Date read: May 22 to 30, 2014
Halfway to the Grave: ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One Foot in the Grave: ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆
At Grave’s End: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The first book impressed me; the two after it, not at all.
To top it off, it’s the main character that made me
rage quit reading. That doesn’t usually happen because I don’t follow a series just for the likability of the MC. Whether or not I “like” or “root for” certain characters is usually an afterthought. So it’s a big deal when a book makes me quit the whole series due to character problems.
What to expect:
Heavy plotting, lots of action, lots of sex and innuendos (not witty unfortunately), lots of cardboard side characters, lots of blood, fetishistic descriptions of blood, and high body count. That’s just on the surface. Furthermore, there’s thin world building, minimal mythology, and unimpressive monster pathology. This last one got to me the most because I read urban fantasy for otherworldly anatomy and physiology, which this series does not deliver. I kept waiting for more revelations of otherworldly-ness, but they never came. So that’s another thing I’m fed up with. Generally speaking though, I’m willing to overlook most shortcomings if there’s a unique or new spin on vampirism, but there isn’t any of that here. If you’re familiar with Bram Stoker and Anne Rice, you’ll find nothing new in this series.
That seems odd to say because I did like the first book Halfway to the Grave and thought maybe I’d like the rest of the series about as much. The story is about a half-vampire, half-human anomaly (Catherine “Call me Cat” Crawfield) hunting vampires on her own by perusing local bars and tempting her marks to their deaths. She’s the product of a date rape and was brought up in a very conservative household in a very conservative small town with the knowledge of her mother’s attack hanging over her head. So obviously there’s a lot of residual guilt on her part over her own existence which motivated her to hunt vampires–to avenge her mother. On one of these hunts, she runs into a vampire bounty hunter (Bones) and they strike up a partnership, but not before he kidnaps her to persuade her to hunt alongside him. Together they make a pretty good team. She is the bait and he is the executioner. They develop a friendship that grows into a strong bond. The process is very organic, not like the usual PNR beginning.
But then books #2 and #3 happen, and I still have no idea why. Both are a lot on the ridiculously crazy side. It’s as though the author escalated the whole narrative just so she could skip fundamental character development and jump right into the thick of things, that being constant peril, making mortal enemies of millennia-old vampires, and, of course, marriage. There’s nothing organic about any of these development; they happened too fast in rapid succession due to strenuous plot escalation. That’s why I’m baffled by the turn of events and sudden change in tone and atmosphere.
And another thing. There’s a 4-year time jump between books #1 and #2 which screwed everything up even more. It’s stated that 4 years have passed, but the main characters don’t seem like they’ve changed or grown from their experiences at all, especially not Cat. If anything, she got more obnoxious, brash, and unnecessarily mouthy. In other words, TSTL. She behaves like a whiny petulant child who’s bent on not listening to advice but instead choosing to put her life in danger to “save the day.” This would seem more of a big deal if it didn’t happen in every other chapter. It’s baffling how she can still hunt vampires while being such a menace on society herself.
After finishing the first book, I really thought I’d found something interesting and that this series might be a UF I can fall back on, but it’s just not meant to be. This writing has gotten too PNR for me, too high on romance and too low on the paranormal. The more I read on, the more I hated Cat and Bones and everything they did. By the end of the third book, I barely remembered why I even liked the first book.
But still the first book was a decent read. It reminded me a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer during Buffy’s the high school years. Cat is a lonelier, more withdrawn, more estranged from society version of Buffy, like Buffy during her early days in Sunnydale. And Bones is basically Spike, right down to the accent and hair. Nothing original here, but when it’s just the two of them, the writing is okay. So maybe it’s nostalgia that made me rank this book higher than the others (because tbh they all deserve 1 star ratings).