I have an interesting relationship with Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. Well, I think it's interesting. You may well disagree.
I discovered the books two summers ago, I think, around the time Skin Trade came out in hardback. The cover caught my eye, and I almost bought it, but then I discovered that it was number sixteen in the series. So I spent the summer reading the series from the very beginning, Guilty Pleasures. I got really into them, and would order the next two as soon as I was halfway through one. I actually regret this now, since I paid for all of the books myself and am currently in rather dire financial circumstances. Had I been prepared to wait a little between each book, I'm sure my parents could have been persuaded to buy them for me. After all, what parent doesn't want to encourage their child to read more? (I should probably point out that I'm now 20, but I still think it's important for my parents to encourage me to read and, you know, keep buying me books)
I had a point. Oh, yes, Hit List. Before I talk about Hit List specifically, I want to say something about the series as a whole. I do like them, Jean-Claude is my favourite character and I was a little disappointed that he didn't get so much as a phone call in this book, but that's a personal matter. I've been worried for a few books now that there are too many sex scenes, and that the stories are being lost in a sea of endless sex. I'd gotten to the point where I actually said that if I didn't like Hit List, I wouldn't read another Anita Blake book. (Yes, I did actually say this, but I really don't think I meant it). Not that it matters, because the balance is much better this time.
My main issue before (I cannot stress the before part enough) I read Hit List, is that it was an Edward book. People who've read the books will know that they tend to fall into certain categories - vampire books, wereanimal books, and Edward books. Of course, most of them cross over, but there's always a strong theme. I don't like the Edward books. I don't know why, I quite like Edward as a character, and Olaf is fascinating (as psychopaths in literature always are), but I was disappointed that Hit List was going to be an Edward book. Almost as disappointed as I was when I received my copy of Flirt and discovered that it was more of a short story than a novel.
I really enjoyed Hit List. It is the first Edward book that I've enjoyed, and now that the balance between sex and everything else has been established, the series seems to be getting back on track. It's fast paced, exciting, and the ending wasn't what I expected. I actually read it twice, because I thought I'd missed something key. Anita is becoming a much more rounded character, as her good qualities grow in number and she accepts her flaws as a part of herself. There's nothing worse than a perfect heroine. Anita is a lot more likeable than Sookie Stackhouse, who lets the men in her life trample all over her half of the time, and in a way she could be seen as a good role model, (for adults, not kids!)
I honestly really enjoyed Hit List, I found it hard to put down (because the chapters are so short that you have to read at least ten in one go to feel close to satisfied) and it's great to see the series getting back on track. I think it benefitted from reducing the number of men hanging around Anita all the time, but I'd really like to see Jean-Claude in the next one. I'm pretty sure he's the only other character that's survived all twenty books (although please don't quote me on that), and he's certainly not one to just fade into the background. Bring on number 21!
(Oh, and the photo above is by me, Lesley Whyte)