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Blood Work: An Original Hollows Graphic Novel
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2011
I will start this review by saying that I love Kim Harrison's series The Hollows. They were the first true Urban Fantasy series I collected, and it has been my recommendation to many a person wanting to try out this genre.

However, and as much of a Fangirl I am to this author and her work (and the main character of the Graphic Novel, Ivy Tamwood), I have to outright admit there are some really serious issues with this Graphic Novel adaptation of the world of the Hollows. The author at least was gracious enough to not just wanting to transcribe her already written work into comic book form (Anita Blake and Harry Dresden, I'm looking at you!), something that seldom works right. Instead, she gifted us with a trip into the mind of Ivy (rather than the books' narrator, Rachel) and tells us just how the main duo of the series came to work together and know each other.

Storywise, this might have worked rather well for a novel, or a noveletta -- but in comic form, the most interesting aspects of the tale were subdued or understated. Ivy's feelings (read love) for Rachel happened incredibly abruptly, and even though Rachel here wasn't as incredibly annoying as Mercy Thompson in the "Homecoming" graphic novel (awful awful AWFUL!), she came across as random, whimsical, and annoyingly moralist. And somehow, Ivy seems to be amazingly grateful to have Rachel's abuse. I love the two characters and I adore Rachel, but I really didn't like her in this GN - in the books she's sassy, self assured and a little bit cheeky. Here? She's got mood swings that take her from cutesy to "RANTING BITCH IN YOUR FACE!".

Again, this tiny history behind the GN would be much more interesting if more properly developed but it just didn't work -- there was no emotional development, and the secondary plot (the murdered werewolf) seems crammed in to give the girls something to do that wasn't Ivy moping over Rachel and her relationship to Piscary. The secondary characters felt awkward -- crowbared even -- almost forced to be there, as if they had been contractually obligated to make an appearance to please the fans.

I can't really understand the goal of this Graphic Novel:

- If it was to give the fans a little treat, to show them a vignette of how their main duo came together, it fails because it lacks most of the elements that make the Hollows Series so much fun -- and the author's talented writing. Everything given here is a weak rehash of what we already knew from reading the books.
- If it was to actually complete a missing gap in The Hollows lore, and the author meant it as something actually useful, it, again fails, because she chose the wrong medium: she's clearly out of her depth, and the story itself would either need to be told in a bigger book, or by a more competent storyteller in this means, because -- really? I didn't learn anything interesting about the two that I didn't know already.
- If it was to draw in new people, give them a taste of the books and maybe get them to buy the series, it also fails, because there is very little information about the setting (the little there is is crammed into a few squares) -- and when you waste 3 whole pages just to describe Cincinnati, and then carry on the rest of the book as assuming that the reader already knows the setting fully well, then you really can't expect the new readers to be engaged, because they will have no reason to care about the characters. And with the story itself not being particularly good or memorable -- it becomes even harder to recommend this as a "stepping stone" for someone to get interested in the series.

One thing is painfully obvious -- Ms. Harrison is a delicious writer, but she can't write comics to save her life. As I said above, the first three pages are dedicated to Cincinnati alone -- something that would work fine in a novel, but not in a comic book. Then, suddenly, the GN rushes forward, and I kept getting the feeling I was running behind it, filling in bits here and there with my own knowledge of the Books. There is no pacing, no interest, no use of the medium itself to convey the story -- it seems as if Kim Harrison just wrote a story, and then told someone to write pictures for it. Unfortunately, with comics seen often as a "lesser medium", a lot of people believe that if you can write novels, you can write comics. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth and it takes a special training (and talent) to be able to pull off a good Graphic Novel.

Blood Works doesn't work neither as a comic or a novel, thus failing in both precepts of being a "Graphic Novel."

Now, the art.

Many people complained that the art was ghastly, subpar, didn't make the original characters any justice. I think it just shows that the artist is not very experienced -- and I can understand that for all her popularity, Ms. Harrison couldn't really afford to hire one of the real good and great comic book artists in the market (Ivy drawn by Adam Hughes.... le sigh!). I didn't like the art, but if the story had been good, I wouldn't have minded it. Curiously, one of the things that annoyed me most about the art wound up being the author's fault -- Ivy's excessive Asian looks irritated the hell out of me, because it went against the "hint of Asian" that claimed that Ivy had in the books. It was far too much -- and I blamed the artist, all the way through the GN, until I reached the "extras" section, where Kim Harrison shows her notes asking for the artist to redo Ivy, because she show the "hint of Asian" -- and listing Lucy Liu as a good reference.

