Hi! My name is Anna, "You'd really like me if you got to know me. I've known me for years and I love me."
Word count: about 95 000
Rating: “Winter was not waiting” 3,5*
Welcome to the world of egotistic, bloodthirsty, short-tempered, ruthless, amoral monsters that don't give a flying fuck about you!
Re-reading this book was both a good and a bad idea. Good, because it reminded me what I liked about this series. Bad, because it was ‘in your face - look how things were before it all went in a direction of rabid fornication'.
Without mystery in the plot (since I’ve read the book and knew were things were going) I took a fresh look upon the first instalment of equally loved and hated (quite often simultaneously) series about Anita Blake, The Executioner. And it’s less flattering than I’d like to admit.
Writing: I must admit that Hamilton is capable of constructing wonderful, graphic descriptions; especially when it comes to crime scenes or dark bars. Unfortunately even in the first book we get certain… I’d call them writer’s ticks (they'll suck the 'fun' right out of you - and you won't even know why). Even though not prominent, throughout the whole book they remain as annoying as youtube ads. We are treated to lengthy, totally unnecessary descriptions of clothing, hair, eyes, skin… Looks in general. This reminds me of clumsy attempts at creating funfiction (or Sookie Stackhouse series - yes, we do need to be told that she' wearing the same fucking Mary-janes 100 times).
Example: “White jogging socks, with tasteful blue stripes that matched the blue leather piping on my white Nikes, completed the outfit.” Do we really need to know that on top of EVERYTHING ELSE YOU’VE JUST DESCRIBED? Which was quite a lot. Three paragraphs about clothing! Why, oh why does the author insist upon doing it? Yes, do tell me what kind of pants this irrelevant guy is wearing. And while you’re at it certainly focus on his eye color, what it resembles, how it makes you feel… Yes. I MUST know it. Otherwise the book would be pointless, wouldn’t it?
Another tick: “Winter was not waiting” - Winter WASN’T waiting, damn it! I’m not a native speaker of English, maybe I’m crazy, but to me that sounds beyond awkward. What the actual fuck?! Please, by all means, feel free to use contractions.
The first time I’ve read those books (at least first few of them) I’ve read a Polish translation. I had no idea how lucky I was. Translator/s did a wonderful job of fixing certain annoying problems. Like repetitions, or weird grammar -this did wonders for books’ readability.
In short – writing is both good, climatic, with graphic descriptions that really pull you in and snappy dialogues and inner monologues & full of annoying ‘glitches’.
Characters: We get a nice, colourful, nicely proportioned cast. Not too many, not too few and just a right amount of detail. There’s a lot of showing. We asses characters based on their behaviour and words, which is much better than being told. It really enhances the experience.
Let’s start with Jean-Claude.:
- Self serving
- Really hot stuff
He tries to play Anita. He took some liking to her, but let’s be clear - she’s just an amusement, not a person - a new, shiny toy; a tool to be used. I love that about him. After all, he’s supposed to be one of the monsters!
Damn, he has some impressive self control. That’s both scary and exciting.
Despite all his undeniable faults he’s a man of his word (sort of), so he has some rules, some basic understanding of how this world functions and that hiding vampires' true nature is a compromise very much needed for their survival. For him power is necessary, but not to destroy. He’s reasonable, too much mindless violence and you’re in trouble.
By the way, (view spoiler) There is no instant love here. More than that, there is no love. Period. Anita knows monsters aren’t people and refuses to be misled or manipulated by their act. I like that about her.
He’s sexy, but there are no romantic feelings behind sensual play.
You’re never certain what his true colours are. We don’t know him at all. In the end of the book we’re still confused; don’t know how to feel about him. Is he good? Bad? Cruel? Trustworthy?
Dolph: - head of police force dealing with all things preternatural.
- Man of few words
Tall Gigantic and build like a wrestler
- Doesn’t want to influence people working for him before they say what they think about the case – legendary poker face
- Master of self control.
"Dolph had pissed somebody off, or he wouldn't have been here (*working for RPIT). But Dolph, being Dolph, was determined to do the best job he could. He was like a force of nature. He didn't yell, he was just there, and things got done because of it."
I really like RPIT (Regional Preternatural Investigation Taskforce). Here we only get a glimpse of what kind of people keep us all safe from our toothy ant furry friends. And I like what I see. Dedicated, professional man with a strong sense of right and wrong, drive to solve the case and great sense of humour that allows them to face the horrors and remain human; retain faith in right and wrong; believe in justice.
*Zerbrowski ^^ probably the best part of RPIT – got to love the man.
