme! Check out our costumes

Image

Left to right we have: Mom as C3PO, Tanya at Obi Wan Kenobi, Scarlett (4) as Princess Leia, Me (Regina) as Han Solo, Karina as Darth Vader, and Annabelle (3) as Luke Skywalker. I swear this was all their idea! We’re so proud of our little nerdlings.

ANYWAY….

This weeks’ reading was Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire “chick lit” (books for women), Guilty Pleasures. The novel follows vampire slayer Anita Blake, known to the St. Louis vampire community as The Executioner. Anita lives in a modern world (well, the 90s, when everyone still carried pagers), where vampires and all sorts of supernatural beings are part of mainstream society, protected by American law and a functioning part of the country. Anita refuses to accept that these beings are anything but evil, and seeks to destroy the vampire undercurrent in the city.

Image

I have mixed feelings about Hamilton’s book. I’m having a hard time writing this review, because this book was loaned to me by a very well-meaning (and well-read) friend, Katrina, who has read the entire Anita Blake series (apparently there’s dozens of these books), and I feel like if I insult is book, I’m insulting my friend. Let me say, before I start, that on the whole, I enjoyed the book, and am glad I borrowed it. I’d probably give the second in the series a chance as a way to convince me to become a fan of Hamilton’s series. I appreciated Hamilton’s imagination – there was non-stop action, and Hamilton introduces different supernatural beings I would never have considered to be part of mainstream society… besides vampires, there are were-animals (wolves and rats, to name the ones in this book), ghouls, zombies… and Anita herself is a trained “animator,” able to raise the deceased using a sort of voodoo magic. I have to praise Hamilton’s ability to suck you into the story, and Anita is a very strong female character who takes no BS and isn’t sucked into romance (a nice break from the Twilights and Sookie Stackhouses of the “vampire, fantasy chick lit” genre).

I did have a few issues with the book, if I’m being honest. The first actually relates to the “strong female character” that is Anita Blake. She’s almost too strong, in a kind of “get off your high horse” way. I found her really tough to relate to. Her internal monologue got a little old as well (she uses and re-uses a lot of cliche sayings, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the overuse of the same expressions throughout the book). I also had an issue with the amount of action. Stories generally have an ebb and flow – particularly stories that are “high action” – to give the reader (and the characters) a chance to catch their breath and process what just happened. There was really no break in Guilty Pleasures. The action was continuous, and I felt like it was a little disjointed. I found myself reading and having to stop, turn the pages back, and try to figure out what the heck was happening. It was all kind of muddled together, and there was no defined lines between “action scenes.” I felt the beginning half of the book was one big blur of action, and by the second half, Hamilton kind of got her story together, and clarified her writing style. I feel a little guilty judging an author’s writing style because, truth be told, Hamilton is a much better writer, and about 1,000 times more creative, than I could ever hope to be.

That being said, on the whole, I enjoyed Guilty Pleasures. The characters were very well developed – everyone from Anita to the cast of vampires, and even the small supporting characters of Anita’s friends, well all well defined and creative. They all felt like “real people,” that’s for sure. I have a feeling the series gets better along the way, and that Hamilton masters her craft throughout the different books. These books have a HUGE following, and there has to be a reason why. I would recommend this book to a 20-something woman looking for a quick read that she doesn’t have to invest too much brain power or energy into, simply because the pages turn quickly, the language is simple, and the story is creative enough to get you sucked in, but not leave you exhausted after reading it (think the opposite of the time consuming and exhausting Game of Thrones).

How about you? Did you read along? Have you read this book before? What are you thoughts? Am I being too harsh on Anita Blake, and Hamilton in general? Share what you felt about this book – maybe I missed something!

 

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

6 responses to “Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”

  1. Haley

    I have read all of these and I love Anita. I love that she’s tactless, not-PC, bias, bitchy, and wants to kill everything. I completely relate to a tiny, woman-hating, sarcastic, gun nut. She’s got reasons for her trust/men/sex/love issues that come up ad nauseam in later books. The clichés do continue as well as unnecessary repetition. There are a lot of problems with the series but I keep reading them anyway, unsure if it’s because I love the books or am just invested at this point…

    The series goes from anti-sex to nicely smutty to hardcore (and if you enjoy good sex without the buildup or self-deprecating, LKH’s Merry Gentry series is non-stop smut from the very beginning but has some of the same writing issues). I enjoy the hardcore same as the tame stuff so it doesn’t bother me but Hamilton jumped the shark. Looks to be coming back around now, though.

    I enjoy Anita’s job as an animator and helping the police. I think Hamilton does a great job of character development. I can look at a list and “see” each one individually in looks and personality. I am very interested in the politics of the subsets of vamps and weres. These are incredibly easy reads that I can finish one in a lazy day. While I will continue to read them, because I must compulsively finish every series I start, I only recommend them if you have the time for 20+ books and can stomach the middle ones where the sex and guilt take over and there is a lot of scanning going on.

    • Anita’s not my cup of tea, but I can see how other people love her! I just felt like Hamilton was trying too hard to write a strong female lead, and all her strength kind of turned me off.

      I’ll be honest – I’m probably not going to continue reading the series… I just couldn’t get past all the repetition and terrible use of exhausting expressions. Thanks for the heads up about the “middle” books. Sex and smut doesn’t bother me, but I just don’t think I’ll be reading these books because I don’t like the writing style, more so than an issue with the plot line.

  2. Kathleen Werner

    The book was too manic for me. I lost it when the Wererat appeared. I can get behind the idea of a Werewolf, but can’t wrap my mind around any other werecreature. I guess I am a traditionalist

  3. Pingback: “Shutdown” by Laurell K Hamilton | MOONWATER PRESS

  4. Pingback: Book Review: “One for the Money” | my Year in (book) Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s