Friday, September 23, 2011
Dhampir by Barb and J.C. Hendee
This was Kayla's pick for our book of the month selection in August, 2011. She's been trying to get me to read this series forever, and she finally had me over a barrel. I tried to start reading it about a year ago, but I didn't get more than about two chapters in. I think there are a couple of reasons for that and they ARE NOT because this is a bad book. It's not. I found it pretty average fair. I will likely read the rest of the series at some point, but I won't be escalating it on my priority list so who knows when that will be. The list is pretty long. Since I'm on the topic of book club, let me just do a roll call of sorts.
Sharon (my mom, not my wife) had read this one already, but agreed to re-read it since Kayla really wanted to make this her selection. Ultimately, I don't believe she got around to it, but she did read Thief of Lives (Dhampir #2) and she had already read Sister of the Dead (Dhampir #3). There's a story here, but it basically boils down to the fact that she accidentally picked up the books out of order a while back. She loves these books and intends to finish out the series, but she was somewhat withdrawn from the discussion for fear of spoiling the remaining books for the rest of us.
Kayla, of course thinks these are the greatest things since sliced bread. I love her dearly, so I won't hold it against her (just kidding, Boo, this one was pretty okay and I trust you when you say they get even better).
Christine also enjoyed the book but she too found it pretty average, giving it three stars. I intended to get ratings from all of them, but somehow I got distracted and she was the only one I got. I apparently hit the page button two fast at one point while I was reading Dhampir, and wouldn't you know that the portion I missed became relevant to my evaluation of the book. When I brought up my issue, Christine remembered the necessary information and was able to locate it for me.
Alas, in the crush of beginning the fall semester at Nicholls, moving into the dorm, and working, Courtney didn't finish the book and elected not to stay for the meeting. We all love you anyway Sweet heart, and will overlook your transgression, just this once. I know you've already finished reading September's selection ;)
I should have taken better notes at the meeting, because I can't, for the life of me remember what Brandi thought of this book. I don't think any of us actively disliked it, but I don't recall her singing it's praises either. Sorry, Sis, I'm getting old and senile and my memory isn't nearly as good as it should be. I do remember that you weren't a big fan of Magiere in the beginning of the book, but I can't remember if she grew enough for you to like her or not. Now, Perks of Being a Wallflower? I remember EXACTLY where you stand on that book.
Sam, my brother-in-law (Brandi's husband) and new club member, loved the book. In fact, after reading it, he went out and bought the rest of the series and was a fair way through it by the time we held the meeting. Like, Sharon, he was cautious about contributing do to the spoiler factor, but he raised an excellent point about denial and human nature with regard to a criticism I had. Honestly, the remark was so insightful that I have reevaluated that particular point and have come to the conclusion that he's right.
Okay! So on with my review. Please note that unless otherwise indicated, the opinions I will express from this point forward are mine and might not be shared by the rest of the members of our book club.
As I've already stated, I had difficulty getting into Dhampir, which is a bit odd because it could easily be categorized as Urban Fantasy. The thing is, it has more of a high fantasy feel with it's feudal society and focus on medieval weaponry. I've also become accustomed to books written in the first person, which I prefer, and this one is not.
To a lesser degree, I think who the characters are at the beginning of the book (as opposed to who they evolve into) also kept me from completely committing at first. I tend to be pretty patient when it comes to character development, so I really don't think this played a major role, BUT the protagonists ARE difficult to like at first. I believe this was intentional on the part of the writers as it allows for a broader growth over the course of the book.
This book is written by a husband and wife team. Unlike, Ilona Andrews, however, I don't think they manage a seamless amalgam. Rather than character growth, portions of the book made me feel like I was reading about completely different people than at other times. They were both teachers possibly both professors (Barb definitely was. English, go figure;) and I think this shows in their writing. It felt somewhat stiff to me. I'll acknowledge, however, that this COULD be due to the fact that I've been reading so much first person narrative lately.
The writers' also made an interesting choice with regard to the antagonists. All (and there are several of them) were given a detailed back story that made them fairly sympathetic. I can't really decide if this was a good or a bad move. Going about it this way gave the bad guys a depth of character that is rarely developed in books these days. At the same time, it made me want a better solution than the one that it is (predictably) implemented.
Finally, the writers intended this to be the first in a series of books (the remainder of which have long since published) so, obviously there are alot of questions that go unanswered. Some people, might call the very end a cliff hanger, although I wouldn't. It definitely announces that another book will follow, but it doesn't leave you in any real suspense. Overall, this is a very descent book and I do recommend it.
Posted by Chris at 11:40 AM