Review: Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1)

Once upon a time, a woman heard about this amazing book series. It had vampires and were-creatures and zombies and a kick-ass heroine. It sounded like just her sort of thing.

“It’s good,” everyone said. “Well, until book nine, but before that, it’s good.”

The woman didn’t know whether she wanted to commit to another series, especially one that seemed like it would eventually collect dust on her shelf, half read, but one day, Kobo had the first book on sale, so she thought “What the Hel?” and bought it.

And now that she’s read it, she’s convinced that everyone who ever recommended this book is crazy, because this book is not good, it’s not even close to good.

This book is fucking awful.

So, basically we have our main character, Anita Blake, a necromancer person who raises people from the dead (known as an Animator) who ends up being coerced into finding out who’s chopping up the local vampire population in St. Louis. Oh, and Anita hates vampires.

Seriously, she hates vampires.

Did I mention she hates vampires?

She does.

Now, before I really tear into this book, I should say that there are some interesting things happening in Anita’s world. The vampires have their own church (popular with atheists and agnostics, apparently), there are wererats…er…ratmen, which is a nice change from the constant focus on werewolves (note that this book was published in the early 90s). There are some intriguing ideas here.

Unfortunately, all of these great ideas mean nothing if the writing doesn’t hold up, and the writing in this book is abysmal. I’ll just let the book speak for itself. This is from a scene in chapter 36:

He glided to me, just like I wanted him to. He put a hand on my shoulder. I screamed in his face as loud as I could. He hesitated for just a heartbeat. I shoved the knife blade between his ribs. It was sharp and thin, and I shoved it in hilt deep. His body stiffened, leaning into me. Eyes wide and surprised. His mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out. He toppled to the floor, fingers grabbing at air.

You know what one of the first things my creative writing teacher told me about writing? Don’t use the same word at the beginning of every sentence in a paragraph, it makes the writing look stiff and uninteresting. Actually, I probably learned that in grade one or so. Seriously, this is like Writing 101.

The dialogue isn’t much better:

“Answer me, A-n-i-t-a,” She stretched my name out, biting off each syllable.

This line just doesn’t make any sense. Last I checked, “Anita” has three syllables, and that doesn’t even look like she’s stretching the name, it looks like she’s spelling it out. “Aa-ni-taaa” makes a bit more sense, or, if she’s really biting off each syllable “A-ni-ta!” looks a bit more like a staccato beat. I’m sure you can think of something better.

Oh, and you know how the big mystery is essentially solved? The baddie walks up to Anita and he’s just like “I killed all those vampires, lol” and she’s all like “I just figured that out two seconds ago,” I’m serious. In the afterword to the book, Hamilton seems to think it’s some Big Mystery, when what it basically amounts to is Anita wandering around until the solution hits her in the face. It’s basically the JRPG school of mystery-solving.

As if the writing wasn’t bad enough, Anita herself just isn’t likeable. She’s rude and condescending to everyone (including her friends). Her hatred of vampires is reasonable (considering that the vast majority of the vampires in this book aren’t very nice, to put it mildly), her pissy attitude towards everyone else is just annoying.

Also, why is every man in this book built like a bodybuilder? Seriously, most of the men in this book are so chiseled they are practically walking statues.

I should also mention that this book has an orgy party scene that is strongly reminiscent of the one in one of the Sookie Stackhouse books, which is as equally awful as the one and that book. Seriously, if you’re going to include a party scene in a book written for adults in which there are racy things going on, there are ways to portray it that don’t make it look as if you, the author, are a total prude (or, at best, someone with no experience of such things, for which I don’t blame you, but really).

So yeah, terrible book. I’m not touching the others. No, not even to read about all the bad sex for myself.

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One thought on “Review: Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1)

  1. I *PROMISE* you, Missus — skip to: “The Laughing Corpse,” — excellent and all about necromancy…”The Killing Dance” — all about weres…”Cereleun Sins,” all about the vampire council and the start of their coup to usurp the current ruler who’s been asleep for 2,000 (Marmee Noir, the first vampire and sociopath to walk the world) — the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention & still do everytime I read it! Skip on ahead to Narcissus in Chains & The Harlequin…panweres, bdsm loving weres and old aztec vampire god powers…then skip on to Skin Trade…where Marmee Noir finally wakes, as does her ‘thought to be dead’ mate. I hate it when peeps tell me to read something I think is shit, but I PROMISE YOU–the writing gets better as does the likeability of Anita, a self-hating ex Catholic who’s crisis with her inner good & evil is the real reason she appears to hate the supernaturals — even when she is one herself!

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