Sunday, September 4, 2011
Bastard Reaction: Afterlight by Elle Jasper
I wasn't sure if I wanted to write this reaction, particularly since I don't enjoying shitting on people and messing with someone's livelihood. But on the other hand, I've always been about informing consumers, thus helping them choose how to spend their money wiser. Which leads me to this über-negative reaction to my read of Afterlight by Elle Jasper, first book in the The Dark Ink Chronicles series. This is not something you'll see frequently from me, so enjoy it while it lasts. It'll contain a bit of spoilers, nothing big, but I don't think you guys will care. And I'll apologize right now by how crappy this "review" actually is, but not worth the trouble to do better I think. Before you go further, consider that this is a review aimed for strictly Urban Fantasy readers, if you read and like PNR, this will not be of much help to you I think.
Afterlight, to me, is representative of everything that I dislike in Urban Fantasy. Might even say, to some extent, representative of what's wrong with the genre. Some won't agree with this assertion, but I really feel like I was conned by the person who decided to market this book as member of Urban Fantasy; unless having 90% erotica, romance, and graphic sex scenes is representative of such a genre. Add to that an investigative plot which ends up being dumbfounding and pretty much pointless, and it has become the first and only book that I've really regretted buying and reading. It's situations like this one which hold backs many readers from trying more Urban Fantasy books because they don't care to stumble into books like this one. Which is a shame for both the mindset and the books that allow it to fester.
When I finished reading the book it was quite apparent that this could be considered the porn version of Twilight. To add to that insinuation, going around reading the different reaction of those that have read Afterlight have noticed similarities between the this book and the Twilight series, some even quoting passages. But I don't care about that. One could say then that Afterlight might just be someone's Twilight wet dream come true. Even the titles are somewhat similar.
Before I'm misunderstood, let me just say that I don't like abundance of erotica, romance, and graphic sex scenes in my Urban Fantasy reading, and trust me I've tried. That's not to say that I don't understand it's place in it, or that I automatically dismiss books that contain such elements, else I wouldn't have bothered reading this book to its entirety, but I believe there has to be a balance and a relevance to it, particularly when a book is littered with it. I can handle it when the book is worth it, and I don't judge a book simply because it contains them. I've read plenty of books in Urban Fantasy that are heavy on those aspects and have thoroughly enjoyed the books, so just know it is not a deciding factor, but won't lie, it is a factor that it influences.
Those issues aside, I just didn't see anything worthwhile here. If you're not one of those readers who closes one's eyes and day dreams about the pulchritudinous alpha male with his banana hammock in full splendor jogging on the beach, then this is not a book for you. Else, you might actually like the book, and maybe even like it a lot. If you go to some review sites, you'll see an abundance of positive reviews. But I very much doubt any of those are from people who are strictly Urban Fantasy readers, who read the genre because of great characters, mystery, suspense, plot, and action (where applicable).
Speaking of plot, what the heck just happen with it in Afterlight? Plot consists of main female character talking about how bad-ass she is, how awful her life has been up to this point, all the awful shit she did to herself when she was young, how moist she would get on the thought of getting high on drugs. Then someone close to her gets infected with Vampirism, she meets the hot alpha male, she has recurring sexual dreams, she gets horny, notices the dude going from supple to full on erection, same room masturbation time, fucks the dude a couple of times, she has some more sexual dreams, fucks the dude a couple of more times.
Between all of this, the investigation consisted of she doing tattoos to her customers by day because it wasn't urgent enough to find the infected loved one, then by night going to some underground clubs she used to go to, filled with skulduggery, talk once more about how awesome she is while describing how she had underage sex with a sick mofo and was raped pretty much just so she could get her fix, talks about how many people are grabbing her ass in the club, then someone attempts to rape her. We learn nothing worthwhile; she has some more sex with alpha dude. Rinse and repeat the same investigation tactic one more night, and get her ass kicked by some of the infected kiddies. Then by the end of it, nothing of the investigation mattered because the location just presents itself (not that the investigation was any good in the first place). We have about 15 pages left, we do a summary of a crappy training, in which it becomes quite obvious that the protagonist is pretty much all talk and not as tough as she think she is, final battle comes along, 3 pages or so into it she gets knocked out. Then she wakes up and all is good and pretty much as resolved as it could be. Awesome. Actually, quite awesome indeed since it might just be the best part of the book.
If you're a strictly Urban Fantasy reader, then heed my words and stay away from Afterlight. If you are a reader that enjoys paranormal romance and those kinds of elements, then best move on to someone else's review because this won't be of any help to you. I say once more, got no problem with paranormal romance or it's readers, but I just hate getting conned into reading these types of books because people don't bother to differentiate between the two. It's becoming harder and harder to find what you actually want when reactions to books in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance are mirroring each other.
If the argument is that this doesn't fit the Paranormal Romance mold, then we better find another sub-genre for these types of books because marketing them as Urban Fantasy is not doing anyone any favors.
For Twilight fans, well mixed reactions all around. So 50/50 chances of you liking this book.
And say what you want about the book cover, I actually liked it. Viva tramp stamps (though she actually has an awesome dragon tattoo in the back, and she let us know about 10 times in the story) and Truffula Trees!