Thursday, June 12, 2008

Meet me in St. Louis...

...well, maybe not. Not this version, anyway.

When I start reading a series, I usually use the devouring method. I read everything as quickly as possible and then wait impatiently for more. I worked my way through Janet Evanovich's entire Stephanie Plum series in two weeks*--that was eleven books at the time--and began haunting the library's New Arrivals section the day the next book came out.

Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series is different. Three years into reading them, I'm only on book eight. They're my guilty pleasure, my indulgence--but I can only read them when I'm in the right mood, and that mood only comes around three times a year or so. It's not that they're that good, because they're not. I mean, they're decent books, but Hamilton is a little bit of a hack, and Anita is a classic Mary Sue. No, I don't come for the writing, or for the characterization. I come for the sex. And there's plenty of that, even in the first several books where most of the main characters were celibate.

Actually, that's not even accurate. I come for the sexual tension and the supernatural aspects, although whichever critic at the New York Review of Science Fiction supplied the quote on the back of all of the books was clearly on drugs. R-rated Buffy my ass. The only thing the two have in common is the vampires. The writing on Buffy had subtlety. Hamilton prefers to hit you with an anvil.

As does Anita, actually. As a rule, I can't stand books with obnoxious main characters, and Anita is certainly that. But somehow it works, for now. I understand that the later books in the series are worse--like throw the book across the room worse. I've been told that at some point, Hamilton drops all pretense and begins shoehorning sex scenes in wherever she possibly can--there is a succubus subplot that seems to be universally reviled, but I haven't gotten there yet. They're not erotica, but I can't put my finger on why, exactly--perhaps they're not explicit enough?

But for now, for me, these books feel decadent. They're made to be read in the bathtub with a glass of wine and some sort of bath-related smelly thing. So that's where Blue Moon and I are headed right now.

* If you have not read these books, do it now. You'll die laughing.

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