224 of 248 people found the following review helpful
If only I could give this "0 Stars",
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This review is from: Blood Noir (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 16) (Hardcover)
This book is terrible. I mean, truly terrible. It's unoriginal at best, a waste of paper at its most truthful. I may have some spoilers in here, so be warned.
In this particular offering, Anita's "friend" Jason needs her to pose as his girlfriend to visit his dying father so that his "ultra-conservative, white-bread" family won't continue to think that Jason is gay. Jason gets kidnapped due to a sadly predictable plot twist and big bad Anita saves the day. If it sounds like a poorly written soap opera, it gets worse. I won't spoil it for you. In sum, "Noir" is more of the same drivel I've come to expect from Hamilton. Yes, there is less sex. Not much less, though, and the sex hasn't been replaced with plot. Scenes are stretched to their breaking point and beyond, pointless conversations abound, and the sex is thrown in when there is a lull in plot progression. There is very little action. I've been told that this novel was a novella first, and that does explain some of its problems, but certainly not all. This book has the same problems that all but the first 4 Anita books have. Characters are unbelievable, unoriginal, and for the most part, two-dimensional. Anita herself utterly destroys any suspension of disbelief that Hamilton can muster. Anita is a pure example of "Mary Sue-ism" or "Snappy Sue-ism". For an explanation of what I mean, go to [...] and [...]. Anyone who has read any of Hamilton's books will find these articles to ring sadly true for Anita. Anita is a necromancer, a vampire slayer, a Federal marshal, a Lupa (queen of the werewolves), a Bolverk (enforcer for the werewolves), a living succubus with her own animal(s) to call and a "triumverate" (a stupid, stupid word) of power, a human servant, a Nimir-raj (queen of the wereleopards), and in "Noir", she adds little queen of the were-tigers to the already downright silly list. She is also in a poly-amorous relationship with multiple men who are not allowed to be with anyone but her, has sex with them all day long, and still can walk upright enough to do all the occupations listed. Any attractive man that Anita comes across wants, needs, falls madly in love with her and becomes her slave, and all women envy her. Most of the men are strippers. Though each of Anita's men is a supernatural (and very well-endowed) powerhouse, Anita is stronger than all of them combined, and must protect them like a nest of newborn bunnies from all the big bad that inexplicably surrounds Anita. Personal fantasy much? You be the judge.
There is little plot to be had in the Anita Blake series, and what plot there is has been ripped from the pages of other books or White Wolf and Dungeons and Dragons games. The majority of the book is taken up by poorly written sex and useless dialog about sex and/or how wonderful/powerful Anita is. Hamilton once wrote a response to her critics, in which she says that one shouldn't read her books if they didn't want to think, or if they wanted comfort, or didn't want to push the envelope. I find this to be a ridiculous expression of Hamilton's overblown ego. Never have I found the Anita Blake novels thought provoking in any way. (Other than the obvious "Why did I buy this" question I pose to myself over and over) These books are at best fluff. Mindless entertainment.
Anne Rice's earlier vampire novels made me think. They caused me to feel something, to question myself and my beliefs about good and evil. Anne Rice's vampire novels also pushed the envelope. Her "Interview with the Vampire" was the first book to show vampires as more (and less) than monsters, as feeling, thinking beings. Hamilton tries far too hard to push the envelope. She does so by throwing in kinky sex (also done by Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite, who wrote a very good if little-read vampire novel), a poorly researched and horribly depicted version of BDSM (which was also done, and I think, very well by Anne Rice in her "Sleeping Beauty" series and "Exit to Eden". Hell, there's even an auburn-haired guy named Richard whose nicknamed "Wolf" in "Exit".), and hints at and gives lip service to, but rarely if ever shows, homosexuality. (Again done first by Anne Rice in a supernatural setting and then to death by other writers). Though she hints at or throws these things into the mix, none of them are done believably or well. Most of her male leads are gay or bisexual, but all of them want Anita and they are never allowed to have sexual contact with one another, as per Anita's rule. Hamilton rails against monogamy in the novels, but only for Anita. All of her lovers must be monogamous with her, or be refused in bed. This even applies to Jean-Claude (a blatant rip-off and amalgamation of Anne Rice's Lestat and Louis), her "master" an incubus who uses sex to feed and from whom Anita got her own "ardure". It rings more than fake, it is utterly ridiculous and cruel. It is hinted at in "Noir" that Anita may deign to allow two of her men to make love, but I will be truly surprised if this happens, or if it does, if it gets more than a paragraph. Hamilton's BDSM is a horror. The BDSM scenes are silly, over the top, or in the case of "Noir", very vanilla and boring. It is written from the view of a vanilla, Mid-Western, suppressed mindset. For all of Hamilton's constant lectures on how open-minded and left-wing she is, the way she writes causes me to believe the exact opposite. In her series, anyone who likes BDSM was abused as a child and either likes to be horribly injured or completely dominated in every aspect of their lives. There is no safe word, no trust, no love. There is only Anita doing whatever she wants to whomever she wants, whenever she wants to do it. As always.
