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REVIEW: Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Insatiable by Meg CabotDear Ms. Cabot,

I’m not sure why I got a copy of your new book, “Insatiable” since I’m not the first DA reviewer who comes to mind when vampire books are being discussed but nonetheless it arrived in my mail and, since I hadn’t read any of your books in years, I found myself giving it a go. Yes, it’s about vampires but doesn’t feature a kick-ass heroine nor does it seem to have a ready made lineup of future heroes already set to go. It also doesn’t appear to be a standard UF either. And, despite a strong start, I did finish it with more than a few issues which keep me from a squee grade.

Meena Harris Harper has a gift/curse which allows her to look at a person and see when and how they’re going to die. After realizing that most people view her as a freak, she now just offers advice on how to avoid death rather than specifics when warning people such as the young woman she sees on the subway. She also tries to avoid her ultra-rich neighbor who is always trying to fix Meena up or commiserate with her about her unemployed brother Jon.

But somehow she finds herself roped into attending the dinner party the Antonescus are having for a cousin from Romania and then falling in love with Lucien Antonescu. He’s tall, dark, handsome and the first man in a while she hasn’t immediately known how he was going to die. All things Meena likes. Lucien returns Meena’s feelings and finds in her someone who stirs him for the first time in…well, centuries. That’s because Lucien is already dead and not just a vampire but the Prince. And Meena is about to get right in the middle of a vampire war set to rage across Manhattan and the secret human society dedicated to killing them.

The humor I remember from the historicals of yours I’ve read is here. Snappy dialogue, funny character characterization, cute dog – I enjoyed all of this. There are some things which make me wince such as the name of Alaric’s sword. Senor Sticky? And would a man of his taste really wear a Goofy watch? Another thing which works well is the relationship between Meena and her brother Jon. They argue like siblings, have that shorthand communication thing yet seem to care for each other and have each other’s backs. And that is about the only reason I didn’t lose it when Meena refuses to tell Alaric and Jon where Lucien is. But more on that later.

Thank you for giving a believable reason – well, once I’d accepted Meena’s “gift” – for Lucien’s interest and growing feelings for her. Meena isn’t just the standard heroine with whom all men instantly fall in love even though she’s described as average and sometimes a PITA. Her years long practice in hiding her thoughts renders her mind hard for Lucien to read and then when he gets a taste – literally – of her ability, she becomes someone who is different from any woman he’s known in his long history of knowing women.

I didn’t miss the irony of learning all about how vampires can bend people’s wills into allowing themselves to become essentially “feeding bags” and then having smart, independent Meena start to do the same thing. She makes the same excuses for Lucien that they all do and yet he is different from the standard selfish vampires who only want to exploit humans. He’s smart and has learned that blending means survival. And it’s lucky for Meena that she falls for the one vampire who can be trusted – as she learns when she learns she can’t trust them all.

Which sets up one of the issues I have with the story. When Meena’s talent becomes known and the other vampires decide to use her for this and against Lucien as well, what does she do but turn martyr for endangering her friends, rush off with only one weapon and no plan then decide to give up when she considers all lost. Then, in the midst of an all out battle, she still bleats on about some of these vampires possibly being redeemed and rehabilitated? Got to tell you I finished this section of the book less than thrilled with our girl. And after a lifetime of hiding her talent, I would think she’d be a little more interested in finally having a chance to put it to use for people who would appreciate it and her. She somewhat reinstates herself in my good graces because she did withhold information about Lucien’s whereabouts because she honestly thought she was protecting people dear to her and not just to protect Lucien and because she ultimately decides to join the Palatine Guard.

This is obviously the first book in a series yet I’m not sure I’ll be reading any further. Though Meena pulls herself back from the edge of utter twitdom and seems determined to use her powers for good, she still seems like she could slip up at any moment and Lucien appears determined to help her do just that. I also don’t buy into the sudden change in Alaric’s feelings and can’t say I’m too interested in any love triangles. I didn’t end up totally disliking the book but a C+ is about as good as it averages out for me.

~Jayne

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This is a hardcover published by HarperCollins, part of the Agency 5.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

18 Comments

  1. Terry MacFarland
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 14:02:23

    Hmmn, just the cover. Sweeping red dresses are really big right now. Pretty, but wonder why?

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  2. May
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 15:29:46

    Dear Jayne,
    THANK YOU. In the moment when she gives up because if he’s gone, life isn’t worth living I wanted to puke.
    I do love Meg Cabot’s humor, and her “boy” series were some of my very first grown-up romance books, so she’ll always have a soft spot with me. So even going in wanting to love this… I couldn’t. I just felt like this did not work. I know #2 comes out next summer and I just don’t think I could take any more. The love triangle is something I never like, and Meena… well she’s not a great heroine.
    I see her promoted as “kick ass like buffy/etc” and yet I saw a weak, feeble minded minion. Too harsh? Maybe, but I too gave it a C grade.

