Thursday, September 22, 2016

Blood Hungry (Blood Hunters #6) by Marie Treanor

John is in Amsterdam with a group of unofficial hunters to find out just why it is that a group of skinheads does nightly battle with the vampires.  Exhausted, John returns to his hotel room only to have the strangest dream about being in a grimy club and meeting a woman who intrigues and excites him.  For her part, Eva has always been in love with John.  As a friend of her parents, she grew up around him and he has always been her secret crush. When Eva sees him in a club looking so much younger than she is used to seeing him, she cannot resist the opportunity to flirt with him.  With all of the tension and power struggles in the vampire world, a relationship between John, a hunter and Eva the only vampire/human in existence, is a difficult if not impossible thing and when you toss in time travel, this relationship may just be more than either of them can handle.

From the moment of her birth, Eva was prophesied to be the savior in that she would bring vampires and humans together and usher in an end to the violence.  That's a lot of pressure to put on a child and Eva feels the weight of it, causing her to participate in petty rebellions.  While she loves her parents, there are times when she resents her vampire father and even revels in defying his authority.  Though Eva is twenty-one, by the end of Blood Hungry, she seems so much younger than that, almost like a girl playing dress up.  Yes, she's a fierce warrior but she recklessly enters situations in which she is outnumbered.

Then we have John.  He's all too familiar with baby Eva because she's the daughter of Elizabeth and Saloman the ancient vampire.  On the day of her birth, John selflessly risked his life to save hers. When he time travels to the future and finds himself attracted to a dark haired beauty, he simply cannot resist. Thoughts of her invade his every waking thought.  Eva however has the advantage of knowing right away who John is, having grown up around him.  When John learns that the woman he has come to care for in the future, is the child he is sworn to protect in the present, he's not quite sure how to handle it.  In the meantime, 40 year old John, (the John of the future) has his doubts about young Eva loving him as he is now and not the young John she fell in love with. Yes, it's as jumbled and confused as it sounds.

We have to pause here for a moment.  John is absolutely not attracted to baby Eva and does his best to avoid contact with her; however, from Eva's memories it's clear that he interacted with her a lot as a child, while in full awareness that he was engaging in an affair with an older version of her.  Treanor justifies this relationship using time travel as a device but it still feels far too much like grooming to me.

It feels very much as though John took advantage of Eva, despite Eva's clear independence.  All along the way his close relationship with her and her parents allowed him to spend time grooming her to be the woman he would one day take as a lover and partner.  It's telling that he only chose to pull away when he worried about her rejection of him because of his age, rather than conscious thought about how the age difference between them gave him all of the power in that relationship.  It's for this reason that I could not in any way invest in the romance between John and Eva and without that, there's nothing left to the book.

Treanor does bring back some of the characters that we have met in previous novels.  Essentially, they are there to do battle with the rogue vampires and don't really add much to Blood Hungry. It's like they are on a tour to remind the readers of their existence.  Nothing about them or their partnerships have changed and so they end up reading like filler. 

On a positive note, John is disabled and is the main male love interest. That's not something which occurs often in paranormal romance, so kudos to Treanor on that score.  John worries about rejection when his potential lovers realise that he is missing a limb, given that his girlfriend at the time he became disabled left him.  Unfortunately, John is also a typical card board cut out super crip.
South Park fight jimmy valmer timmy burch disabled

 Treanor uses woo woo to give him super strength and his prosthetic sure does come in handy when fighting vampires. Look, not all disabled people are weak and certainly many are highly capable but all of this could have been expressed without turning John into a supercrip.

For the first time, Treanor decided to address race in her series.  The skinheads who were doing battle with the vampires in the hope of being chosen to be bitten and turned were described repeatedly as racist, with the sole Black character expressing disgust about their racism. Unfortunately however Mina argued that skinheads aren't necessarily racist. Uh huh.They all just gather in their Nazi regalia to watch Mr. Rogers in the afternoon.  The determination that these skin heads are indeed racist never goes anywhere and it never becomes central to the plot.  It was the most shallow conversation that I've seen in a long time regarding race, making me wish that Treanor had never gone down that path to begin with. Treanor is clearly ill equipped to have a nuanced portrayal of racial dynamics. 

In terms of LGBT characters, Treanor mentioned one gay vampire and he never became anything more than a throw away name.  He was mentioned as a possible lover for Eva and then never mentioned again once his sexuality was confirmed.  For the record, this makes six books without an LGBT character.

I read Blood Hungry rather quickly because I approached it like ripping off a band aid. Sometimes it's just better to get it over with than to draw it out.  I cannot say that I enjoyed it and found the writing to be absolutely cliche. At times Blood Hungry is so overwritten and purple Barney would be jealous. The sex scenes might as well have been written by number. I guess I should be thankful that Treanor at least had the decency to have her characters shower after a night of sex.  I'm not sure how much further is left to go in this series but if this is an example, it will be underwhelming at best.