Thursday, 8 May 2008

‘Blood Noir’ – Laurell K. Hamilton (Orbit Books)


I’ll own up to being more than a little na├»ve when I picked this book up. This is supposed to be a week about romance in Fantasy/Sci-fi and I thought to myself, “Anita Blake has loads of boyfriends; she has to love at least one of them…” Maybe she does and maybe she doesn’t; we will never find an answer in ‘Blood Noir’, a book that makes me want to go to the police and report a case of ‘Wilful abuse and neglect of plot’…
Let’s have a quick look at the plot first as I thought there was a lot of potential here for some cool stuff to happen. Anita and Jason (a were-wolf) take a trip out of town so Jason can say a final goodbye to his terminally ill father. Unfortunately for Jason he’s the spitting image of his cousin, the wayward son of a Governor running for President and target for vampire assassins. A clever plot about mistaken identity looks like it could be on the cards but Hamilton ignores this for nearly the whole book, preferring instead to concentrate on how much sex Anita can have in three hundred and forty pages. This is quite a lot of sex considering how often it is used as an answer to life’s little problems. For example, is your best friend having a crisis in his personal life? Simply agree to his plea for sex (because that’s going to sort everything out isn’t it?) and then let him watch you and your boyfriend play bondage games. Talking of which, unless you’re writing a pornographic novel then I really don’t see the need for the level of detail that Hamilton is prepared to go to. I’m in no way conceited enough to think that this review will come to her attention but if it does, “Ms. Hamilton, we get it! They’re having sex, sometimes they even enjoy it. You really don’t need to tell us how they do it and what they do it with…” I don’t even want to talk about the ‘almost rape’ scene, suffice it to say that there is such a scene and a little part of me died when I read it…
The rest of the book boils down to Anita either having sex with people or getting into situations where her ‘sex power’ attracts the wrong kind of people. It’s like a ‘Carry On’ film but without the humour, especially when security guards (from various agencies) decide that they all want in as well… In fact the only time that Anita doesn’t have sex is because a two day ‘sex bender’ has rendered her physically incapable of the act, she obviously needs to learn to pace herself…
The plot is given the barest acknowledgement throughout the book which makes things difficult if your aim to skim read the sex stuff and get to the story. Anita comes under attack from a very powerful vampire but this seems to have nothing to do with the story and is only there to set up something for a later book. What made me laugh though (a hollow laugh of despair) is that, around forty pages off the end of the book; Hamilton suddenly remembers the ‘mistaken identity’ thing and has to quickly come up with something to address this. It’s rushed and only serves to show the reader what Hamilton could have done with the story if her mind wasn’t on other stuff instead.
I’ve been asked why I put myself through this and all I can really say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s like watching the aftermath of a natural disaster on TV, painful on the eyes but you just can’t look away…
No more for me though, I’ve done my time and there is a lot more Urban Fantasy out there which is worth looking at. What really bugs me is that this series could be quite an entertaining read if it hadn’t gone in the direction it has.

Two out of Ten

Ten out of Ten if you’re into books where the heroine is so busy having sex that she forgets to take her contraceptive pill…

14 comments:

Tia Nevitt said...

I think her novels classify as erotica. Or, more accurately I guess, dark erotica fantasy.

Penny Dreadful said...

You know of course that the chowderheads in LKH's camp are going to snip your review and use ONLY the "10 out of 10"?

daydream said...

Well you know that like Tia says, she writes erotica. Many people have said that about Anita Blake books and many people have raised the screw marathon issue. I am so glad that when I contacted Penguin I didn't mention I wanted part of Hamilton's work.

SQT said...

Hamilton gets the "Ugh" review from me. Too much! Put it in the erotica section so we know what we're getting into.

Graeme Flory said...

Penny Dreadful (great name by the way!) - They can use that bit if it makes them feel better, I will always know differently... ;o)

Seraphim said...

Her earlier books showed such promise (and story line...) I wonder if her husband (at the time) was the one really writing them....

Jeroen Lapre' said...

Thank god for your review. I was going to read this because I was hoping and praying for a change in direction and some character and plot developments. You just saved me a trip to the library to get this.

Graeme Flory said...

Pleased to be of service Jeroen :o)

Queen of the Nile said...

I have always been a huge fan of LKH and always liked the dark erotica part but Blood Noir felt very unsatisfying, which is funny, considering how much sex was involved. She's moving into a world of violent abusive sex that I am not willing ot follow her into. I wish she go back to her roots of zombie raising, vampire staking and fantastical creatures from forgotten mythologies.

Anonymous said...

I remember when i first got into this series. God how excited i was!!! great characters, great plot twists and turns but then... don't get me wrong, i don't mind a bit of 'dark erotica', but Hamilton reduces sex to a mere physical act, no real connection between the characters at all. Anita's hangups just drag this book down, its pretty much just her saying one thing and then changing her mind. Plus, no Jean-Claude in this one grrrr.... for those of you having trouble keeping count, Anita now has 12 men in her bed... guess you gotta congratulate her on stamina....

Anonymous said...

LKH has turned Anita Blake (a very promising heroin) into a whore. To put it in LKH's parlance: "coffin bait."

Mrs Savidge said...

Amen to your review. I summed up my opinion of this story as "campy". I'm very disappointed, and I own all of the Anita Blake books and read them avidly, until now. I couldn't even get past the 14th chapter.

Anonymous said...

Agree with all the above.

Thanks 'anonymous' (12 June) for the bed count ... only 12 ... I didn't realise it was so few LOL.

Thought they were fun to begin with. Like Graeme says, it is a little like car-crash TV etc., but for me it was the investment of time put into the first few books that I'd enjoyed that made me continue ... in the hopes they'd return to Anita's "The Laughing Corpse" Necromancy days or concentrate on her Vampire Executioner skills.

Haven't wasted my time and money the last few books (even after the offer of loans!). For paranormal action, give me Kim Harrison anyday ... now those are fun.

Anonymous said...

I know it has been said before, but thank you for that review it has saved me a lot of time and effort of even bothering to try and read through what amounts to porn. I think i'll give up now hoping for something better ;)