Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton

Title: Kiss The Dead
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake #21
Pages: 259
Publisher: Berkley
Date Published: June 5th, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Library

When a fifteen-year-old girl is abducted by vampires, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Anita Blake to find her. And when she does, she’s faced with something she’s never seen before: a terrifyingly ordinary group of people—kids, grandparents, soccer moms—all recently turned and willing to die to avoid serving a master. And where there’s one martyr, there will be more…

My Review:*sigh* I honestly don't know if I can continue reviewing Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series any longer. This is a series that I have grown up with and the characters have come to mean so much to me that I think I'm starting to make excuses for the bad, repetitive writing in order to rate the books higher because of how much I want the characters to "do well" How ridiculous does that sound? I know, I know...they are fictionalized people who have no bearing on real life or how I should rate the book. But still...I love them so! Yet it is getting ever increasingly difficult to actually like reading about them. Why? Perhaps because this is number TWENTY ONE in a series that has spanned over 3 decades and began before paranormal was even a genre of book. Perhaps it's because that the revelations about character depth, psychology, and police work that seemed so brilliant the first time that Laurell wrote about them now seem boring and irritating because we have seen them in EVERY. SINGLE. BOOK since they first appeared. When it gets to the point that I can close my eyes, think of what will probably be the next sentence, and be right about it 95% of the time, the author should probably get some new material.

We manage to get more than halfway through the book without any sex scenes! *does cartwheel!* I think that's a first for this series since book 8...13 books ago! Also, with the lack of sex mucking up the place, we get to see Anita actually doing police work for the first time in quite a while! Of course because Anita can't go anywhere without making life altering decisions that mean the end of friendships, she makes her former apprentice Lawrence Kirkland turn against her by cutting up dead bodies in front of suspects to terrify them into confessing (funny...the last time we got to see Larry, he was Anita's advocate against the people who thought she was a monster...but I guess she needed one more friend to turn against her and up the angst level because too many people are starting to accept her, monsters and all...) Still, I was happy to see much more police work, gun shooting, and crime solving. Zerbowski and Dolph are always fun for me to see in action, and I thought that the plot had potential. Granted, past the halfway mark every other chapter is a sex scene, typically with characters that I only vaguely remember...but we at least got more plot and storyline in the first half of the book than the last 4 books combined!

Okay...this book more than any other that I've read, and any other book in this series even, delves into the idea of polyamory. Not just orgies like the last few books mostly have, but the actual concept of having the true, deep, lasting feelings of love for more than one person. I am honestly interested in that kind of concept as I see it as another type of sexual orientation and like to see cases explored in real life as well as novels. There was one chapter where Micah, Nathaniel and Anita are absolutely so freaking cute that I just squealed with adoration and hope that they could be a happy little threesome forever.

Laurell really needs to come up with something better to describe than how much she likes oral sex, the look in a man's eyes when he "knows" that he gets to sleep with a woman, the dead look in Anita's eyes that she uses to frighten bad vampires, and most of all how many of Anita's friends, lovers, and coworkers turn against her because she does the "monstrous" things that they aren't. If I could tally how many times those exact descriptions came up in this book it would be in the hundreds. The worst part of Laurell's repetition was that it's not like she just repeats herself in each succeeding book of the series. She usually says the same thing more than once in any given book. Sometimes the same descriptions would occur multiple times on one page, and it would frequently happen within one chapter.For example, if you actually have a copy of Kiss the Dead, look carefully at the end paragraphs of chapters 7 and 18 . Literally, Laurell says the same few paragraphs about weight-lifting and preternatural football scouts in ALMOST THE EXACT SAME SENTENCES. Whether it was an author mistake or an editor just didn't take the time to...I don't know...edit the book, it was sloppy...just plain sloppy to include stuff like that.