The "ardure" in "Noir" is still an excuse for Anita to have non-consensual sex with everyone and anyone. If the genders were reversed, and Anita was a man with a harem of women, how well received would these books be? Why is rape okay when it happens to men? Of course, in the novels, none of the men mind afterwords because they fall predictably and unbelievably in love with Anita. I find the books to be one giant comfortfest for Anita, and for the writer. Anita's ego is constantly stroked and enlarged by all other characters. If for any reason a character does not believe that the sun does not rise and set on Anita's command, he or she is belittled, reviled, or done away with. All of the male characters (with the exception of Nathaniel) are "powerful men", yet they constantly need Anita to save them. Jean-Claude and Richard got kidnapped, Richard's family got kidnapped, Micah was being threatened, Nathaniel was kidnapped and in "Noir", yet another "strong" man will be kidnapped. Who saves them all? Anita. Believable? No. Comforting and ego enlarging? Yes. Jean-Claude and Richard become more and more whiny, needy, and dependent upon Anita as the books progress, leading me to believe that the author mocking them up to be strong men was for the sole benefit of making Anita look even stronger when she breaks them to her will. There are also very few female characters in the novels so that Anita has no competition. Those that are there are either weaklings whom Anita must kick around and protect,they are jealous bitches who hate Anita because all the men love her so, or they are lesbians who want to have sex with Anita.
Anita seems to be heavily based on Hamilton herself, and the whole series reads like a lonely woman's slightly dark sex fantasy. Almost everything in Anita's background was taken directly from Hamilton's life. I'm not saying that it's wrong for an author to do that, but it ceases to be fiction at some point.
I haven't even bothered to go over all of the inconsistencies in plot, character description, or spelling errors left in Hamilton's finished works. She seriously needs to proof-read and remember what she's written before. If Hamilton can't remember what has happened in previous books, how can she expect the rest of us to? Or to even bother?
I know that most of Hamilton's oldest fans (myself included) want "the old Anita" back. This isn't going to happen. Ever. Hamilton has discovered that she can write an entire book about nothing but sex and how wonderful her main character is and make millions. Why would she ever go back? Research is difficult and time consuming. Plots take time, thought, and originality to come up with. Why not just jot down her own fantasies and cash in? I really think that the only people who still buy these books are A.teenage Goths and bored housewives who get their jollies off the icky were-monster sex, B. die hard fans, or those who had the books recommended to them by A or B. At this point, my expectations are so low that I wouldn't mind the books if all they were was interesting sex, but Hamilton can't even manage that. Don't buy this book. If you must read it, borrow it from the library or read it in the bookstore. If no one buys this crap, maybe, just maybe Hamilton will understand what she's done to what was a promising series and became less that a Mary-Sued Buffy the Vampire slayer fanfic.
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 3, 2008 10:19:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2008 10:24:47 AM PDT
peter canellos says:
You've covered everything I find so objectionable about Hamilton's twisted pov except for the crypto-child-porn of the relationship with Nathaniel.
Anita is as power-mad, perverted, and delusional as Caligula at this point. It's incredible to me that the author and her easily led fans don't see how horrendous they would find Anita's behavior if she were a man, and that characters who are tormented or outright murdered when they attempt to hold on to a shred of independence are seen as getting their just desserts.
Posted on Jun 3, 2008 3:08:02 PM PDT
Loved your particularly apt description of Anita "protecting her men like a nest of newborn bunnies from the big bad..." ;-D
You've also managed direct hits on 99% of the reasons I find LKH's rapidly devolving work unreadable.
Great review, filled with specifics!
Posted on Jun 3, 2008 9:01:06 PM PDT
Jennifer J. Moody says:
And let's not forget that she's paving the way for sex with Edward's underage stepson. I mean, really. Ew.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2008 8:29:13 PM PDT
Ah, yes. Nathaniel. Absolutely everything that Hamilton has ever written about Nathaniel makes me nauseous. I teeter on the fence about whether or not it's kiddie porn, since he *is* of age. However, his neediness and child-like behaviour make me feel dirty. Though the author goes on and on about how okay it is to enjoy different things in bed, she consistantly tells us otherwise with Nathaniel. He likes to be dominated because he was abused as a child and by Raina. We are told that is bad, but Anita dominates him anyway. Sure, Anita makes grand statements about how horrible what she's doing (or not doing)with Nathaniel is. It doesn't stop her, though. She makes him her 1950's housewife (Hamilton's own words), and he loves it. Anita does nothing that Nathaniel asks and makes him feel like a pervert at every turn, but he loves Anita anyway. When this senario became too ridiculous even for the author to explain, she chalked it up to "vampire powers". How convenient.
