Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'll stop the world and melt with you....

Warning spoilers ahead...

Disclaimer: Sherrilyn Kenyon is the author that got me back into reading romance and I am a big ol' fangirl of hers. I think she's got a great imagination, and I love the world she's created, with its roots in mythology and history. In addition, I saw her at Borders and I thought she seemed like a kind and gracious woman. And she really appreciates her fans.

However, that doesn't mean that I can't read her books critically. Her characters' quips and "wit" sometimes makes me cringe, she often repeats the same cliches over and over in describing her characters, and can sometimes be awfully light on character development,particularly of heroines. I really didn't like Sins of the Night. I felt SK was trying to give a lot more information about the Dark Hunter world at the expense of the romance, which was virtually nonexistent. The reviews for Amazon for Unleash the Night (henceforth known as UTN) were pretty bleh. So it actually took 3 days after it came out to get me into the bookstore, and I approached UTN with some trepidation.

Not without reason. About 35 pages into UTN, I decided some fanwanking was in order.
For those of you who don't know fanwanking is when the reader/viewer/fan fills in the blanks or otherwise makes something that's ridiculous or strange make sense. You know you've done it. Anyhow, this particular heroine is the daughter of a US Senator and so is surrounded by friends who are like nothing like anything I have seen outside of a John Hughes movie. Cardboard cutouts of preppy snobs. Complete with names like Blaine ("Is that a name or a major appliance"), Todd, and Whitney. They way they talked was out of control. I grew up in Preppyland, went to Super Expensive University with many New England preppies and children of senators, governors and Martin Scorsese and I've never heard anybody talk like this. Plus they're supposed to be in LAW SCHOOL, not high school, so one would think they'd be old enough have a bit of restraint. I found it so annoying that I decided that in order to enjoy this book, I would have to accept the fact that this scene was intended to be a homage to the teen movies of the eighties, and as such was tongue in cheek. I retained this mind set throughout the rest of the book, which was especially important when the evil Blaine returned and in scenes with blowhard Senator Dad, and even grumpy Mama Bear. It was fun too, to picture James Spader and Craig Sheffer or the Blond guy from Karate Kid as different characters (although Blaine should have been named Stef). And I felt especially rewarded when Wren and Maggie went back in time to 1981. Coincidence? You decide.

All in all, it was way better than Sins. Wren was a typical Kenyon hero: misunderstood, unloved, surly but secretly sweet and sexy and loving. Typically delicious, in other words. And Maggie, despite her poor taste in friends, was refreshingly practical and straightforward. Unlike, say, Andrew McCarthy in Pretty in Pink or Deborah Foreman in Valley Girl, she remained nonjudgmental and steadfast in her feelings for Wren. And I mean, really they weren't just facing the popular kids who wanted to keep them from being Prom King and Queen, but the wrath of the whole were-hunter population! Seriously though, the action moved and the romance was hot! Some reviewers complained that too many characters were introduced. I could see that but this was obviously the Were-Hunter exposition book, like Kiss of the Night was the Daimon exposition book. It was all right with me, I don't think it halted the story that much. I'm sure it is better if, like me, you know more of the back stories. Then again, I'll bet most of the readers do.

Something just occurred to me. Wasn't Nicolas Cage's character in Valley Girl named Ren? I really think I'm onto something here. UTN is a fun, fast read, but a lot more fun if you read it as a paranormal takeoff of all those good girl/misunderstood boy vs. the cruel world/cafeteria movies. Does such a thing as a tigard exist? Oh, who cares...he's hot. I'm off to check IMDB. If you've never read any Kenyon, going in order is best. Technically, the DH series begins with Fantasy Lover, which is a very skippable book, so feel free to begin with Night Pleasures. My personal favorites are Dance With the Devil and Seize the Night.

ETA: Ren was Kevin Bacon in "Footloose." Excellent teen angst.


Nicole said...

I bought Unleash the Night the day it came out and I read about one chapter, but now I can't read any more. The last book was just so incredibly disappointing that I'm not sure I can go on. And well...I'm just not feeling the love with Wren.

Oh...I actually went to high school with a Todd and a Whitney. Don't think there was a Blaine.