I literally just finished reading the newest book from Laurell K. Hamilton named Affliction. It is the 22nd book in her long running Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series.
Before I begin let me just say that I am a huge LKH fan, and have always been so. She’s disappointed me–what author, artist, or musician hasn’t in some form or fashion?–a few times before and honestly there are quite a few books that I would have just left out entirely, but I stick by her because I like her writing style and sense of humor.
Needless to say when Affliction came out, marking the 20th year since Anita first hit the market, I was ecstatic! What better way to celebrate than by buying the newest book from the series? So I did, and immediately began reading.
Here is where it gets a bit spoiler happy, but I will try to avoid the major ones. If I can’t, they’ll be marked with a huge red SPOILER!!!
You have been warned. Turn back now.
The book begins with Anita sitting in her office, explaining to the reader how uncomfortable she is with her guns strapped to her body. She’s also giving us a bit of background as far as where she’s working and who she is. It’s a nice little game of catch up to those who might be coming along later in the game.
Her secretary bursts through the door and explains she has a call on her phone and it’s a woman who is incredibly upset. After some confusion, they realize it’s Micah’s mother, and she answers the phone in a panic.
The next few chapters are spent with her on the phone with Micah, then Jean-Claude, then Nathaniel, then Jean-Claude again, then Micah again. Alright, no big deal, she’s getting things in order and she’s stuck at her office. Makes sense to me.
And while all the talking on the phone is fine, one thing did irk me about the entire set up. You see, authors will do this nifty trick when they’re trying to help A). New readers who picked up late in the game and B). Old readers who may just need a quick reminder, by often times having the character reflect, or explain briefly in narration what a particular word means, or who a person is. Anita does this quite frequently throughout the books (which was a bit much at times), but there were moments when she was doing this in casual conversation. For example, she and Jean-Claude were on the phone, and he began explaining to her some of the politics behind her visit–even if it was just a standard visit to see Micah’s father in the hospital. In this conversation, he says something about Nimar-Ra and Nimar-Raj, and then begins explaining it to her as though she’s somehow forgotten what these words mean. Instead of saying “Oh Jean-Claude, shut up I know this already.” She carries on the conversation and proceeds to do the same to him. This is why I don’t like when authors explain things in dialogue like this, because it makes the characters sound stupid, or it’s just bad form. Keep the reflections and explanations out of the dialogue.
Then there is some turmoil at the airport. Jean-Claude does not accompany her, as it’s just a standard visit to see Micah’s father. Nathaniel tags along for emotional support because he is their partner.
Upon reaching the hospital, the cops start giving her hell because they think she’s going to move in on their case. After telling them over and over that she’s just visiting Micah’s family, they finally cut her a bit of slack and let her through. She goes up to the room where the doctor tells her his father has a disease from being bitten by a zombie, and it’s making him rot from the outside in.
But wait. Zombie bites aren’t contagious like that. Whaaaaat?
And just like that, Anita decides she’s going to take the case over after all.
It was fun, and exciting, a new disease that no one had heard about–not even Anita. It was nice to finally see her so clueless.
But most of the book was wordy, circle arguments and conversations as she tries to find herself and find answers.
Micah’s character changed quite a bit in this book, which I could sort of understand considering his father is in the hospital dying from a disease they don’t know how to cure. But some of it just seems very…..odd.
He’s throwing his relationship with Anita and Nathaniel in his family’s face, for example. This is not the attitude you have when you’ve been estranged from your family for ten years now. It’s just not.
He’s, apparently, been lying to Anita for quite some time, and she’s not happy about it. But her more grown up self eases through it to keep a major fight from breaking out.
We get to see a lot of old characters coming back round, some that she’d only seen or spoken to on the phone before. An old nemesis that didn’t get a lot of airtime comes back to play as well, so that was nice.
