Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is a longtime favorite of mine, and an author I'd immediately recommend to anyone who is apprehensive about reading anything paranormal. I think she's a great writer, with a crisp style, strong characterization, and well moving plots. Her books have a nice blend of the supernatural, mystery and a dollop of romance. Unlike the other writers she's compared to, Armstrong shifts protagonists/narrators from book to book. The shifting point of view works well, as we get to know characters little by little, until they get their turn to speak.

I was apprehensive about an entire book from Jaime Vegas' point of view. Jaime is a necromancer, that is, she can see and speak with the dead, as well as raise and banish spirits. She seems kind of flaky and insecure and makes her living doing stage shows a la John Edward, putting grieving folks "in contact" with dead loved ones. I never warmed up to her all that much and didn't like her mooning over Jeremy. Jeremy Danvers is the Pack Alpha (top dog werewolf), and one of my favorite fictional boyfriends. He's a different kind of Alpha: reserved, quiet, and controlled, but kind. He's also kinda mysterious and delicious. I wasn't too sure she deserved him, and would've preferred seeing him with a different sort of woman. Like say, a suburban mom/librarian, with newly reddish brown hair and a predilection for cardigans and early nineties alternative rock. But C'est la Vie.

No Humans Involved turned out to be one of the strongest in this series (along with Bitten and Industrial Magic), in my opinion. It revolves around a television special that Jaime is to star in, along with two other mediums. Their mission: to raise the spirit of Marilyn Monroe. While trying to navigate the wacky world of Hollywood types, Jaime is also growing nervous about aging and what it means for her career (there's always someone younger and cuter just around the corner) and her talents (many necromancers end up insane). She's also excited and aprehensive about Jeremy's impending visit. Does it mean that he possibly returns her feelings and is willing to take their relationship to another level? Jaime soon discovers that much more disturbing things are afoot at the Brentwood house where the special is being filmed than manipulative directors and spotlight hungry spiritualists. With the help of Jeremy and others, Jaime has to find out what is causing the strange experiences she's having in the back garden.

I don't completely love Jaime now, but I found her dilemma interesting: a woman in her early forties who has been on stage her entire life, only now starting to wonder what she really wants out of life. Her sense of self worth is so deeply tied to her success as a performer (thanks to a bitch of a stage mother), Jaime is only now realizing that she has more to offer the world. She is kind of insecure, but also practical. She knows the ways of the world and how to use them to help herself (without hurting others). I did love seeing Jeremy from her point of view. We usually see him through the point of view of characters who see him as a father figure. His whole life has been shaped by an almost crushing amount of responsibility (for his father, Clay, Elena, the Pack), and he, is now starting to think about life apart from all those responsibilities. Jaime and Jeremy have a mature relationship. And pretty hot too. I want to see more of them. Love Jeremy. Love.

The mystery was good and creepy, with some unsavory villains. I also enjoyed the secondary characters. I like Eve and Kristof, and was glad to see them helping out. Hope and Karl were the high point of last year's Dates From Hell anthology. I liked seeing more of them. I believe Hope will be the next protagonist, and I can't wait. I love grey-area type characters and Karl definitely fits the bill. Hope does also but her leanings toward the dark side are beyond her control, the legacy of her Chaos demon father. Should be some interesting internal/external tension.

A- for you Kelley Armstrong. Minus is because I just don't love Jaime as much as others, and I missed Paige, Lucas, Elena and Clayton. If you've read others in this series, you will enjoy this, and if you haven't, go get one. Really. Now. Start with Bitten.

**Questions I am pondering--Should Apolo have beaten the Fat One? Was the last episode of Veronica Mars a stunning return to the series' noir roots or a disappointing attempt to do so, with little closure? How long will I be sad that both shows are gone? At least Dancing with the Stars will get another season and who knows, perhaps Enrico Colantoni will be a contestant.


Elaine said...

By the time KA had announced that Jaime would be one of the narrators, I was fairly fond of her, so I wasn't surprised I loved her book. What astonished me is that I ended enjoying the Eve book. I didn't think I could find her and Kristof to be at all sympathetic as a couple.

Jennie said...

Good point about us only really seeing Jeremy as a father figure up until this book. I hadn't really thought about it, but you're absolutely right. If I had one complaint about this book it was that we didn't get enough Jeremy time. :)

Devon said...

Elaine-Hi and welcome to the blog! I love Eve and Kristof. I like characters that are morally ambiguous, but can be genuinely selfless and love. They are both good parents and really love each other.

Jennie--More Jeremy is always good, IMO. I liked getting a glimpse of Jeremy the man.

nath said...

hey Devon :D

i agree with you, it was fun to see Jeremy other as a father figure :D Lover, hot lover :D sexy man LOL :D As for Jaime, I thought she was pretty interesting :D You have to consider that her powers are pretty limited and with consequences... so really interesting.