Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pure Blooded (Jessica McClain #5) by Amanda Carlson

Jessica has survived the Underworld and now that she is back, it's off to save her father who has been battling Made wolves.  From the moment Jessica's plane takes to the air, she quickly realises that while she might be back on an earthly plane, she is in no less danger.  Having pissed off a Hag, by killing her sister, Jessica's fate is in great flux.  Thankfully, Jessica has a strong team around her but is Jessica strong enough to fight off the creator of the werewolves now that he Hags have set them up on a collision course.

It's book five and at this point, it very much feels like Carlson is sick of her own story.  Nothing happened in Pure Blooded, absolutely nothing.  If that were not enough, it ended on such an odd note that I had to flip backward through the book to ensure that I hadn't missed anything.  Character development seems to about having Jessica pull a fancy new magical power out of her ass whenever she feels threatened and having her entourage swear loyalty to her.

At this point It would be fair to say that Jessica is a typical Mary Sue.  Everyone around her loves her without question and is absolutely devoted to her.  We are told repeatedly how special Jessica is and that if she dies, the supernatural world will simply fall to pieces. At this point I would rather see Carlson's world fall apart than to read anymore of this story. Pure Blooded made me want to scream, "I get it, Jessica's the super special werewolf." Beyond her ability to pull magical abilities out of her ass, I'm not even sure why everyone is so damn devoted to her.

For the first part of Pure Blooded Jessica had to do battle with a bokor who was being ridden by loa. As it turns out, the creator of the werewolves wanted the power that she invested into Jessica's wolf. After some running and dodging along with advise from a wise person of colour, Jessica emerged victorious.  Jessica's next challenge was a necromancer who she defeated by simply following her heart.  Apparently, brains and logic can't keep one safe but the mystical gut is all knowing.  Yes, I'm snarking.  To me it just sounds like an excuse for the fact that Jessica does not read as intelligent. Jessica is impatient and rushes in headlong with her team barely holding on.  In Pure Blooded, she is even spoon fed information and then gripes about it not being detailed enough. Sure, Jessica is a young immortal and that works as an excuse for awhile but I'm simply tired of her ignorance and the fact that she never sits down long enough to learn about the world she is supposed to change so drastically.  In fact, when Jessica is informed about counsel protocol is supposed to work, she casually brushes it aside.

Jessica's neighbour Juanita makes an appearance in Pure Blooded as a Hag who has decided to spend her life protecting the super special Jessica. We see Juanita only briefly in person and for the rest of the novel she communicates in cryptic texts to guide Jessica or warn her about approaching trouble. Juanita is the absolute essence of the magical person of colour; she exists like every character in this book to champion Jessica and alternately hand out timely advice.  Juanita is the only character of colour to make a semi regular appearance in this series and so far, and her characterisation is decidedly lacking.

It's irritating that Carlson can mine cultures of colour for woo woo but cannot be arsed to develop any real characters.  In this novel alone, she mentioned voodoo and wendigo (yep, there's always a wendigo isn't there?) and could only turn Juanita into a helpful token.

There are no GLBT characters in this series to date and while this isn't abnormal for this genre, it's still pretty problematic.  Carlson has included multiple super natural creatures in this series but somehow hasn't gotten around to mentioning a single LGBT person.  Is there some supernatural reason why even one of the multiple side characters in this series cannot be LGBT?  It's ridiculous.

Carlson couldn't be arsed to give this series any real marginalized characters of note but sure found time to squeeze in awkward sexy times for Jessica and Rourke.  They constantly have to touch each other and talk about what they are going to do to each other.  You would think that when one is on the run for ones life, sexy times would take a backseat. At times it made me wonder if Carlson wouldn't be better off writing a Paranormal Romance series?

Speaking of Rourke, I'm starting to find him irritating.  When he was first introduced as a dark grouchy stranger who was hired to protect Jessica, he was interesting. All Rourke seems to do these days is whine about keeping Jessica safe, and his fear of losing her.  When not doing the aforementioned, Rourke stalks around roaring (yeah I know he's a cat but he needs to give that a rest now).  Rourke is beginning to verge on becoming another Adam Hauptman and I find that I like his character less and less with each book.

There really isn't much to recommend Pure Blooded.  It ended on an awkward cliff hanger which is absolutely designed to draw the reader in for the next book but the problem is that I don't care enough about these characters for this cheap device to work.  Even though this series started with the typical female werewolf trope, it really had potential at the beginning. At this point, I feel as though Carlson has squandered all of the initial good faith she built over the first two books with Pure Blooded. It's time for these characters to really develop and not just pull magical tricks out of their ass at the most convenient moment.  Yes, Jessica has plot immunity but that is no excuse for the fact that she hasn't grown in the least bit in five damn books. At this point, the Jessica McClain series is all formula and no passion or growth.