Also, to elaborate further on the "everyone thinks Anita's a monster" point from the above paragraph. I'm sick of it. Why is that even a point anymore? Why does someone new in each book have issues with Anita's job, and then actually says something to her about it? I don't know about you, but even my close friends have a hard time telling me when they don't like something I do let alone someone I never met before . Why would perfect strangers tell someone that they are a monster? Answer: They wouldn't. They would just go about their job and not try to step on the toes of someone who is above them in rank and popularity. Yet it's a recurring theme, starting with out of town detectives, then bouncing to Richard, then to Dolph, now to Larry Kirkland and Detective Jessica Arnet. Everyone seems to have a problem with Anita and her horrible monstrous ways, only to get over it by the next book. I'm done. I don't care that all these people think you're mean Anita...suck it up because you have COUNTLESS officers who like you enough to have your back them in a gunfight, AND you have more than 15 (that's right I said FIFTEEN) men you sleep with on a regular basis. Just. get. over. yourself. already.

Speaking of the fifteen lover-boys, as with the past few books in this series the dance card is a little full when it comes to characters. Honestly, you really need to carry around some kind of map of characters with their powers, strengths, weaknesses, and how they met Anita in the first place just to keep everyone straight. No wait, I lied, because every single time Anita sees one of her men for the first time in any given scene she spends, at minimum, three paragraphs describing them, talking about their clothes, and then referencing any past angsty issues that occurred or occasionally some kinky sexual preferences.  So you might be able to figure out who they are, but you will be left drooling with the massive amount of descriptive blather that might in fact put you into a stupor. To add to all of the confusion, Anita's lovers are all now sleeping with multiple people because we couldn't just have ONE polyamorous it seems like there are a few happy threesomes going on, EVERYONE needs to have three or four main squeezes to be happy. And heaven forbid anyone wants to have a monogamous relationship. If they do they are immediately blackballed as being selfish for not sharing the person they love...what.the.eff? Good luck keeping the lovers straight. I can't and I've been reading and re-reading the series since 2000. At least Laurell managed to trim off some of the fat in the end by killing a few were-lions (though we actually don't SEE that...just get a casual two sentence description about how they've been killed for the good of the pride...) and sending Asher off into the wild unknowns of some other city. Good riddance I say. I'm sick of his angst and jealousy.
I give Kiss the Dead and 2 out of 5 Keys. I danced with the idea of going lower, but for those of you out there who are true Anita Blake fans, you may like this one. It actually attempts to deal with plot and crime which we haven't seen in ages, and still provides the maximum amount of character development for those who like Asher, Nathaniel, Nicky, and now Cynric aka Sin. Of course if the repetitive dialogue, irritating descriptions, and chapters upon chapters of sex irritate you, you should probably sit this one out. Let's hope that Laurell K. Hamilton stops running this poor series into the ground and just wraps it up before she loses the fans she still has.


  1. Andra, I felt exactly the same! By this point I am sick of Anita and same old same old, I was much harsher in my rating because after moderately refreshing Skin Trade I was hoping LKH will bring a better more interesting Anita back. It wasn't destined to be and I'm finished with this series. There is just nothing new here *sigh* Like you I'm an old fan, but even I can't deal with this copy and paste job anymore.

    1. I honestly thought about giving it 1 or even No keys....Does it even deserve any keys if it's just copied and pasted from past books? I don't know...I mean there were moments I enjoyed...but seriously...Laurell needs a new editor or something to cut out like half the scenes...blah

    2. You're right. I had that same moment with Skin Trade. Sigh, I could go a whole book of zombies. I do miss those necromancer days. The repetition was incredible, wasn't it? Seems barely believable. Anyhoo, and yet... Here I am buying another one. My own fault.
      Great review.

  2. I feel the same way with these books. And I noticed the almost identical paragraphs as well.. that was crazy! There are about 10 good books in the series and that's it. LKH needs to just wrap it all up and end it already because she's killing this series.

    1. SO true. It makes me so sad because these characters had some AMAZING books nearer to the beginning (and popping up here and there through books 11-15) but now they just circle around the same exact ideas over and OVER again. Some epic ending just has to be created to put everyone to rest for once and for all.

  3. I think I gave up on this series after Obsidian Butterfly, but I still love reading the reviews on the new books. It always amazes me how much the characters have changed.

  4. Bummer. Sounds like the series might be a little longer than needed. Sorry to hear.

  5. It's too bad this series sounds like it's petering out. I have a bunch of these on my bookshelf but haven't started reading them yet. I guess I have a ways to go before I get tired of them!