Monday, November 7, 2011

Loved, by Morgan Rice. Book 2 of the Vampire Journals

Caitlin and Caleb are on a quest to find a sword. The greatest sword in the vampire's arsenal, a sword that could end the war between the vampire races, a war that could ensure victory.

And victory is essential. The evil Dark Tide Coven is pursuing its war against the good vampires – and against humanity. They are ready to march and have already placed vast containers of modified plague underneath New York to wipe out humanity.

Of course, Cailtin an Caleb are not the only ones after the sword – another vampire, Samantha, has manipulated Caitlin's brother Sam toget her own claws on the blade – and Kyle, one of the oldest and most evil of the acktide Coven, also hunts the sword to get back into his masters good graces.

Through all this Caitlin is delving into her own family's past – and more, the past of the vampire race entirely to say nothing of her own developing powers as a vampire. Oh and she adopts a wolf.

Have you ever been on a treasure hunt? You know, following a series of cryptic clues that lead you to more cryptic clues which, in turn, lead you to yet more clues to finally reach the prize?

That's basically the plot of this book. I don't mean that in a dismissive manner, since I think that plotline can be well done. But it does make for a narrow plot that is hard to summarise – the tension,. The discovery the wonder, the brain teasing, the wonder, the race – that can all be a very good plot line but hard to summarise adequately

I will say, in this case, that I'm not overly worried by the lack – because all of that, the wonder, the race, the tension, is all kind of missing. There's no real brain teasers unless you are intimately familiar with New England's early history. There is a lot of info-dumping going on as they reach each step of the journey and feel the need to have a history lesson. It wasn't particularly exciting, tense or impactful – especially since there isn't really a lot of hype about how amazing this sword really is. The whole thing felt more like a meandering walking tour holiday to historic places of interest than a desperate quest to save vampire and mankind.

Characterisation in this book feels very off to me. There's a lot of incidents where the emotions and thought of the characters just do not make sense or, more usually, are simply grossly exaggerated or disproportionate to the trigger.

Like Caitlin and Caleb happen to go to her old high school – and Cailtin is jealous because the POPULAR girls are looking at Caleb! Surely this is a dire epic threat that Caitlin should fear and not in any way a complete lack of perspective! Of course, Caleb will abandon his several thousand year old quest in favour of high school seniors...

And Sam, while stoned, wasn't warm and fuzzy with his sister. The way they both act you'd think he vomited on her shoes – he was curt but it hardly warranted the degree of guilt shown

And of course, the romance. There is much talk of love and devotion and her not being able to stand it if they were parted. And she wants to ask him – does he care for her? Even if there was no magic sword, would he love her? Remember at this point they have known each other for a week. A week. One week. Seriously. By the end of the book (maybe another week) they're talking about spending eternity together.

Samantha hasn't even spent a week with Sam and already this cold, calculating, callous, murdering vampire is worried about killing Sam (seriously, get a new name, Sam & Samantha?) because she is developing feelings for him. I think it begins maybe 8 hours after she meets him.

And the bad guy? The bad guy wants to annihilate humanity, literally. He thinks World War 2 was funsies. He revels in the Black Death. He wants mooore plague, mooore. He hates humans so much he randomly shoulder barges people he walks past, because he haaaates them, HAAATES them. Fear the vampiric shoving!

Everything is so overdone and so childish. It's lacking in any subtlety.  It's clumsy

The writing, oh the writing. The internal monologues are terrible stream of consciousness exercises – they ramble, repeat and flail all over the point without ever actually making it. And the dialogue? No-one speaks in these books – they make speeches. Dramatic speeches. With short sentences. Usually very short. But many of them. So you can imagine the dramatic pauses. And they speak like this all the time. And it's so florid. Remembering that she's a teenager, it's so overdone, so very very purple. Everything is so dramatic and dialled to maximum.

Aaaand the writing itself is awful, the sentence structure is tortured with lots of little orphaned semi-sentences begging to be completed or removed and put out of their agony. It's then sprinkled with commas, apparently at random. Not only did this book need an editor, but I think if you'd sent out a copy an editor and 10 English teachers would have shown up, crying and wailing and begging, BEGGING, to help.

Was it better than the first book? Yes. But, I'm sorry, that wasn't exactly a high standard to reach.