    Seriously though – can’t thank you enough for the affirmation that I’m not the only one who read it and didn’t love it.

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  3. Serena
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 15:31:57

    I’ve read every book of Meg and I’m probably going to read this one too sooner or later, but I have to say how she choose to promote it really turns me off. The promotion was basically “Twilight sucks! Edward and Bella are lame! Read my books where my heroine thinks vampires are lame!”
    And then according to this review, it’s exactly like Twilight (hero is attracted to heroine because he can’t read her, she loses her will to live when he’s gone, love triangle)?

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  4. meoskop
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 15:34:57

    I got this one to review as well – several of us seem to agree that it starts out one book (tough, independent heroine + spoof of genre) and finishes another (idiot heroine + completely traditional vampire book)I just can’t get over the change in Alaric from delusional nutcase to romantic lead.

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  5. DS
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 16:07:06

    Cover again: WHAT is she planning to do with that stake– and isn’t it being held in a rather suggestive way?

    Did her name get changed? The Amazon reviews all mention Meena Harper which sounds a lot like Mina Harker. And just last week we had a girl heroine named Quincie Morris after, no doubt Quincey P. Morris.

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  6. Jayne
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 17:28:08

    @DS: Oh, shit! No, it didn’t get changed. I just goofed.

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  7. Jayne
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 17:29:22

    @Terry MacFarland: It’s certainly not anything Meena was wearing in the book nor does she have a tattoo. But it is purty.

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  8. Jayne
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 17:32:38

    @Serena: Yes! It does start well and for a while, I thought I’d like it more. And even though I’ve never read any of the “Twilight” books, I caught the spoofing. Then….it all goes wrong. Is it possible to write a vampire book without ultimately resorting to the tried and true clichés?

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  9. Jayne
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 17:36:59

    @meoskop: When Alaric started changing I knew I was in trouble with the book. I liked him as a nutcase. I wanted him to stay that way and be a counter to all the “I ♥ vampires” stuff as he mentored Meena in the Palatine Guard. Guess not.

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  10. John
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 17:46:53

    @DS: The author of Tantalize freely admitted to her references in an author’s note after the book. Not one of its best points

    Jayne, Cabot is a hit or miss for me, and I don’t think I’ll pick this up. Vampires have to be really original for me now, and this sounds…disappointing. Maybe not as bad as her most dull novel, Avalon High, but still – not worth the time.

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  11. Jayne
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 17:50:11

    @May:

    In the moment when she gives up because if he's gone, life isn't worth living I wanted to puke.

    I was right along side you with my head over the toilet. I mean, WTF? What heroine is just going to go limp like that right during a battle for Manhattan and mankind? Even if Cabot is trying to tone down the “kick-ass heroine” trope I think she went right past it to “spineless idiot” before pulling back.

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  12. may
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 17:58:30

    @Jayne: Yes there is a ‘go sparkle’ comment that made me snort (obvious reference to Twilight) – the book had it’s moments

    *just don’t get me started on that freaking Meena character!*

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  13. Faithrichards
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 18:50:35

    I have read Meg Cabots work before but have yet to read this one. I believe I must headout to get it this week!
    I have bookmarked this post and will definitely be back soon.

    ReplyReply

  14. katiebabs
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 19:08:20

    Senior Sticky! LOL.

    I’ve been reading many mixed reviews about this book. But I’m a sucker for vampire stories, sparkles and all.

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  15. Bella F.
    Jun 14, 2010 @ 20:11:22

    @katiebabs- same here :)

    ReplyReply

  16. DS
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 16:44:11

    @John:

    @DS: The author of Tantalize freely admitted to her references in an author's note after the book. Not one of its best points

    I think naming characters after major characters in a well known work like Dracula is a mistake. While I remember really liking Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula Tape because of clever referencing of Dracula’s plot in a retelling from Dracula’s viewpoint, I don’t want and I assume the author doesn’t want the reader to be pulled out of the instant story and into Dracula everytime the name is mentioned.

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  17. Jess
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 08:21:34

    When I first saw the title, I thought: “yay, another Heather Wells book!” But then my hopes were dashed. I do love Meg Cabot, but unfortunately I’m totally vampired out at the moment, so I won’t be picking this up anytime soon. Perhaps when I recover, I’ll give it a shot.

    ReplyReply

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    […] @ Dear Author says, “This is obviously the first book in a series yet I’m not sure I’ll be reading any […]

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