Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2015
Let me begin by stating here and now that I bought this book on accident. I'm making this point clearly because if I'd borrowed it or it had been given to me, I would have stopped reading it. But because I actually spent money on it, I felt obligated.
The next point I'm going to make is I don't usually make a habit of leaving bad reviews that nitpick or are overly critical, as I'm a huge fan of "If you can't say nothing nice, don't say nothing at all". This point I'm making because I am about to go against every fiber of my being and do the exact opposite of being nice.
Out of all the Anita Blake books I've read, this one is the worst. I have never felt so sad and angry about a book series in my life. Sad because I believed in it so much, adore many of the characters...and angry because I feel they are being mistreated.
In the beginning, Anita is being asked to give her expertise involving a morbid video featuring zombie pornography. Not unheard of, unfortunately, but something about this video puts her on edge. The zombie's soul is somehow back in its body, and she's aware of every agonizing moment she's being touched. Such a ritual rings with familiarity, but the only problem is the only person who could have done it is very dead.
The case itself only takes up the very beginning and the very ending of the book. The middle part may as well be titled "filler because I have nothing else to write". From one chapter to the next we are constantly reminded of what everyone looks like (though let's be honest here. If you've made it this far and don't know Jean-Claude's hair is black, or Micah's eyes are chartreuse, since she gives the exact same description word for word every book...), and we watch Anita bully her way through staff to remind them how big and bad she is.
Jean-Claude wants to make her his queen, but she despises the term. However, she acts very much like it. Just about every chapter features her arguing/fighting (and of course winning). Same scene, different characters. I've wanted to type these words the moment I recognized the pattern: Just because she can bully everyone around and be "one of the guys" does not make her a "strong female character". It makes her a bully. In fact, some of the issues she's arguing about with others is they simply disagree with her lifestyle. Bullying someone into accepting you is no different than being bullied by someone who doesn't accept you. A "strong female character" doesn't have to prove it every chapter.
As far as sex goes, this book isn't dripping with body fluids. In fact, I might even be willing to check this one out from a library without worrying. Two sex scenes and a bit of nude cuddling, so for those of you hoping this will be like the other books Hamilton has become infamous for, sorry to disappoint.
I was excited, like many readers, when I learned Hamilton had finally allowed for an editor. Even then it is clear either she chose the wrong one, or the editor's hands were tied (and strung up for Asher to whine at or Richard to holier-than-thou all over). At 4%, she explains there had been a falling out between herself and Larry Kirkland. At 49%, and 57%, she makes the exact. Same. Points. This book was filled with redundancy do badly it'll make your eyes bleed.
Also, book 101: Never do the think it, then say it. Multiple times in the book Anita would think something, explain the thought to us in her mind, only to have one of the other characters ask the exact same question word for word.
Many of the characters have changed dramatically. Some of the changes are understandable, but for the most part they are inconsistent.
To Hamilton, sex is power. I'm not talking about just the ardeur, many times Anita is almost "pimped out" to help increase the power bases of others. For so long she speaks of the value she puts on love and marriage, yet it's so easy for them all to just accept when someone they barely know must be added to their commitment ceremony... um.
All in all, I think Hamilton has turned into one of the arrogant authors that rely on people buying books just because it has their name on it. But maybe one day she'll listen to what her readers are saying rather than simply ignoring them.
She speaks of not objectifying the women (even beats up a douchebag in the locker room for being suggestive to fellow female employees) yet I ask here...what does she think she's doing to the men? Why is it not okay to do to the girls, but totally acceptable to do towards the men? Hypocrisy smells must foul.
I hope this long review proves helpful. Don't waste your money, for this book is like a bad relationship. It's comfortable, it's familiar, but in the end you'll still be disappointed. Check it out in the library or borrow it, but save your money. Then skip from the first few chapters until about 85% if you want to skip the boring parts.