Tuesday, 26 February 2008

‘No Humans Involved’ – Kelley Armstrong (Orbit Books)


It’s been years since I read anything by Kelley Armstrong, I can’t remember the name of the book but I know there were werewolves involved and I had fun reading it. Enough fun to make me pick up ‘No Humans Involved’ to see if I’d been missing anything while I’d been off reading other stuff. Had I been missing out? Well, yes and no…
Jaime Vegas is a renowned spiritualist taking part in a reality TV show where the highlight will be raising the ghost of Marilyn Monroe. The problem is, Jaime is actually able to talk to the dead (unlike her colleagues) and this can be a real issue when the house she is working in is full of ghosts and they all want her attention. If this wasn’t bad enough; Jaime finds herself drawn to the garden where something terrible took place not so long ago. Jaime has plenty of friends to help her solve this mystery but there are also plenty of people who would rather that the secret remains just that…
‘No Humans Involved’ takes place within the larger universe of Armstrong’s ‘Otherworld’ series and, although the story stands well enough on it’s own, I did feel slightly overwhelmed by the number of characters (from other books) who turned up to help Jaime. Each of these came with their own little slice of history and sometimes Armstrong’s need to introduce characters to new readers (like me!) got in the way of the story itself. Although the relationships between characters were handled pretty well (a clear line between women being independent but acknowledging their own needs) it also felt as if every single character of note was in a relationship or had designs on one with someone. I guess this can happen in a long running series but it felt a little contrived to me. I’m sure that even necromancers and werewolves have more things going on in their lives than just a desire to get together with the nearest available person… Which brings me to my dislike of ‘unnecessary sex scenes in urban fantasy’, you know the score so I’m not going to bore you with the details again. Suffice it to say that I was told there would be a ‘too much information scene’ in the book and there certainly was one. Different people read these books for different reasons, I was having fun with the plot and found certain scenes just derailed it…
The story itself is a good one, certainly good enough for me to want to finish the book off (instead of going back to sleep) when I woke up early this morning. As well as being urban fantasy, ‘No Humans Involved’ is also a neat little detective story that drew me along by carefully doling out as many questions as answers. The climax was almost an anti-climax though; things were tied up too neatly with an over-reliance on certain supernatural characters.
‘No Humans Involved’ is a flawed (as far as I could see) but ultimately entertaining read, good for both the daily commute and a quiet evening at home. I’ve got Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Personal Demon’ waiting to be read and probably won’t leave it too long before picking it up.

Seven out of Ten

2 comments:

SQT said...

This actually isn't one of Armstrong's better books. I think the characters and the action are more believable in the earlier 3-4 books. But overall, I think the series has kept some consistency.

Sara said...

I too have problems with urban fantasy's too much sex for no good reason. If it serves a reason for characterization or plot--fine. But sometimes it seems to keep happening because some writers can't pull enough plot together to interest anyone! If it's billed as erotica, that's different.

Anyhow... I could go on as well, but I will try not to ;)