Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Serial Killers

I'd call that a really great cover for one of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, series.
Am not sure just where in that series this title fits, but am prepared to read more of her backlist and forthlist , because the character, her peculiar occupation, and the societal difficulties intrigue me.
And how the author blends or alters elements of cuturally accepted myths and established tropes.
Yesterday, finished Hamilton's A Kiss of Shadows, the adventures of Meredith Gentry, a refugee from the deadly politics of the Faerie Court, who works as a P.I. investigating supernatural crime.
Problem is, we get little of the investigative set-up and too much of the corrupt politics and shifting alliances of the decadent Court.
A little more case load to establish her smarts would have been appreciated.
And Meredith is a more passive and reactive person than Anita when all is said and done, relying on inherited, rather than developed, power and magic.
In yesterday's comments, the claim was made her stories lapse into porn, which I assume means a reiteration of one sexual encounter after another, with no emotional investment for either the reader or the character involved.
Hadn't noticed that so far.
As consistent as such activities might be for a Faerie character descended from a number of fertility goddesses, the lack of emotional stakes makes for boring.
But then I tend to find Faeries and the emphasis on sex-magic generally boring.
My bad.
Granted, there are a lot of neat and very clever imaginative touches, interpretations and adaptions of fairy tale elements in the series; but think that, on the whole, by Hamilton's devotion to internal logic and consistency of character, she lost something vital.
Meredith is too distant.
I don't particularly care if she takes her rightful place in the Court and becomes Queen, or survives her cousin's ambitions and evil machinations.
One of the criticisms of some series is the loss of plot. Series have also been criticised for an opposite failure - mechanical repetition of one damned dilemma after another.
What, in your mind, in the worst serial killer?


December Quinn said...

In Anita Blake's case, Mary Sue became the worst serial killer.

Of all the AB books, I think I liked "Bloody Bones" and "The Killing Dance" the best. Yes, because there's finally sex in The Killing Dance and I like sex in books (duh). I just hate page after page of pointless, unemotional sex.

If you insist on reading the Blake books, Bernita, go back to the beginning (Guilty Pleasures) and go on from there. The first eight or so really were good.

Gabriele C. said...

Books getting lost in unimportant details (fe. Gabaldon after vol. 4), repetition of backstory (yes, Mrs. Auel, I know Ayla had problems in the Clan for using a sling), Fanstasy sequels with Even Greater Evils, minus point if the characters suddenly have greater magic to defy the Even Greater Evil (Eddings does it to some extent, and Raymond Feist lost me with his unmotivated interstellar dragon flights), serial detectives that don't develop.

A lot of series would do better if the editors had the courage to tell an author to nick 300 of her 800 pages. Even if her name is Rowling. *grin*

Carla said...

Of the series I've given up on, the main reasons were (a) same plot/theme/events/dilemma/wording repeated, so I feel I've already read this and I know what's going to happen; (b) increasing proportion of verbose writing, unnecessary detail or irrelevant scenes; (c) books that neither stand alone nor appear to get nearer to resolving the overall plot of the series - what you might call Part 28 of the Unending Saga Syndrome.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, the last is why I've never given up on Jordan.

I didn't start to read his books. :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, December.
Think those are the ones I have my name down for.

Yes, Gabriele, after while the characters just look stupid and the plots too diffuse.
Jordan should have wrapped it up about volume Six.
After while, the writer gets so entranced with his world and not the plot, a reader is lost and no longer cares.

The Never Ending Saga and No End In Sight is a killer, Carla.

Rashenbo said...

I don't think I've read any Anita Blake and now I might have to go pick one up. My hubby gave me a nice gift certificate to the bookstore :D If you aren't connected to the character - as you mentioned with Meredith... then why bother reading?

Robyn said...

For the love of God, I beg you to reconsider reading Narcissus in Chains (and any of the later books) in the Anita Blake series. That started the death of actual plot and characterization; instead we got the undead/werecreature gangbang and the glorification of Anita's magical healing hoo-hah. Blech. Honest, Bernita, every man/thing that shows up on the scene wants a ride. And gets one.

