Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome To The Jungle

It's that time again kiddies. Time for Wendy to get her Homework Reading done. For the third year running, my library is hosting a literary event, and once again I planned and will be moderating the romance panel. I like to include a nice mix of sub genres, and this year's paranormal author is Chris Marie Green (who also writes for Harlequin under the name Crystal Green). I'm so unbelievably burnt out on paranormal anything right now that I think the last time I read one was this time last year. While Night Rising didn't rock my world, and it didn't cure me of my "paranormal burn out," it was still a decent read.

Stuntwoman Dawn Madison came home to Los Angeles for one reason: to find her missing father. While no one will ever accuse Frank of being Ward Cleaver, and Dawn was essentially estranged from him, he's still her father. However once she lands in L.A., she soon finds herself in a world she was completely ill-prepared for.

Frank was working for Limpet & Associates when he vanished. The firm consists of Breisi, a washed up Telenova actress and tech geek; Kiko, a psychic little person with big dreams of Hollywood stardom; and "The Voice," the mysterious never seen, but always heard boss behind the business. Frank was working with these people when he disappeared, and now Dawn hires on in hopes of finding him. Which means working the case that Frank was working - the reappearance of a child star who tragically died over 20 years ago. He's been caught on film, looking exactly as he did the day he died. Yep, he's "still" 12 years old.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the setting. Certainly a lot of celebrity crap passes for "news" these days (shit, just look at all the hub-bub about Jessica Simpson's weight). Certainly no one with a TV or Internet connection is immune from this "reporting." But sometimes I think it's even worse (if that's even humanly possible) in southern California. It's a breeding ground for narcissism. It's just wrong. And sad. And pretty pathetic. Green does a good job of tapping into this narcissism, and it actually fuels the world she has created.

I also liked Dawn. She is, at times, quite abrasive. But I enjoyed the stuntwoman angle, and I enjoyed that she didn't blindly accept that vampires and the paranormal exist, but she also didn't stupidly deny their existence when she begins to see proof with her own eyes. I also liked her baggage. Green gives her heroine a Hollywood superstar mother, who was beyond gorgeous, talented, and tragically murdered when Dawn was still an infant. Her mother's death not only continues to haunt Dawn, it also deeply effects her relationship with her father.


One of the big reasons I'm so burnt out on paranormals is that so many authors seem incapable of writing endings for their books. This continues to grate on me, since I'm a long time mystery reader. Mystery authors can tie up books and still make them part of series. Why do so many romance and urban fantasy authors have trouble with this? That being said, Green does give the reader some resolution to the not-so-dead child star angle, but there's a ton of other stuff left swinging in the breeze. Also there's the introduction of a Oh Gee Big Surprise Love Triangle! and I have the impression I already know exactly where a couple of these plot threads are heading and how they'll conclude.

But who knows? I've been wrong before, and I could be wrong again.

Green indicates on her web site that the Vampire Babylon series is meant to feature 3-book story arcs. Book four, the soon to be released A Drop Of Red, features the same characters, but they've moved on to another adventure.

Where does that leave me? I found this book to be OK. It didn't knock my socks off, but I kept flipping the pages, and I'll more than likely read the next two books in the series. Just as soon as I plow through my other current reading obligations. I would, however, strongly recommend this book to younger readers. I know me, but more importantly I know me from 10-15 years ago. I would have lapped this up with a spoon in my early twenties and turned into a slobbering fangirl. If you know a paranormal-lovin' college student? Yeah, she'll more than likely really dig this one.

Final Grade = B-

No comments: