Sunday, April 7, 2013

Narcissus in Chains, Laurell K. Hamilton

I just don't know what to say about this one. A lot happens, and Anita seems pleased at the end, I'm just not there. Of course, maybe I'm just missing her sarcasm this time. It does seems she's letting Jean-Claude feed the aduer from her now - from each other, really.

So, we open with Anita on vacation still – an idea she got when in New Mexico with Edward in Obsidian Butterfly to avoid burning out. She has a fight with Ronnie because Ronnie is yet again lobbying for Richard. She does this by reminding Anita what a monster JC is. One thing she seems to forget though: Anita had the same opinion of weres/shifters back in the day. If Ronnie wants Anita to go back to that, she needs to understand that not only is Richard out of the picture too, but Ronnie's BF, Louie, is in the same boat. Which means, Ronnie is preaching against herself.

Anyway, it's not really important, just an indication of Anita having being further removed from who she was. Then she has to leave Ronnie to go save Nathaniel. Again. First, she asked JC for help, including marrying the marks. Richard is there too, of course. And they all finally seem happy. For like a minute.

While saving Nathaniel and some swans (yup people can turn into swans too), Gregory, a leopard, claws her. She almost dies, and when she's wakes up, everyone thinks she's infected and going to turn on the full moon. Because of this, Richard has lost his shit (again) and taken Gregory captive for killing the packs lupa – which would be Anita. Not only is Anita not dead, but there's no confirmation she's even infected yet. Jumping the gun is an understatement. It's all just BS and temper. Because of Richards morals again, there's been a vote and the pack votes that Anita isn't lupa, that in effect she's dead, and that Gregory killed her.

I'm all for democracy, but it doesn't really seem to work for a wolf pack.

While she's heeling and unconscious a lot is happening. There's a new leopard pard in town, with a hunky leader, Micah. They help heel her. Then she sleeps with the leader about 10 minutes after meeting him. Anita the prude is very upset about that. However, she goes and gets JC out of jail for her murder and then goes to learn about her new powers, including the aduer, which is why she slept with the leopard leader so fast.

So, Anita of course saves Gregory. Richard doesn't select a new lupa. However, he's not pleased about Micah. But there's this one shining moment when Richard and Anita are on the same page. When you think they might be able to do it. Spoiler: they don't.

Richard and Anita end up sleeping together after Richard breaks down about one of his wolves killing her husband the first time they have sex. Well, her first time period. All because Richard couldn't make the hard decisions. Shocking, huh? Then in the AM when they wake and the aduer is there, Anita feeds on him and Richard leaves, telling her he can't be with someone who's more comfortable with the monsters than he is. Thing is, it was kinda his choice. He knew about the adeur, knew it would happen in the morning, never said no, and could have stopped her if he had opened the marks instead. In a way, it's kind of a mirror of Anita running from him when he changed the first time. Except more cruel somehow – maybe because Richard knows exactly how that felt, maybe because of what he said. Maybe just because they seemed to finally be getting their shit together. All I could think was: "Damn it, Richard."

Turns out the new pard is actually under the influence of a bad guy, who Anita obviously takes out. She also saves Richard, which he's pissed about because he was letting himself die, he'd given up. He hates himself so much that he wants to die.

In the end, Anita is not infected. Richard is alive and still leading the pack. There is no lupa, but Anita is in a position that amounts to doing what needs to be done for the pack so Richard can keep his hands clean. The new pard sticks around. Anita is dating Micah and JC and seems content. And she has basically given up on a relationship with Richard – though she's right that he needs to accept himself and her, and she can't make him do that.

Can you see why I feel more sad than happy at the end?

A couple over all things. One, Anita finally gets some of the emotional growth I've been hoping for. It's almost as if Hamilton knows what I want and gives it to me. J Too bad these books were written years ago. There are two specific points in the beginning which really stand out for me. One is when Anita admits how terrified she was when she found out what cutting herself off from the boys had actually done to them – how vulnerable the boys were, how many challenges they'd dealt with in her absence  The other was when she was talking to JC for this first time since she walked away, and she confesses her fears, specifically about their relationship and the marks. I was really glad to see her open up about herself and not try to just put up this tough girl wall. Also, before talking to JC, she's having trouble finding him and finally realizes there's a possibility he may be avoiding her. There is this other part, where she's thinking about her faith and how she has this deal that if God's ok with it, she has to be, too. And she realizes that all this time she'd been debating about her choice in men, but never prayed about it. Normally, though I am a Christian, I don't tend to like anything with a touch of preach in it. However, I felt this really suited Anita's character and made a good point. She's also confronted with the fact that she doesn't like to be different and how that can make others feel about themselves – how it can make people feel like freaks.

Additionally, she finally kind of wakes up about her own role in how screwed up everything is. She's created a mess by leaving for so long; by cutting herself off from the boys and from their people. For example, Damian the vamp goes rogue because she cuts him off and she is effectively his master. They end up having to lock him in a cross-chained coffin while she's gone. There are so many other examples and it's good to see her realizing her role and trying to fix it. There was no doubt she would, but still. I like to see her taking responsibility. She also has a kind of realization when Micah and JC meet – or right before. She's trying to figure out how to act around both of them and finally decides to just act like she would if the other wasn't there. She figured being careful with Richard and JC had fucked everything sideways, so why not try something new?

There was also a really profound feminist moment that ties back to my review of Obsidian Butterfly. After marrying the marks, Richard, Anita and JC are kind of in this beautiful bubble of understanding. While in this bubble, JC remembers an awful part of his life when he was beaten and abused, physically and sexually, basically anyone's play thing that wanted him, and he accidentally shares these memories with Anita and Richard. They are equally as horrified about this, but Richard starts crying, actually even protects JC. Anita thinks about their different in reactions. She thinks it's horrible of course, but she says she takes it better because she's a woman – she's always known she can be beaten and raped – but that Richard is a man, and maybe it shocked him more because he never really thought it could happen to him, to a guy. Now in reality everyone knows men and women can both be raped and both rape, but it is true that men don't think of it as as much of a threat as women. At least that's how it seems.

As I said, I'm just kinda….saddened by this book. I'm glad Anita hasn't abandoned the pack. And she's also created a coalition between the different shifters so they can share information and cooperation. That's all well and good, but I don't like that she's given up on Richard. I don't mind that Micah is part of her life, he accepts her and I can appreciate that. I just don't want her to give up on Richard. One, he's part of the triumvirate, so he's never going to be totally out of her life. Two, I want him to accept himself. And three, I want him to accept her. I want them both to find that kind of love and acceptance in each other. I want them to find peace.

It's super sappy, I know. Yet, that's really how this book makes me feel. I hope their relationship can be salvaged. I do agree with Anita one thing: they can't keep doing this to each other. They need to break up for good, or be together for real. I'm hoping for the later.

Narcissus in Chains, Laurell K. Hamilton

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