I got so disgusted with the turn in the AB series that I never read the Meredith Gentry books. I might check out the earlier ones; I understand they went the same way.

raine said...

Haven't read Hamilton, but have heard so many conflicting opinions about her work it sounds intriguing, lol.
I haven't read a lot, but the worse serial killers I've come across have been
1) Repetition of basic plotlines.
2) The introduction of elements OBVIOUSLY designed to increase sales (such as more sex, more sex, more sex), and
3) No growth in the character, or the character begins to act TOTALLY out of character as represented by the first books in the series.

Good question, Bernita.

Bernita said...

Because, Rashenbo, there may be other things of interest in a book, besides identifying with the character.

Have the feeling there's an exorcism circle being cast around me!
It's the first 6 or 8 I want to read, Robyn.
Found the Meredith books more interesting for the variants of myth than the character - who is barely above a cliche.

Try a few and see what you think, Raine.
Seems Hamilton informally switched genres from dark fantasy to erotica within the series, without notification.

writtenwyrdd said...

LKH's first 8 books were great in the AB series. I've been a fan since the first one came out. Up through Obsidian Butterfly, they still have plot and mystery. I actually like that one best because Edward's in it the entire time.

What really bugs me is LKH dangled this government conspiracy thread and has yet to snag it in any of the subsequent books.

December had it right in saying Mary Sue has slayed the series.

Anonymous said...

For me the worst serial killers are the ones that hasn't been caught. As for characters in books, I'm not sure.

writtenwyrdd said...

To actually answer your question and not rant anti-LKH, I'd have to say what kills a book series for me is staleness. Over a long series, what else is there to say about a character? When a kid, I read the entire Tarzan series, and did that become a chore! Because, after about a dozen of them, they were so obviously rehashed even my twelve-year-old self could tell.

In the Anita Blake series, it has shifted dramatically from the paranormal mystery series, basically changing the sub-genre she was writing to a paranormal romance (or erotica). That seems to have killed the series for many.

Perhaps it is just a failure to meet enough readers' expectations and the resultant loss of sales.

spyscribbler said...

Yummy! I think her lapses into 'porn' are some of the most enjoyable parts!

But then ... you know me. :-)

Bernita said...

What kills a series for you, Steve? Or do you not read any?

That's so true about the Tarzan books, as you say, Written.
Changing the genre without changing characters sounds like looked like a clever marketing decision on paper.
But in practise, not so smart.

I didn't think it was particularly well-written as porn, Spy.
Serial sex isn't all that fresh or original, no matter how neat their outfits or how nifty their hair.

Anonymous said...

I used to love to read her, but stopped. December is right. Mary Sue killed the writing.

If you start at the beginning of each, you'll see the shift in her storytelling. It's very obvious.

Anonymous said...

I guess I would have to say excessive violence. I'm not opposed to violence in a story, but blood letting can go too far. One that comes to mind is the latest book by Konrath, Rusty Nail. It was a good read, but a little over the top.

Bernita said...

That's interesting, Janie and December.
If I understand the Mary Sue thing right in this case, you mean rampant egotistic wish fulfillment.
A blatant identification.
Odd that someone with such a rich imagination would let herself go that way.

Too much gore for gore's sake, Steve?
Can get boring, just like porn.
Also, one tends to feel the author is trying too hard by pushing the stakes.
I don't care to see the author's desperate hand.

Some writers think they are being "brave" by pushing the envelope and blame the reader when it turns readers off.
What may turn the reader off may simply be the unnecessary excess of it, not the subject.

Candice Gilmer said...

For me, it's lack of character developement...

I've read a number of series and the characters just stop growing...

That bugs the snot out of me.:)

Coruse, I've not read any of the books you all have mentioned... So I can't comment on that.

sink sink socks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernita said...

As long as "development" of character means revealing or learning, Candice, I'm with you.
I haven't read enough of these two characters, Anita and Meredith to know whether she fails in that or not.