What also bothers me about Nathaniel (and Edward's stepson) is that Hamilton attempts to make the things that go on between them and Anita seem okay. Better than okay. Right, just, and healing. How is abusing the abused theraputic? It also paves the way for numerous teenagers to seek out these kinds of adults in real life. Look at some of the profiles on Myspace. You'll find things in common on many of them: Anita Blake,BDSM and underage. How in the world can a 16-year old Anita Blake fan possibly know that they want to meet an adult for BDSM? Especially Anita Blake's kind of BDSM. The kind where people get really and truly hurt, the kind where there is no safety, trust, or love. It also makes some adults think that this is okay, too. Imagine what would happen if those people were to meet, and used those books as guidelines? I'm not saying that authors should be held accountable if someone takes their stories too seriously, but the way Hamilton presents certain themes in her novels is unhealthy and unsafe. People keep trying to tell her this, but they are almost always ignored. In "Noire", she throws in a safe-word to appease those in the know, but it's not for Nathaniel. No, it's for Anita, when she so graciously allows Nathaniel to velcro her hands to the bedpost and "top" her by having her tell him what to do while she's tied up. Nathaniel has no safe word when he's pinned down or chained to a wall and being carved into coldcuts, but Anita gets a safe-word when she could get free at any time? Just more of the same twisted, self-serving mindset.
As a side (or not so side-)note, Hamilton's current husband, Jon, was 19 (Nathaniel's age) when they first met. I have a feeling that this has more to do with the Nathaniel character than anything given the author's habit of using her real life to create her characters.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2008 7:33:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 6, 2008 7:45:35 AM PDT
peter canellos says:
What Hamilton shows, as opposed to what Anita says, is not that she is a healing force, but rather that the only correct path in the Anitaverse is the joyful acceptance of slavery to Anita. Those who resist are said to be in need of "therapy", much like political prisoners in the former Soviet Union.
Nate/ Micah/Jon have always accepted it, so they are presented as healthy and well-adjusted. JC accepts his degradation, Asher struggled for a while but was mollified when he was allowed access to her vagina dentata (just like JC). The only characters who possess enough real self-esteem to believe they have a right to refuse Anita are said to be denying their nature, and are horribly punished for it.
It really bothers me that even non-troos, and those who claim to be feminists, continue to revile Richard/Gary the ex-husband, for doing what they would find admirable in a woman: setting reasonable boundaries, standing up to a bully, and trying to hold on to some independence. He is even blamed for hurting her feelings when he leaves her after she metaphysically rapes him in NiC! If the genders were flipped, he would be sympathized with, rather than reviled, and Anita's tyranny would be glaringly apparent. In fact, I seriously doubt a mainstream publisher would dare to publish a contemporary series with a leading male character who behaved this abusively towards women.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2008 4:41:11 PM PST
What an excellent review! I whole-heartedly agree with the sentiments. What the series started out with and where it has SUNK to is mind-blowing.
I haven't read the last two or three installments, but remember feeling icky with the introduction and development of Nathaniel. Sounds like it has only gotten worse. Plus, after reading what several posters are saying regarding the stepson (Obsidian Butterfly was one of the last books I enjoyed by Ms. Hamilton) of Edward, I realize I will not be returning to the Anita series, ever. Enough is enough.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2008 8:43:20 AM PST
Shelley A. Adams says:
Thanks for putting up these comments about her books. I was looking for something enjoyable and fun nothing serious (I will admit I was looking for something a little trashy) Thank you for saving me some money because these books sound like the exact opposite of what I am looking for.
Posted on Dec 20, 2008 5:28:48 PM PST
I completely agree with your Mary-Sue comments. AB:VH's original appeal, at least for me, in the fact that she was the scrappy underdog, armed with nothing but a gun, a cross, and a snappy comeback. Now, even though she seems to have morphed into Ultra-Fantasic-Super-Queen-of-the Universe, she's still gaining powers left, right, and center.
A correlation to your bit about all the characters having to be her subservient sex toys: has anyone else noticed that any character not willing or eligible (by dint of gender, age, or un-sexiness) to be her bitch mysteriously drops out of the plot? Think about it: Dr. Louis Fane, an influential wererat, Richard's best friend, and someone who had several times helped Anita on cases? Gone. Veronica Sims, Anita's buddy and occasional investigative colleague? Out of the picture. Bert Vaughn, her loveably slimy boss? Dead to the world. By the way, what on earth happened to Animators, Inc.? Does she even still have a job? And then there's the whole matter of RPIT...
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2009 1:45:43 AM PST
I think I love you for this review! It hits just about everything I now avidly dislike about the plot!
Posted on Feb 26, 2009 12:06:12 PM PST
Christine H. says:
Regarding your statement, "and a "triumverate" (a stupid, stupid word)", I wanted to point out that Hamilton didn't make the word up. The term triumvirate (from Latin, "of three men") is commonly used to describe a political regime dominated by three powerful individuals. The term is an appropriate description of what Jean-Claude, Richard and Anita are.