Yes, I do realize that this name can stir some negative emotions, but fear not! Here is your rehabilitation! Edward is
probably my favorite character in the whole Anitaverse. He’s Death incarnate – you’re looking for something to be scared off? Look no further. He’s not entirely sane – a sociopath; a man who loves killing, but not in a sadistic way, he just enjoys a good challenge. Which is why he gleefully hunts monsters; always on a search for a bigger and badder.
Pretty straightforward – sadistic vampires that pushed too hard until someone hit back. They do violence because… they can. And they like it. Simple as that. They have what I like to call a YOLO attitude; no thinking about consequences of their actions, no reason, no common sense – just overblown egos and joy of being the
coolest, wealthiest, best looking scariest, baddest, meanest thing in the room. The thought that puny humans could prove to be any kind of threat never really comes to them.
We also get one particular interesting bad guy, who simply, selfishly wants to live and doesn’t care about the costs.
Oh, finally. We get to talk about our protagonist. Well, I get to
talk write and you get to read, but by all means, ‘comment away’.
I have ambivalent feelings about Anita. She’s certainly not my favorite person in the whole wide world. Scratch that, I don’t really like her at all. Sometimes you just want to scream at her or bitch slap her.
Now, I love her little acts of defiance. Her taunts. Her sarcasm - even when she’s in a grave danger it's still there (both in her thoughts and words). Of course she is terrified! She’s fucking defenceless against most of those weird, unknown things! She bluffs, tries to act strong and cocky but I think it’s just her way of discharging fear. One thing is certain – it’s entertaining. Yes, she taunts vampires with sarcastic remarks/jokes – sometimes it’s almost like she has no desire to survive, but I see it as a positive thing. If she dies, it’ll be on her own terms. Besides, nobody respects a placid doormat.
“Jean-Claude’s face twisted. I wasn’t sure if he was trying not to laugh, or not to frown. Maybe both. I affected some people that way.” People just don’t know how to deal with her reactions. Good - this is Anita at her best.
At the same time she:
- Has no sense of humour – her sarcastic thoughts/remarks are funny, but she’s not fun to be around. No relaxed jokes, it’s all soooo serious…
- Easily gets whiny
- Feels responsible for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE
- It’s like she has a split personality – on one hand, she’s down for the necessary violence; a deadly executioner; on the other she’s extremely sensitive, example: she wishes vampires dealt with new wannabe gangsta vampires in the city in a less violent manner (chopping them to bits was too much for Anita). She doesn’t have the stomach for it. She’s almost naïve in her desire for less violent measures. Sometimes she’s polite, regardless of how she feels and what she wants, sometimes is very much ‘in your face’ (which I prefer). But ‘in your face’ is not the same thing as selfish bitch that suddenly makes people feel like shit.
She’s all talk but can’t deliver. She plans to do something, like go to a party, and when she’s there she’s willing to blow her cover and risk her and someone else’s life because she’s too squeamish to at least keep appearances. If you can’t do it, don’t. But going there and then acting all high and mighty… It’s just unsightly. Here, have some balls, my dog’s been recently castrated and I think you might need them. Adjusting to a situation is kind of crucial! And not just when the world is falling apart and people are actively wanting you dead RIGHT NOW. She's good at surviving, not much more.
Anita Blake is no fun – she doesn’t drink, dance, sing, flirt, has no hobbies or passions. No friends, really (I wonder why…) Her life is limited to work and life threatening situations. She’s judgemental (even admits it!), quite self righteous, and can be very annoying.
One of the nice parts of the book - cynical wisdom of Anita Blake, whether you agree with it or not, it’s still entertaining as hell:
“A gun out in plain sight attracts attention, but mostly people leave you alone. They often even start running, clearing a path before you. It made chases very convenient.”
“There’s nothing like waking up the morning after a good beating. It’s like a hangover that covers your entire body.”
“Violence has to become a part of your thinking. It makes you cautious, suspicious as hell, and lengthens your life expectancy.”
“Pity is an emotion that can get you killed. The only things more dangerous is blind hate, and maybe love.”
“You can’t slit anything’s throat without getting a little messy.”
“You can’t save everybody. In fact, there are days when I think you can’t save anyone. Each person has to save himself first, then you can move in and help. I have found this philosophy does not work during a gun battle, or a knife fight either. Outside of that it works just fine.”
In the end
I like that vampires age isn’t overblown. (Not every vampire is a few hundred years old – 200 is spoken off as very, very old and rare.)
I like monsters being monsters. How Jean-Claude is amused by Anita’s weakness. How he plays her. He’s no good guy.
I like how little they think of humans.
The book is quite funny at times – sarcasm is definitely my thing.
Awesome worldbuilding – let’s introduce monsters! Many types! Just to keep it varied.
I love the fact that vampires hold humans in disdain. I like how two faced they are. And above all they’re blood thirsty predators – human are only prey, fun pray, amusing pray, but pray nonetheless.