For the tenth book in the challenge, I read Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, the first in her Kate Daniels series. This was a Vaginal Fantasy group pick. I gave this one a three out of five stars, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, this is a complex world Andrews has created, and she just drops us into it with little to no explanation of how it works. This isn’t automatically a bad thing, but there is a lot of jargon and references to things that she doesn’t explain for a while. The effect is like walking into a conversation about other people at the party you’re attending, and you’re trying to figure out who they’re talking about, and whether or not what they’re saying is true or jealous gossip, but no one actually goes so far as to say anything identifying enough. It’s very nearly maddening.
Secondly, the main character takes some getting used to, and I don’t think I ever quite got the knack of it. Kate Daniels is described by some as “spunky” or “feisty,” but she could also be described as “immature” and “unnecessarily antagonistic.” I realize that this makes her someone who won’t roll over and let the alpha male she’s up against steamroll her, but this particular variation of strong just got on my nerves. In the interest of fairness, though, Kate does eventually have enough sense to stop taunting whatever predator is currently hunting her (long after it should have struck, clearly held back by the author’s hand), which is more than I can say for Anita Blake, and look how many books THAT one sold.
Thirdly, the story tends to skip over some important scenes. I don’t know if the editor chucked them out to keep the page count down or if Andrews never quite got certain scenes quite right when the deadline hit, but it gave me some whiplash in several places. Given that I’m reading on an e-reader, I’m constantly paranoid about missing pages due to poor programming or digital conversion, and a couple of times I took to GoodReads and other such sites looking for total page numbers, to verify that I wasn’t missing something. No, that rather important scene just wasn’t in the book.
Fourthly, Curran is a big alpha male jerk made entirely of abs and biceps half the time, tender and sensitive and wise and doe-eyed in his neediness the other half of the time. URGH. I hate the “he’s only a dominant asshole because people neeeeeeed him to beeeeeeee for the good of the maaaaannnnyyyyyy” line. So tired of that schtick.
All these considered, it wasn’t a terrible book at all. The dialogue managed to be snappy in places, the complicated world is an interesting, problematic, difficult take on the fight between magic and technology, and I enjoyed that. For once, there was no insta-love! Extra two points. Kate has a good reason to get in over her head on this case, and it’s a shame we don’t get to see more of her dead friend. He sounds like somebody I would go wibbly over.
But seriously, Boone’s Farm? And how many times did she say it like that – not wine cooler, not malt beverage, not even the dubious claim of “wine,” but Boone’s Farm every time? That’s like saying “Pepsi-Cola” every time a character asks for or drinks or even gestures with a soda. Okay, that’s nit-picking, I admit. BUT STILL. I’m a nit-picker sometimes.