Sunday, June 6, 2010

Book Review: Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton

• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (June 1, 2010)
• Language: English
• ISBN-13: 978-0425234334
• Genre: Paranormal Thriller/Horror

Muse Reviews Rating: 3.5 Laurels

Publisher Description: Anita Blake is back in St. Louis and trying to live a normal life-as normal as possible for someone who is a legal vampire executioner and a U. S. Marshal. There are lovers, friends and their children, school programs to attend. In the midst of all the ordinary happiness a vampire from Anita's past reaches out. She was supposed to be dead, killed in an explosion, but the Mother of All Darkness is the first vampire, their dark creator. It's hard to kill a god. This dark goddess has reached out to her here-in St. Louis, home of everyone Anita loves most. The Mother of All Darkness has decided she has to act now or never, to control Anita, and all the vampires in America.

Bullet is not a plot-driven book; it’s a character-driven book. In some ways, Bullet has more in common with literary fiction than genre fiction. Laurell K. Hamilton’s books have become less about what the characters are doing than who they are becoming. In Bullet, readers will not find the larger-than-life conflicts and flashy climaxes of early Anita Blake novels. If you like fast-paced action, you’re going to be dissatisfied when the majority of a book focuses on the internal workings of the characters’ minds.

Inside Anita’s mind is exactly where the majority of Bullet takes place. This is a fine thing, but readers who long for the days when Anita rushed from one life-or-death emergency to the next will be frustrated. If you like heavy doses of carnal lust (or at least don’t mind them), then you’ll be rewarded with some interesting character development happening in the midst of, because of, or in spite of the sex. Take your pick.

That being said, sex, while abundant and one of the driving forces of Bullet, is not the focus. Bullet is almost exclusively focused on Anita’s private struggles. The conflict is about Anita working her internal issues and the external forces feel like little more than scaffolding raised to hold together the architecture of a novel.

Major plot points were glossed over in favor of a quick and tidy ending. Throughout the whole book, I kept waiting for Anita to tap into her magical abilities and throw down, metaphysically speaking, with the antagonistic characters in her life. Anita has worked her relationship issues and sexual hang-ups enough. I’m ready to see her genuinely embrace her necromancy. I have yet to see her treat it as anything more than a job, at best, and a temporary bandage for metaphysical boo-boo at worst.

As powerful a necromancer as Anita is supposed to be, it seems like she should have a lot more to say about whether vampires like Belle Morte or Marmee Noire can take over her mind and body. Where is the Anita who raised small army of vampires as zombies during daylight hours? When do we get to see Anita say enough and use her power – hers, not power borrowed from the men around her – to fight back? As much as I like the character development in Bullet, I miss watching Anita kick ass and take names.

On the plus side, fans will be happy to see Richard finally get a grip, pull his head out of his bum, and start holding up his end of the triumvirate. The turn-around is a relief, but I’m not sure I’m ready to trust it. Richard is notorious for taking a baby step forward only to let his emotional baggage come crashing down on everyone’s head. I hope Bullet is a set-up for a new story arc that will demonstrate how powerful Anita’s triumvirate with Jean-Claude and Richard can be. It certainly felt like a lead-in to something bigger. I eagerly await the next installment in the series.

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  1. How could you neglect to mention the eagerly awaited lesbian sex?!

    All I have to say is, it's about freaking time. ;)

  2. *grin*

    Hey, I'm trying not to give spoilers here. But you're right, witnessing the hopelessly hetero LKH try to write girl-on-girl erotica ranks up there on my list of LOL-worthy events. She did a reasonably good job of it too, so I'm satisfied.