REVIEW: One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Dear Ms. Frost
I think this is one book where I wish I hadn’t read the first one because while some of the vampire world building was better explained in Halfway to the Grave, the heroine read so differently it was like she had a lobotomy. One Foot in the Grave takes place four years after the end of Halfway to the Grave. The heroine has left her lover, Bones, behind and is working with a secret government operation designed to take out vampires.
In Halfway to the Grave, Cat’s appeal is her vulnerability. She is half human and half vampire and through luck and determination finds out that she can kill vampires. Her greatest asset is her humanity. Her heart beats and thus she can disguise herself amongst vampires and unwittingly lure them to their deaths.
In the first book, Cat’s dialogue was very youthful. She’s traded in her charming "I hope you choke on my blood, you jerk" and "Kill me already, you pathetic suck-neck!" for vulgarity filled insults. It seemed like her character development consisted of coarser language and superior physical skill. Outwardly she has developed, but internally she still seems very immature.
In One Foot in the Grave, Cat has become a super ninja vampire killing machine. She can palm five knives in one hand and throw them with stunning accuracy while holding a small sword in the other. She can single handedly exterminate a group of vampires with no backup. She can outrun a master vampire and, in hand to hand combat, even centuries old vampires have nothing on her. Her humanity, her heartbeat, that was so vital to the story in Halfway goes virtually unmentioned. Cat doesn’t use that tool nor does she rely on it. Why should she? She’s obviously been transformed into superhero Cat and where she goes, vampire bodies litter the path behind her. She even has her own nickname within the vampire community — The Red Reaper. Bounty hunters are trying to kill her; family members and loved ones are being threatened; and her ex-lover has shown up to complicate things.
The book opens with Cat separated from Bones, a master vampire whom found Cat and trained her in Halfway to the Grave. Cat is lonely and decides to take up with the local vet, Noah. (As an aside, I don’t know if it was intentional or unfortunate that you have a character named Cat dating a veterinarian). The problem with this is that Noah is bland as milquetoast. I understand not setting up a triangle by having someone forcefully attractive like Bones but because of the insipidity of the Noah/Cat relationship it actually provided no suspense as to what would happen once Bones re-entered the picture. I didn’t believe for a minute that Cat wouldn’t simply toss Noah aside the minute Bones came back into Cat’s life.
The military ops that Cat runs (and I apply all those words loosely) are so bad as to be comical. I don’t think that Cat is supposed to play the part of Inspector Clouseau, the bumbling detective, because she’s portrayed as this kick ass super heroine. But her missions are run haphazardly with no planning and very little teamwork. Again, I guess it is not needed because Cat can take down any and all vampires on her own. She almost always goes in alone.
Even though she’s obviously superpowerful and has no need for her little government special ops team, she doesn’t have the balls to stand up to her handler and to find the love of her life. She can’t stand up to her abuser of a mother who is written as a shrill harpy (redundant?) who has no love for her daughter. I could not for the life of me understand Cat’s devotion to her mother. I wasn’t given enough information to make me sympathize with Cat’s decision.
She turned to me in a fit of wrath. “For God’s sake, Catherine! What is wrong with you? Did he put you under a spell again?”
That drew outright laughter from Bones. He uncoiled himself from the sofa with effortless grace, walking to her as she stepped back several paces.
“If anyone’s under a spell, Justina, it’s me. Your daughter put one on me five years ago, and I haven’t broken free of it yet. Oh, and you’ll be delighted to know, we’ve decided to resume our relationship. Don’t bother with congratulations-‘trust me, your expression is congratulations enough.”
I took a longer drink from the bottle. Bones had obviously decided against killing my mother with kindness and was going right for the throat instead. Typical vampire.
My mother’s tone was acid. “I thought you’d gotten over your whoring when you left him, Catherine, but it seems you only postponed it.”
Other reasonable issues were never really addressed. It took Bones almost four years to find Cat despite this being a modern world full of the internet and Cat being known as the Red Reaper within the vampire community. Plus, Cat had assumed a surname name that was the same as Bones’ surname. This made Bones look dumb. Additionally, there was Cat’s reason for leaving Bones and her continued excuse as to why they couldn’t belong together. Given that Cat was so powerful, I wasn’t sold on the conflict.
The saving grace of this book is Bones. He arrives on the scene at the end of Chapter 10. I’m a reader who likes strong women and I liked my books female centric but in this case, Cat irritates me to no end. Bones, though, is strong, sexy, and determined to get what he wants which is Cat. He’s willing to lie, manipulate, and barter to achieve his own personal gain. He’s sharp witted and pretty much dominates every page he is on. A scene without Bones is a wasted scene for me in this series. C-