Pop Quiz: is this a sexually objectifying cover?

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, by Laurell K. Hamilton. So I have to say that I was a lot more excited about these books before I read more of them. Last time I mentioned them, I had read books 1-3. Well, I have now read books 1-6, and I have started to get annoyed by some patterns.

The series follows an animator (zombie raiser) named Anita Blake through her various supernatural exploits. In addition to raising zombies for money she is a consultant for the police’s Spook Squad, created after the vampires went public and assigned to solving preternatural crimes. Anita gets involved with witches, voodoo priests, vampires, lycanthropes, fairies and even Raw Head and Bloody Bones, a figure out of old American folk myth. There’s lots of violence and even some sex by the end of book six.

Things I did like: I will say that I really like Anita. She is a fantastic character, and it’s even more awesome that she’s a female character. She’s 5’3″, trained in hand-to-hand combat and knows how to use pretty much any weapon you can think of–but she knows her limits, and fights intelligently rather than with brute anything. She’s emotionally grounded, very cautious, and tries to keep a cool head no matter what’s thrown at her because she knows panic won’t save her. The books are told from her first person perspective and it is really wonderful.

The creature hierarchy, like with the Southern Vampire Mysteries, is really interesting. There are master vampires and lycanthropes, who control flocks of weaker creatures, and not every vampire can become a master. It’s not all about age. And because no vampire series is complete without a vampire lover, Anita has her very own master vampire, Jean-Claude. Like Sookie and Eric, Jean-Claude finds himself feeling completely new (or rather, old) things with Anita, things he hadn’t thought possible anymore. Anita very sensibly resists him for a long time, steadfastly denying her own attraction to him because she knows how dangerous he is.

But, like I said at the top, while there are things I love about the series, there are a couple of things that will probably keep me from reading the rest of the books.

Everyone hates/underestimates Anita. Everyone. I first noticed it with cops. The Spook Squad acts kind of like the FBI in that they often go out to assist county departments with preternatural crimes. Well, all the way through book six, there’s always (ALWAYS) at least one jackass cop who picks a fight with Anita, either because they a) don’t think she can hack it because she’s a woman and/or pretty or b) don’t believe she’s useful as a preternatural expert or c) both, plus some sexual harassment thrown in. Seriously. It’s like she meets said jackass cop and then a page later guns are drawn and someone’s gonna die. This is tiresome. I accepted it in the first book because of characterization, premise, etc. Sure, she’s a little pretty woman who’s also only 24. She will face lots of opposition from old-timer cops. I know this. It’s okay to throw it back in every now and then. BUT NOT EVERY GODDAMN TIME. This also happens with any supernatural creatures she faces–no, not the ones she’s fighting. THE ONES THAT ARE ON HER SIDE.

Hamilton repeats stock phrases. This is more of a personal annoyance than a plot gripe, but Hamilton definitely uses phrases over and over and over again, and it sort of takes a chunk out of her writer credibility for me. Or her editor’s credibility. Especially when said phrases appear within a page of each other. Some to watch out for:

  • “so much meat” as in, “Her torn-out throat looked like so much meat.” Variations include “so much raw meat” and “just so much meat.” Meat can also be sexual. Used approximately every ten pages, every two if at a crime scene or in a battle.
  • “It was the bravest thing I’d done all night.” Usually in reference to not typically scary things. Literally used a page apart ON THE SAME NIGHT. 

Overall the books were still enjoyable, but not so enjoyable that I will continue to read them (there are like twenty-two of them). I recommend them for very casual reading at least through book six. I can’t vouch for them after that.

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