Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review of 'Succubus Dreams' by Richelle Mead

I unabashedly love this series, yes, yes, I do.  Succubus Dreams actually read more like a paranormal romance than a straight up urban fantasy book, but not even that could diminish my desire to find out what happened to the protagonist Georgina Kincaid.

Kincaid walks into a bar to find Carter, three angels and human sitting together.  Joel, one of the angels clearly does not like or trust her. At every opportunity he is downright hostile towards her.  Carter and his crew of angels are clearly up to something but realizing that it is pointless to question them, Kincaid stays to have a few drinks.  At the end of the night Carter asks her to let Vincent the human stay with her while they are on their secret angel mission.  Kincaid reluctantly agrees.  

Feeling left out of the angel intrigue, Kincaid continues to work at the bookstore and date her mortal boyfriend Seth.  Things seem to be going well between the two of them but they are constantly having little arguments.  Kincaid hides her painful memories and Seth complains about the lack of communication between them.  If that were not enough, the imp that Kincaid sold her soul to, comes to town with a brand new Succubus, who becomes Georgina's responsibility. Just when things seem like they could not get anymore complicated, Georgina begins to have vivid dreams about that which she wants the most - a child.  The problem with these vivid dreams is that each time they happen, they drain her of all of her energy.

Throughout each book, we are continually reminded that what Georgina wants the most is a child.  Mead makes a point of reminding her readers that this is an impossibility, because Georgina is a succubus. Even though Georgina has had a history of heartbreak with many men in the thousand plus years of her immortal life, it is the inability to be a mother that seems to haunt.  When motherhood was first mention in Succubus Blues, the first book in this series, we are told that there was social pressure for Georgina to become pregnant. It is fair to say that during that period in history, a woman's value lay strictly in her ability to reproduce.  I can understand the internalization of such ideas then but Georgina has had over a thousand years to shirk this pressure, yet all she seems to want is the 2.5 kids and the White picket fence.

I know that to respect women, we need to respect all of their reproductive choices but I would have loved to see Georgina's character slip away from the mommy role that is pushed on women whether they want it or not.  I also suppose that one could legitimately argue that the desire to be a mother is transformative for the genre itself because outside of one slayer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I cannot think of any other references to either a desire to mother, or being an actual mother in this genre.  

Unlike the previous book, Mead does not engage in attempting to make any major points about social justice.  There still are no GLBT characters and with the exception of a woman of colour swooping in to potentially Seth away from her, they really do play a minor role. This book really was all about the sacrifices that we make for love.  There is a romantic notion that love solves all problems but in reality even in a situation where love is pure and strong, that is not always enough to bind two people together. Sometimes no matter how much we want it to be different, love is destined to break our heart. I suppose even saying that makes me sound in a romantic, but something about this book made me want to believe in the possibility of star crossed lovers.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I hope that in the next book, that we move past the romance and return to more interactions with the supernatural.  I am especially curious about Carter.  Though he is an angel, he seems to have a vested interest in Georgina's well being. He seems to be a very complex character and I hope that in the stories to come that his role will be enlarged.

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