Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Killing Dace, by Laurell K. Hamilton

I've taken quite the hiatus from this series and this was by first book back. Since it had been so long, I got a little confused about which book I was starting with, so I read a bunch of reviews trying to find out what happened in the book to make sure I wasn't rereading by mistake. (I did anyway, but that's neither here nor there) So, I'm going to use this review to talk about this book, as well as the series in general and some of the things I read while browsing reviews.

First, the series definitely has aspects of Twilight and True Blood, but came before both. Vampires, werewolves  and most things supernatural and scary are not only real but "accepted" in society. Accepted like gays are accepted: technically yes, but really, there's a lot of discrimination. Anita, the human lead, is in a love triangle with a wolf (Richard) and a vampire (Jean-Claude), a la Twilight. Unlike Twilight, however, Anita is not some helpless damsel in need to saving. She is a bad ass, gun totting  zombie raising force to be reckoned with. As the series progresses, so do her powers. She's a vampire executioner, because, lets be real, a jail isn't going to hold a vamp. She works with the cops, but isn't one. And she is definitely OK skirting the law now and then.

I noticed some complaints about Anita's character while browsing. Here's the thing, yes she is most definitely a pain in the ass. But she is Brutally honest with herself. When she makes a petty remark or has a petty thought, she calls herself on it. When she's talking big because she's afraid, she's open about that too. Even when she does things that don't make sense or contradict earlier decisions. She absolutely has character flaws. A ton even, but she's open about them. Even her violent tendencies - she's honest with herself about them too. She talks about how she's not bothered by killing, and how not being bothered bothers her. Talks about becoming a sociopath. Basically, what I'm saying, is that yes she's flawed, and her flaws can be irritating  but I think her honesty about those flaws is part of what makes her such a good character.

So, this book has a lot going on, like most of them. In a nut shell: Anita is being pursued by an assassin - for what, she has no idea (Hint: the Wolf King), and ends up killing 2 humans, which gets her in some hot water with the cops. Thank God for self defense. Meanwhile, her love life is spiraling out of control. She's dating both Richard and JC (and yes, I see the irony in calling a Vamp JC - vampires do rise in 3 days in this world though...) because JC said he'd kill Richard if she didn't give him a chance. Let's just put aside how manipulative and controlling JC is for the most part, and focus on Richard. As much as don't like JC's behavior, I find Richard worse  Probably because he's giving off the impression he's so well balanced. At least JC is open about his assholery. In this book Anita and Richard break-up. I cried. I can admit that. I wasn't a fan of Richard, but I didn't want them over either. My problem with Richard is this: He doesn't accept himself OR Anita, yet insists on Anita accepting him. He's a bit of a hypocrite.

I can back this up. There's a part when Anita is talking to JC and she comments that she's worried that if she accepts Richard's beast, he'll be horrified that she could and reject her, and if she rejects it, he'll reject her anyway because she can't accept him. And I agree. But what I DON'T think Anita realized was that Richard didn't accept her beast either. (Maybe it's her unflinching honesty about her own flaws that keeps her from seeing the flaws in Richard). He was constantly preaching about not killing and constantly stopping Anita from killing. And she was ALWAYS the one who ended up paying the price. Raina is a perfect example - Richard forcefully removes Anita's gun while she's in a pack of blood thirsty wolves so she can't kill Raina, then Raina ends up kidnapping Anita so Anita can be raped and murdered. Nice going, Richard. He's so scared of his beast and his reaction to killing, that he wants her to follow his path, too. And you can't tell me he doesn't think less of her because of her decisions in that arena. How can he hate himself for his violent tendencies and not hate her for hers? (Resent may be a better word) Especially because she's vocal about the practicalities of killing to defend yourself and others.

I don't deny that she is trying to change him either, but at the end she accepts him: he doesn't want to kill Marcus (the wolf king), and she finally backs that decision. It's just too late by then to do much different. And to hedge a little on this, I don't know if she wants to change him really, just get him to stop trying to change her: if he won't kill to protect, she will.

My verdict on Richard: I want him back. But how can he expect Anita to accept him, when he can't accept either of them? I want him back when he's ready to accept himself and her. That doesn't mean I want him as a killing machine - it's not white or black. Also, caveat, I don't really want to see JC go either. I'm fine with a polyamorous relationship :P

And what's up with Edward, her assassin friend? Will he get in on the I Love Anita action?

Polyamorous. That's all I'm sayin'...

The Killing Dance, Laurell K. Hamilton

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