Friday, April 17, 2009

Animal Names and Bloody Appendages and Doomsday...oh my!

As a continuation to the previous post, I picked up Jessica Andersen's Nightkeepers, since it came so highly recommended by J.R. Ward, a friend of Andersen's. I didn't think to put too much weight on the rave review because 1) they're friends and support each other's writing and therefore 2) they would naturally recommend each other's work. But I still tried it because I love Ward and was hoping for something on the same level as her work and how the Brotherhood sucks me in.

I did not get that. In fact, I couldn't finish Nightkeepers.

To be honest, I would have never bought this book had I just come across it at the bookstore. I might have picked it up because of it's alluring cover, but I would never have purchased. The back cover copy isn't written to entice me and had I gone and actually flipped through the pages, I would have been discouraged.

First off, the world was disconcerting to me. I couldn't get my bearings in the environment created by the book. On one hand, it's about Mayan prophecy but the term that's constantly used to speak about how the characters tap into their magic is "jack in." To me, that term is very Matrix-y in its electronical jargon and that makes a very weird juxtaposition with what I naturally connect with Mayan culture which is something that happened in history many many years ago. So, that awkward mix of the old and new just rubbed me the wrong way.

Another thing, there's a secondary character named Rabbit?! What? And he's an angsty teen who wears black, has plugs in his ears, and is constantly connected to his iPod? The names...sigh, a hero who is Striking Jaguar, which isn't all that bad, but I learned to hate it because I just couldn't get over "Rabbit."

This book is very obviously setting up to the rest of the series. Instead of concentrating on the main hero/heroine pair, there's a large section of the book where we meet the other Nightkeepers and we don't even read about the main pair. This just turned me off. When I read a Romance, I expect to be with one or both of the main characters at least 98%-99% of the time, giving a little leeway for some secondary characters. But when a significant chunk of the book is gone to characters of upcoming can you expect your reader to engage with the characters?

There is quite a bit of jargon here and I don't think it was done in a way where the reader is just seamlessly inserted into that culture and they don't feel out of sorts. Unfortunately, I was very confused, and the language wasn't an enhancement, but all techy jargon to me. When including non-English words or words that are made up by the author to spice up the book, the author needs to be careful it doesn't detract from the book, but adds to it. But alas, this was one of the biggest things I didn't like about this book. Too much.

Lastly, what is with all the knife welding and cutting of flesh and blood contact? Yuck. It just made me cringe and not in the "I'm grimacing because something bad has just happened to the hero and/or heroine and it's written so well I feel like it's actually happening." It just made me cringe because it was gross. I mean, the hero slicing a cut on his tongue, forcing the heroine to open her mouth so he can do the same, and then mingling their blood in a bruising kiss is not sexy; it makes me think of disease, not sex. The whole bloodletting element just made me want to shrink away from the book.

Ironically, I've never really had this feeling even though I love vampire books and have read some (that I didn't like) where the blood was a big element. I don't know what it was but Andersen just didn't write it this element in an appealing way. Which sounds weird, but when dealing with paranormal and blood is involved, if the author doesn't do it right it smacks of obscene, not sexual or appealing.

To be fair, I think this series has a very interesting basic idea. Nightkeepers and magic and Mayan history seems enough rich fodder to plot an entire series. However, it was the writing and the way it was written that turned me off. Sad to say that I had high hopes for it, and if it wasn't for the source of the recommendation, I would have never even tried it nor stuck with it for as long as I did, even though I didn't finish it.

One small note: it is a very nice cover.

0.5 out of 5: I would have given it a zero because I couldn't even finish it, but I gave it half a point because it's a good idea for plot in theory, but unfortunately in reality, it was awful.


Lindsay said...

If you like JR Ward, try Lara Adrian or Deborah Cooke. Both have relatively new series out, but you have to start from teh beginning.

Lindsay said...

Another one, Larissa Ione. She has a triology out that I'm really hoping she continues. Of course it's more demons than vampires, but still pretty good.