Now, Lucy Liu is a beautiful woman. But she is VERY CLEARLY Asian. And Ivy is not supposed to be (at least judging from the books), and instead, she should just have an exotic look, topped off with a hint of Asian. It's small wonder quite a few complained about this unexpected feature of Ivy in the GN. Part of me wonders if it wasn't just to make Rachel look better by comparison, because she was quite prettily drawn.

I didn't really like the hairdo in Ivy (Ivy is highly sophisticated, and that ponytail didn't work well), but those are minor grievances.

Unfortunately, I'm forced to give this book a very low mark: the story is forgettable and unoriginal, the art is passable at best and mediocre at worst, and it seems, in the end, just a waste of paper and space for either fans or nenwcommers. This comes across more as a work of vanity (to have one's urban fantasy books turned into comics seems a recent trend as of late), and not to really achieve anything truly meaningful.
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67 of 89 people found the following review helpful
The best part of the reading, for those who've been with the series from the start, is of course just reacquainting yourself with the various cast. The main characters could just be visiting the local grocery and it would be fun to read along as they banter and just do slice of life stuff. Characterization is the mainstay of the series, and just keeping touch with Jenks and his family is enough for a comfortable, enjoyable (in some cases bittersweet) read.

That said, while I love the characters of Kim's books, the latest installment of the Hollows series seems to just tread water rather than advance any of the characterizations or plot lines. Yes we find out who killed Kist. Unfortunately it's a stupidly senseless death that seems just to have happened so Rachel could have an excuse to be angsty. This new book lacks a rather critical sense of, for want of better term, soul. With little rhyme or reason, Rachel is not at her best as she mopes through a majority of the book when she isn't agonizing over how long she should respect her dead boyfriend's memory before giving into her desire to knock metaphysical boots with a goodlooking guy witch whose best feature appears to be his convenient accessibility.

Rachel has always had a bit of a bewildering auto "wolf whistle, pant, pant, pant" thought mode when she encounters any and every good looking male who isn't running away from her bad reputation and isn't trying to kill her... Okay scratch that, she "notices" them in that way even if they are trying to kill her. Not that she follows up on it, always, but it grows old after the umpteenth time she notice how hawt this or that guy's tight butt happens to be. It feels artificial when it's driven home several times a book, book after book, just how hot to trot Rachel is for any good looking guy that crosses her line of vision.

Meanwhile the intriguing almost romance between Rachel and Ivy that held such promise in the first few books, now tiredly retreads the same old same old for a seventh book as Ivy grows painful to watch with her soulful torch bearing for Rachel, who alternately eggs on and then slaps down the vampire who perpetually teeters on the edge of self control. Much as I'd love Rachel and Ivy together, finally, even a femslash romantic such as myself can see this has become a sad joke that just seems to linger as hollow lipstick lesbian tease.

The mystery of the book is nonexistent for anyone whose read the short stories that reveal all the whodunnit almost at the start of the novel, or incomprehensible for those who haven't read all the prequel shorts and thus have no idea of what is going on or as one friend asked me "Who are these people?!? I don't know what half this book is about." -- The latest book is not an understandable read for anyone who hasn't read the previous books and shorts.

I'd recommend this book for long time fans of Rachel and her crowd. It's great to read more Rachel even if she isn't doing anything really meaningful. This isn't the best book in the series, but even a place marker that treads water is okay if it's just a pause between better things. I really hope things in the next few books pick up though.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I wasn't sure what to think when finishing this book. After finishing an extremely satisfying Outlaw Demon Wails where Kim's writing has been picking up in pace and complexity and the story's richness and character development has become more satisfying with every book, I was left with this one which reminded me of driving down the freeway at 55 mph and having my car stall out. It was like she took a few disjointed ideas and slapped them together or was jotting down notes to set up the story lines for her next few books and we were reading her notebook and a side story that was thrown in to cover all her ideas that were jotted down. YOu can literally read the last 20 pages and not miss any major character development. I didn't *not* enjoy the book, it is always neat when she throws in new characters and the banshees were neat, but it would be nice if Rachel's character starts progressing at this point, I mean she supposedly is a "black" witch and yet really can't do black magic all that well and supposedly gets lessons from Al but what has she learned? And then we meet this new character Pierce and he is a major player that has a major influence on her life, and he only shows up for 20 pages in the whole book? I look forward to the next installment but advise those who read this one to bring a major dose of patience because you're not going to see a lot of main story line development in this book, it is a lot of set up for future installments.
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39 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2009
This seventh volume in the series didn't do it for me.

