Monday, 28 September 2009

Biting the Bullet by Jennifer Rardin

As I'm trying to make an effort to catch up on the series that I've been neglecting I thought I'd make a start with one of my favourites - the Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin. This is book #3 and finds Jaz and her vampire boss Vayl, undercover in Iran looking to take out a terrorist known as the Wizard. Vayl and Jaz are working with Jaz's brother Dave and his unit on this assignment, but unbeknownst to Dave there is a mole on his team feeding information back to the Wizard.

I love the excerpt used at the very front of the book, the one used to get browsing shoppers to buy.
"Watch out! Watch out! The dead are rising!"
Now if that doesn't get you to take a second look I don't know what will.

I have to admit that unlike the previous two books in the series I didn't settle into this one straight away. It took until page 17. :) Okay, maybe just before that on page 15, when Jaz makes this comment about her father.
...I want to thump our father over the head with a large blunt object. Like his ego.
Whether or not you love this series will depend on a large part on whether or not you love the protagonist. And Jaz can sometimes be a bit annoying, but what saves her (for me) is the fact that she has this incredibly snarky voice (inner and outer) and that if you're willing to understand her point of view (and make allowances for when you don't) it's one hell of a ride.

Of the three books I've read so far this is probably my least favourite. But that's not really a detrimental comment as such, just an observation. Though I do have some concerns. (And this somewhat ties into what's happening in Book 4 which I'm reading at the moment, but I'll mention that in the book 4 review) I'm hoping that Jaz isn't turning into one of those UF heroines that all the male characters want to get into the sack. She seems to be getting a little too invincible and everyone thinks she is amazing. At the moment what stops that from being completely annoying is that as the reader we have the luxury of seeing inside her head and knowing how insecure she is at times.

What does happen here is that along with the Wizard plotline, we have some previous plot threads tied up - we find out how Jaz's gun/crossbow came to be named. If this was mentioned in one of the previous books I don't remember it. Also, to some extent the situation over Vayl's sons is dealt with (he's waiting for them to be reincarnated and whenever there's a possibility they may have turned up his priorities become skewed.)

If this book had a theme it would be - Nothing is as it seems. Jaz has to hide the fact that she knows there's a mole from her brother, Vayl conceals the fact he is still searching for his sons from Jaz - putting the mission in danger. Jaz takes a trip to Hell and has to come to terms with some of the things she sees there, though ultimately that journey will save them all.

The banter between the characters is as good as ever. And this wouldn't be a Jaz and Vayl review if I didn't include a favourite snippet from them.
"Bub? Is that my new nickname?"
"I hate it," Vayl said decisively."Give me another."
I still say that Jennifer Rardin has one of the best grips on how to write a vampire character than most other authors.

This is one series I don't see me giving up any time soon.

(For Xena fans who've read the book - is it just me or on page 303 does Jaz start channeling Lucy Lawless from The Furies episode. One minute I was in Iran, the next moment I was in a Fury temple in Greece. Though I guess that's a question that only the author could answer.)

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