Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

I was looking over the reviews for Bloodfever at Amazon (primarily the negative ones, as usual) and a couple of things became quickly apparent.
  1. You are more likely to dislike this book if you are a PnR junkie and you love Karen for her Highlander series;
  2. It is more likely that you disliked this book if you read it before the rest of the series had been release, particularly if Faefever (Fever #3) had not been published yet.
The first two books in this series are the ONLY Karen Marie Moning books I've read thus far and I lean a little more to the Urban Fantasy side of the genre than the PnR side.  So with respect to #1 above, I had no prior expectations coming in (other than those foisted on me by those at GoodReads who had already read the entire series) and I don't NEED to have the romance (funny how so many spell it that way when they really mean to write S*E*X) to make the story worth my time.

With respect to #2, I have to admit that I might be a whole lot less forgiving of this series if I had started it back in 2007 when these two were the only ones published and no one knew how much better they would get (note that I'm taking it on faith that they get better as I have not even started Faefever yet). It's easy to be patient knowing that at any moment I can pick up the next book and see how things progress (or pick them all up and see how it ends).  Waiting at least a year between reads would have been a lot harder to take.

Given these two observations, I think Karen took a hell of a risk writing these books the way she did.  The big problem here is no different from what I mentioned in my review of Darkfever.  That is, the series is really a single book that has been broken into five parts.  Neither of the first two installments has made much of an attempt to be its own self contained story. Personally, I believe this is poor plotting and more than a bit manipulative. It's like the writer is holding the story ransome.  I completely sympathize with people who feel cheated when they finish reading one of these.  Especially if they read them back in 2007.

Despite this fact, I really liked Bloodfever.  I tend to give more 3 star rating than 4 star ones (except lately- having found GR, I tend to read more on recommendation than I used to which naturally means I'm more likely to read a quality book than when I was picking more or less at random), so the fact that I gave this one four stars naturally means that I found it above average.

As I stated above, this book is flawed, primarily because it's not... a book, that is.  It's a section of a book. Publishing it in this manner lends itself to the insertion of filler material so that there is enough in the section that we can call it a book.  There be spoilers here, but you don't need to look at them to understand what I'm saying... Karen includes a fair amount of material that does little to move the plot forward.

» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

Sounds like I'm griping, doesn't it. So why four stars? Two words: character development. Oh! and a third word: REALISM.

Please understand that what I'm about to laud as a strength, you may (as many others have) see as a weakness. The changes in Mac's character do not represent a smooth transition.  I've seen a bunch of complaints about it, believe me.  Some people hate that she continues to show spoiled, Barbie-like characteristics. Some hate that she continues to make some pretty bone headed mistakes.  Some dislike the fact that she continues to grieve the loss of her sister. They want her to be a high speed, low drag, kick-ass-who-needs-names, heroine with flawless instincts, and they want it NOW.

Thing is, that doesn't happen over night.  In life, real change is exceedingly difficult.  People rarely get it right on their first attempt. Let me suggest the most common and probably relatable one... Ever decided you were going to get fit?  Gonna tear yourself away from the books or the TV and start exercising?  Eat better?  Eat less?  How'd that work out for ya? The hard part was just making the decision to do it, right? Yeah, okay, whatever.

For me the brilliance in this series is the GRADUAL character development. Mac is coming along, and she's doing it in a very realistic way.  She has become more capable, but she makes mistakes.  She's become less naive, but still hasn't figured out whom she should trust and whom she shouldn't.  She's become more of a "do"er but she still complains from time to time.  She's become more practical, but necessary wardrobe choices are still an afront to her tastes.  In short, she's not there yet, and if you expect her to be by the end of this "book" you're in for a disappointment.

There's one more thing I'd like to address, as I saw quite a few complaints about it, but it's strictly story based.  No way to talk about it in the abstract.  If you haven't read the book, skip over it cuz there's nothing here for you.

» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

All-in-all, I like Bloodfever, despite it's flaws and really appreciate this method of character development for its realism.  I'm very much looking forward to the next one, but as I have been told that the next two books end on epic cliff hangers, I will not be starting Faefever until I know I'll have time to read Dreamfever and Shadowfever too.  I'm hoping that will be this month, but I have to knock out our book club selection, three remaining Book of the Month selections for GR and two selections for the Bi-monthly Theme contest first.  Here's hoping!



  1. Hi Chris. Ali here (from Goodreads). (BTW I do follow your blog but at work it doesn't let me post comments on blogs through my profile so I have to do it as 'name/url')

    Anyway, I too have read these upon recommendations from Goodreads folks and I was also worried about the 2 cliffhangers and whether I would immediatly need to read the following books. However, I think it ended up being a case of "too much hype" and so when the actual cliffhangers hit me they wern't that shocking and I could have easily read something else inbetween. I didn't. But that was just becuase I had planned to read all 5 in a row. But the point is I could have. So I wouldn't put aside Faefever just becuase you thought you would need the next one immediately because I didn't feel like that at all. Just my opinion.

    Anyway, great review!

  2. Great review... Because of your reviews I am really trying to consider how I view it differently knowing that the series continues to build. I will have to stop by your blogs more often!! Thanks for making me aware it was here.

  3. Thanx for the comments, Y'all! Nice to see you in a different setting.

    @Ali- Good to know about the cliff hanger situation, should make it easier to get them read.

    @JoJo- It means alot to get a comment like that. I think we all like to hear something we say or do has an impact on someone out there.