What I thought was going to be the main storyline, the hunt for Kirsten's killer that started up in the last book, began the story well but was then dropped until the last 50 pages, where it was wrapped up in a wham-bam fashion almost as an afterthought.

In between, we have a mish-mash of things falling into one of two categories. There is tiresome formula. Rachel has troubles with yet another boyfriend. Anyone surprised?...no. Al jerks Rachel around? Anyone surprised?...no. Rachel and Ivy have trouble defining their relationship. Anyone surprised?...well, only in the sense that I thought they finally put this one to rest in the last volume.

The other category is things that seem to come out of left field. Without giving too much away in spoilers...Rachel suffers some serious public relations problems. This is not particularly surprising given what she's had to do over the stories. What is a "huh?!?" moment is that she takes this lying down, almost like she's bought into the "demon marks = black witch" concept. That's so out of character it's just jarring to the reader.

The second "where did this come from?" thing is the whole Pierce subplot. Did I miss a book; is this really #8? (no) It's dropped in like we've known about it for six volumes already.

I hope that the next volume in this series gets back on track. Otherwise, this series won't hold my attention very long--we've seen similar series implode.
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134 of 180 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2009
I have enjoyed Kim Harrison's books so far, it's been a fun playground, but if this book is any indication of future work to come, this may be my last foray into The Hollows. I was going to give this book a 2, then I realized I had almost nothing good to say about it, and thought a 1 was sufficient.

***SPOILERS TO FOLLOW***

The things I liked (what little there was):

Bis is the bomb, such a protective little tyke, it was great to see more of him and get tantalizing hints of his role in things to come. I'm very, very curious to see what sort of part he'll be playing in Rachel's magical development. Obviously a unique one.

Jenks is always a ray of sunshine (or fairy dust), even if he was getting just a little repetitive here. Potentially my favorite of the good guys these days. Oh, and Ford was fun to play with, since he's possible the ONLY male in the entire series Rachel hasn't developed a sexual crush on... yet.

Rynn Cormel. I was interested to see what was going to be done with this character and I wasn't disappointed. I had hoped Harrison wouldn't confine Rynn to happy-go-lucky, good-guy vampire tricks, and she doesn't. He's not quite a bad boy, but he's a very real and dynamic character, made even more interesting by being what he is: lacking a soul and still somehow thriving, if an undead vampire can be said to thrive.

Glimpses of Al and Trent (as they are by far the most interesting mysteries still floating around in this series) were of course, very welcome, and very interesting.

The reasons this is the worst book of this series:

The number one reason: Pierce. I mean, come on now, not only is he a character who ONLY got introduced in a short story, and is spoken about in this book as though he's been there all along, but his importance to Rachel is so contrived that it's laughable. I mean, seriously, we are only now (in book 7!) finding out that ALL ALONG, Rachel has been hedging all her bets against this man, and THAT is the main reason she can't land herself a decent relationship? Oh. Please. I was so disgusted reading about how 'all this time she's been measuring all the other wanna-be's up against him' that I just about had to stop reading. On that note, if you're going to introduce a main character in a short story and then go on like everyone knows who he is, the least you could do is include the short in this book somewhere...

The number two reason, and I never thought I would say this: Rachel. Is it just me or is she getting less and less interesting the longer this series goes on? If she does the 'woe-is-me' routine, or talks about how her life sucks, or it's all her fault people are A) treating her badly or B) leaving her, one more time... I try to be sympathetic, but let's be honest, she gets herself into these situations more often than not. There's a fine balance in writing angst, and this one tipped way too far into the depressing side. And I begin to wonder if Rachel really will ever learn, because one minute she'll be talking about how she's going to change, and then the next minute she's back to doing something stupid (like chasing Banshee's down dark alleys solo when a few pages previous she was talking about how witches are no match for them). I'm beginning to see some stagnation in Rachel as a character.

And btw, I thought she and Ivy had come to an understanding, if not resolved the (possible) romantic issues? Then why is it being rehashed for the billionth time here? A direction really needs to be chosen and stuck with between those two. It's getting seriously annoying, and how sad is it when the two main characters of a series are the most irritating parts of it?

The Banshee story. This book's main B-plot involves a brand new species being introduced into the Hollows. Frankly, I was unimpressed. From the eye-catching title, I had expected far more work with Al (who really only shows up at the end), or at least SOME continuation of the previous remaining loose ends. Aside from Kisten, there was almost none of that here. I realize the author is trying to take the series in a new direction, but so many species and mini-character have already been introduced in the Hollows that, frankly, reading about an unsympathetic Banshee who (like many others) is trying to kill Rachel, was just uninteresting. Glenn and Eddings were fun though.

