This is one of those books that ended up on my Amazon wishlist with me not quite being aware of it. But I am so glad I bought it! When it arrived with a Patricia Briggs quote on the cover, I thought hmmm, maybe I did know what I was doing.
Jaz is a female character who knows (relatively speaking) her own mind. She knows what her capabilities are and isn't afraid to stand up for herself, or for others. Written in first person point of view, this allows us to see that as well as a sarcastic outer voice, she has a sarcastic inner voice too. Which I love.
This is not a romance, though there is a strong chemistry between Jaz and Vayl, and their partnership is the central relationship of the story. In some ways it is like a marriage, their lives depend on one another, and they each have to know how the other thinks. I also have the feeling that their relationship will deepen over time. There is an emotional centre to the book, it's not all about killing things and saving the world.
Vayl is written extremely well. Unlike a lot of modern vampires, you believe he's been alive for nearly three centuries. There's a wonderful contrast between them - Jaz, so modern and now, Vayl a product of his long life and the experiences he's lived through. He has a delightful tendency to take Jaz literally ( a la Anya, my favourite Buffy character).
"If he's going to put some poor kid's face back on straight tonight I'll do the hula."I don't think since I reviewed Magic Bites have I wanted to quote so much dialogue and share how good I think it is.
"Lovely dance, that. The story is all in the hands. I did not know you knew-"
"Vayl, I was kidding."
It's not all quips and banter though. There is an edge of darkness that runs through the story. Jennifer Rardin has written one of the most brutal, horrific and real vampire attacks I can remember reading for quite a while. It's clear that they are voracious predators, and it's only an individual's personal integrity that prevents them from becoming a monster.
You're also aware whilst reading that something very bad and very significant has happened to Jaz in the not so distant past. She's missing parts of herself, she'll have flashes of memory or something will happen and she'll be remembering an incident from her childhood. This gives the first person point of view an added depth, taking us further into her experiences. Even when we initially find out what happened to her, it still isn't the whole story.
In places I did feel the pacing was a little off. Kind of like when you want to fast forward through a movie to get to the good stuff. But this definitely makes it into my top five books of the year.
We're left at the end with the battle won, but the war still being fought. Luckily book 2 is already available so I don't have to wait to find out what happens next.
Another One Bites the Dust - Bk 2
Biting the Bullet - Bk 3 - Feb 2008