Jun. 25th, 2011

naomi_jay: (zombie girl)
 Luckily for me, I haven't just read Running in Fear: Escaped this week. I've also read some pretty good books too. Yay!



Afterlight is the first of the Dark Ink Chronicles, about Riley Poe, a tattoo artist in Savannah who finds herself embroiled in a world of vampires and dark magic when her younger brother falls into a mysterious cult. I wasn't sure at the start how much I was going to like this. Riley was a troubled teenager who's pulled herself together to make a success of herself, and wow, does she like to remind you on every page. I lost count of the number of times Riley repeated that she was a badass, that she'd done some bad things, that she'd had a dark, nasty childhood, that she's tough and hard and kickass... It got pretty dull. 

But then the main plot kicked in - Riley's brother Seth becoming a vampire and the involvement of the Dupre family who want to help Riley save Seth and take out some old enemies at the same time - Riley did actually back up her claims. We see her plunge back into the drug-heavy, sordid world she left behind, and we see her defend herself physically when need be. So although I still found the endless instance that, "look, guys, I am honestly so crazy wicked badass" pretty tedious, at least Jasper backed it up with some actual evidence. That aside, I did really like Riley as a heroine. She felt very relatable, and I admired her determination to keep fighting even though the odds were against her, and even though she knew that even if she got her brother back, both their lives would be irrevocably changed. I liked the Gullah angle - the inclusion of North African culture and myth added a fresh element to the standard vampire urban fantasy. The romance with Eli Dupre, a "good" vampire was fairly standard vampire urban fantasy, but Jasper is a good, vivid writer, and she kept the relationship interesting.

I adored the Savannah setting - Jasper really made the city come alive for me, and I felt like the city was as much of a character as Riley herself. I really want to visit there now. I'm in two minds about picking up the sequel - the reviews are terrible and it's hard to see where the series can go. There are some loose threads to be tied up - Riley's blood is irresistible to vampires but we never learn why, it just is. One of the evil vampires is still on the loose and obsessed with Riley, so obviously that needs to be resolved. But I find it hard to imagine an ongoing character arc for anyone in the book, as much as I enjoyed it. So, yes, I did like Afterlight but I'm not going to go running to buy Everdark.

 


Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator couldn't be more of a contrast to Afterlight. Set in the near future, in a world where zombies are a common, dangerous pest, Neeta is roped into a reality show to train new exterminators in order to pay off some legal bills. It's funny, very tongue-in-cheek, but also very clever and unusual. The reality show contestants appear to be proper cliches at first - the flamboyant campy one, the angry woman, the foreign guy... But throughout the book they reveal themselves to be much deeper and more nuanced than that. Neeta herself is great - competent, warm, strong, and brave, without ever needing to shove her abilities in the reader's face. She just gets on with her job, does it well, and does her best to train her newbies to succeed, despite the constant interference of the reality show producer.
 
The book's packed with pop culture references, which can be dating, but because it's set in the future, it worked quite well. The humour is nicely balanced with occasional flashes of real danger. Zombies are always good fun, and the reality TV format the book adopts is well-used to help develop the characters. At times it felt like there was a lack of a real, solid direction for the book, but overall that didn't stop me enjoying myself.
 

 
14 / 24 words. 58% done!

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