Marshal. I never cared for his character much in the first place, but I have to admit his exit from the series felt especially strange. If I didn't know better (ahem), I'd say he got shoved out to make room for another love interest. But there wasn't one in this book, right? Oh, wait!

Kisten. Um. Really? The mystery that's been stretched out over maybe three books now? An entire novel dedicated to answering it (and dealing with Banshees... who have to be the most unsympathetic characters that Rachel somehow manages to be sympathetic too. And on that note, you couldn't care less about Banshees killing a family for sustenance, but you'll hate Trent until the day you die for safekeeping his entire race? Alright then...) So the mystery of Kisten.. is no mystery at all. In fact, it's a fact that probably could have been discovered and explained on a side-note, and avoided all the build-up that eventually lead... nowhere. Hey, not everyone can die in a blaze of glory, but I figure a huge opportunity gets missed when you decide to blow it up this big and then crash it with no interesting resolution what-so-ever.

There are many more things, but it would be crying a bit too much to name all the minor details behind my disappointment with WWBC. In summary, definitely the worst book in the series, and thank goodness I didn't actually spend money on it. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
Blood Work is an interesting jump into grown-up picture books. Some comic books are enjoyable, but this one is far from doing Kim Harrison's writing abilities justice. From my own standpoint as an artist, I can understand the intrigue in telling your story visually, but as an avid reader, too much of what makes a Kim Harrison book so great was sacrificed for the end product.

On the book as a Graphic Novel: A good book allows the written word to transform into our own, personal world within our imaginations, filled with our own ideas - like adding a texture to the book and its characters unique to us alone. The concept explains our disappointment when "our" Kisten doesn't look a thing like the young man in the book (I think he mows my lawn). It is also what a comic book takes away from the reader. The power to create something magical from the written word is gone because the illustrations try to do the work that your imagination is supposed to be doing.

I would definitely NOT recommend this title to anyone who has never read a Harrison novel. Her writing ability is too sizable to be confined to speech bubbles and a reader might never get to know how talented Harrison truly is at weaving a tale.

For those who have read her Hollows novels? It doesn't really add anything to the series, so I am sure there will be a plethora of used copies available soon...
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72 of 96 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 20, 2009
OK. I'm going to write this review before reading any of the other reviews. It will be interesting to see if anyone else had the same reactions to Rachel's latest adventure.

AND I CANNOT SAY THIS ANY MORE PLAINLY *****THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*****!!!!!

I felt this was a very frustrating book. At 500 pages, it seemed to drag interminably before coming to any sort of point. Rachel goes a lot of different places, always in a bad mood, has inconclusive conversations with a lot of people, always has to have some sort of drama whenever she tries to leave, then goes some other places. I think probably at least 50 pages could have been cut with no harm to the book whatsoever. And Rachel continues to be pointless irritating on some important issues, like always wanting to be at crime scenes, but not being willing to take the time to learn evidence protection rules.

However, I had worse problems with some other aspects of the book:

1) Pierce!!?? We find out about this incredibly important person in Rachel's life who it just so happens has never been mentioned before. It smells like a retcon, and I don't buy it. I also don't like him for Rachel, at all. If not Ivy, then big Jenks is the obvious choice.

2) Shunning? I don't ever recall such a thing being mentioned before as a possibility. Shouldn't Rachel have been worrying about it pretty often? Shouldn't there have been some warnings, some due process? It seems incredibly arbitrary and political. If that's just the way it is, fine, but we should have heard about it before.

3) Mathilde(sp?) & Jenks. Jenks's wife is dying, and he's torn up about it, but I don't think we've ever heard so much as a whole paragraph of her speech. How are we supposed to care about her when she never comes on-stage? For that matter, what happened to Jenks's son that he was teaching to be his replacement (not the one that went bad, the other one)? And Jenks has money and can use the phone. Why is he so dependant on Rachel to take him shopping? If his wife needs certain herbs so badly, why can't he have them delivered. He's done deals with the outside world apart from Rachel & Ivy before.

4) Marshall. I never did like him, so good riddance, but he still was too much of a presence in this book. I guess the point is no "nice guy" can survive extreme Rachel-ness, but we got that already.