A very tragic event happens, and though Anita mourns him, she’s a bit inconsistent with it all. It’s hard to explain what I mean without revealing the spoiler, so I’ll just leave that for you to read and see for yourselves.
Edward pops back into the picture, and they team up again. Which was pretty awesome!
While I was reading, I was so excited. There was the fear, the anxiety, the wonder. I did not want to put the book down! I stayed up until 7 AM reading as much as I could because I just had to know what happened next.
And then the ending happened.
And I hate myself a little.
The beginning, as stated, was slow starting. Which was fine, with the exception of a few things here or there, it was completely understandable and believable.
The middle was drawn out a bit, but it only added to the thrill and excitement of getting to the end. It was like the biggest hype-man you can imagine.
I was getting ready to sign on to Amazon, without even finishing the book, and toss down a five star review because I was so excited! I’m glad I didn’t.
In the space of one chapter. One. Chapter. The book concludes. And it was a relatively small chapter at that. I might even say in the course of two paragraphs, it concludes.
The last chapter is wrapping up the loose ends that LKH forgot to cover in the book itself, and voila, the books is over.
So again. Slow beginning, GREAT MIDDLE, dropped off a cliff into the conclusion.
Is Laurell K. Hamilton just growing tired of writing Anita? I used to think that wasn’t possible but now that I stare at this book I’m starting to wonder.
There is a HUGE revelation in the book, though, but it does point to things rapidly coming to an end. Normally I would be disappointed, but honestly at this point I think it might be the best thing that could happen. I will still be sad to see it go.
What could have fixed this? It seems to me like LKH’s brain was just a little too scattered, and if she’d managed to keep notes in order and made conversations a bit more realistic, that would have been nice too.
There was minimal sex, so that was nice. But one of the sex scenes made me a bit uncomfortable.
As we all know, Nathaniel is a submissive but every once in a while he likes playing dominant. Anita plays bottom in this with Nathaniel and Nicky. It threads the line between what is acceptable, and what is not. It just seemed way too dangerous, and was a bad use of BDSM. I’m sure there are going to be quite a few people in the BDSM community that are going to be even more upset about this than I am. Other than that particular scene, the rest of the book is business as usual.
If Laurell K. Hamilton had just spread out the ending and made it a bit more involved, THAT would have been amazing too. This book had so much. SO MUCH potential!! If the ending matched the middle, I would have immediately posted a five star review, or tried for higher, because this would have been the greatest book in the series in my opinion. But because of the quick ending, I bumped it down to a four. I almost feel gracious doing that too, actually, which is a feeling I do not like.
Let’s just state here and now that old Anita is dead. She died the moment she took Jean-Claude to her…well….bathtub.
That being said, however, the series didn’t really start to suffer (in my opinion) until about book 10. I keep reading, keep reading, hoping that I can regain some faith in this series. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kiss the Dead (or whatever it’s called), as it began quickly, built up to the end, and then just suddenly dropped us off the cliff into a conclusion. Sound familiar?
So to wrap it all up, pros:
Very thrilling, very engaging.
A blast from the past in a lot of ways.
Did I mention minimal sex?
Big revelations that a lot of people have been waiting for, I think.
Lots of “air time” for a few older characters.
Brand new disease that no one has heard of.
Things seem a tad bit chaotic, like LKH didn’t quite have her notes on straight.
One of the sex scenes was a bit too on the dangerous side, and seemed badly executed (ha ha).
The ending was way too quick, as though LKH had grown bored of her own writing and needed a quick fix.
There is a lot of bad light cast down on a lot of the male characters, and that gets to be a bit much at times.
A lot of things weren’t very realistic.
Did I mention a quick ending?
I recommend the book, but I have to warn you to prepare yourself for the ending. Otherwise it is a good book.
I will probably continue to read and see this series through to the end. Laurell K. Hamilton is a great writer, and the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books are a great idea. I will continue to support this author, even if I don’t actually agree with a lot of what she has written, and I will watch this series end.