I am only so lofty in my blog post title because Laurell K. Hamilton can afford for me to hate her. And really, I don’t hate her. She is an incredibly talented writer who has many skills I don’t, and my never have as a writer.
For me writers break into three groups: Plot driven writers, Character driven writers, and the elusive perfect mix of both. Ilona Andrews did a great blog post in May that also delved into something similar to plot vs character when writing a series. Neither plot nor character can exist in a vacuum, you have to have both to keep a reader, but I find that authors tend to stray toward one end of the spectrum or the other.
I admit that Dead Ice was the first Laurell K. Hamilton book that I finished. I had tried and failed in the past to pick up an Anita Blake story, and I just couldn’t stay hooked. This time I tried an audio book and trapped myself in the car for 10 hours. To me Ms. Hamilton is a character driven writer. The back cover blurb has a great plot point about a zombie sex slave ring that we assume Anita will bust up and save the day. This came out prominently in the opening chapters. It stopped at chapter 4. I waited over twenty chapters before the plot came back around to the zombie sex slave ring. Anita had fleeting thoughts about her current case, but mostly she dealt with her complicated poly-amorous love life, which I found unbelievable and simultaneously fascinating. The book mostly felt like an in-depth look into a poly-amorous relationship, as that theme dominated most of the chapters. Near the end of the book Anita solves her case and breaks up the Zombie sex slave ring.
A few other things disappointed me even for a character driven writer. Anita didn’t seem to change significantly over the course of the novel. Some of her relationships changed, but not because of an internal struggle taking place within her. Also, there were some inconsistencies between how she interacted with other characters vs her internal thoughts. Example: She chastised another agent for calling the zombie sex slave “kink”, and then later when thinking about it to herself thought about it as “kink”. Lastly, in terms of repetitive phrasing, I could made a drinking game from the phrase “Work your issue(s)”.
Final Assessment (Five diamond scale):
I don’t think I’ll be picking up another Anita Blake story for awhile.