5)The banshees. Mrs. Walker was just wasted -- a good build-up with no resolution, and the whole banshee way of life was too vague for me. Do banshees normally avoid killing and Mia went bad, or do they always killl (untill Holly)? Rachel seems too OK with leaving an "apex predator" free.

6) The ending. Some guy we never heard of killed Kisten? And he's (totally) dead? And he killed this other guy we haven't seen for several books? This was really lame. It reminds me of when Skimmer killed Piscary instead of Rachel or Ivy getting to do it. I also didn't "get" what Rachel was feeling when she burned and sealed the chamber. She does her first "black" magic for why exactly? So nobody will know why Kisten died? Seems like it would have been a good way to force some changes to the vampire "mafia" operating outside the law.

This whole ghost thing coming out of left-field seems to have knocked any advancement of the Trent and studying with Al subplots off the rails too.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2009
I might be in the minority here but I found this book to be the weakest one in the series so far. I actually had to put this book down after Rachel's constant whining became unbearable...she is lonely, she can't keep any relationships, she complains about it, she screws up another relationship, she doesn't understand the ones she has, the end. I mean seriously, where was the action in this book??? And why is Kim Harrison not explaining necessary character descriptions to the reader, such as "what is a banshee?" I am sure one can deduce what a banshee is from the plot but I still don't understand what a banshee is as a species. Second, who the heck is Pierce??? He had to be a Kim Harrison afterthought in order to give Rachel another destructive relationship, because I don't recall him being in any of the previous books. Harrison did not even introduce him into the plot; he basically just shows up as Rachel's next screw up. And third, where was Ceri and the elves? I miss them and they were completely missing from this installment which I found really disappointing. I am not sure if I can read anymore of this series. A character can only remain broken and whiny for so long, and Rachel is definitely at that point. And one more thought...the Ivy and Rachel question needs to end. I have no clue why this dilemma took up most of the book but Harrison needs to finally define their relationship, which I thought she did with "friendship," or she will lose me as a reader.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2009
Rachel's in trouble, Ivy wants more from their relationship, Matalina is dying, baby pixies are screaming and getting in trouble, people are constantly scolding Rachel, Rachel goes her own way for the "good" of others, Rachel is worried about her mother, Rachel's brother is criticizing her, someone close to Rachel is hurt, the whole world is against Rachel, Al is causing her trouble, Rachel is fretting over the demon marks, someone is playing on the demon marks, etc., etc., etc. Same song, eighth verse.

Halfway through one more bad thing happened to Rachel and I just quit reading. I never do that. But I was just so fed up with the repetition and the bleakness of her life that I gave up. Like Rachel said she just can't seem to catch a break.

It's too bad because Harrison started the whole urban fantasy thing (at least for me) and as another reviewer mentioned she has built a great world. She is a good writer but not a plotter. She doesn't seem to know how to let her characters grow and/or move forward. Most series should follow an arc and then end - with at least a nominally happy ending!

It looks like Harrison is starting a new series and I will probably give that a try but, I have long since started checking these out of the library rather than buying them.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2009
I'll be blunt - this book was a disappointing effort. Not every novel in a series can be a barn burner, so I'll give Ms. Harrison a break, but this was by far the weakest in the collection. Here were my problems:

** SPOILERS **

1.) The last book ended with the very interesting premise of Al and Rachel as mentor/student. Want to know how that's progressing? You won't find the answer in this book.

2.) The whole banshee plotline ticked me off. Maybe I'm missing a sympathy bone somewhere, but I thought a bullet to the head was in order. It wasn't realistic, either. Ivy getting jumped by scrawny serial-killer dude as he escapes custody for what seemed like the millionth time? No. And the longer it dragged on, with Rachel demanding sympathy for Momma banshee, the more I wished for a quick and violent ending.

2b.) The dynamics of Human/Inderland society are becoming increasingly unbelievable. In the latest book, humans are looked upon as nothing but cattle by an apathetic I.S. force, and the FIB is completely incompetent. How long would this situation continue before angry/frightened people took the law into their own hands? There was a point in the novel where Rachel was arguing vehemently for Banshee Peace and Understanding and someone finally said, "what about the Tilsons?" You know, the married couple they murdered? Oh yeah. The Tilsons. Whoops.

3.) Ivy/Rachel relationship. Come on. Move it along, already. It's gonna happen, right? So happen a bit faster.

4.) Who the heck is Pierce and why do I care? I don't. See #3.

*** END SPOILERS ***

I'm going to pretend this novel didn't happen. Hopefully volume 8 will kick it up a notch.
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