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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-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Tuesday Review Round-Up « Urban Fantasy Land
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 12:34:50

    […] Dear Author reviews One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.   […]

  2. Wendy
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 13:23:58

    I don’t like Cat, she annoys me to no end. The only reason I’m looking forward to reading this one is Bones, he’s fantastic and I feel sorry that he’s in love with that chick. I hate the decision she made at the end of Halfway, she acts all that tough but she really isn’t.

    Bones should be the main character, not Cat.

  3. Gail S
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 13:40:25

    I probably shouldn’t read vampire books at all, because I’m really not a big fan of vampires, but occasionally one will grab me. I read all of Halfway, but Cat annoyed me in that one, as did the fact that Bones seemed a thinly disguised version of Spike, from BTVS. I never did quite get her reasoning for her decision in that book. And if she hasn’t really grown emotionally in this book, I think she will annoy me even more. Thanks for the review. Think I’ll pass.

  4. Keishon
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 13:41:24

    I was thisclose to getting this book today but decided to wait. Would you read the next book in the series? Yeah, I think I want to try this. Maybe. I am neck deep in vampires these days (Sookie Stackhouse).

  5. katiebabs
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 13:59:08

    Aw shucks Jane! I loved this book. I lurve Cat and Bones. Oh well! :D

  6. Denise
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 14:55:38

    I almost bought this book based on the cool cover and back blurb. I may have to rethink this. Nothing worse than seeing an original character with promise transformed into a super Mary Sue.

  7. Jane
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 20:34:16

    I think that people either love Cat or don’t and the success of the book will rest on Cat’s likeability for the reader.

  8. Harry~DayDream
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 03:30:42

    I thought the first book to be quite captivating (heck I even reviewed in my review blog and hosted an interview with Jeaniene Frost) and well I thought the second installment to be just as good. I personally haven’t read it yet, but even though there seem to be flaws to it, some annoying ones (I still think Cat should just slap her mother and send her in a retirement home).

    My tastes in characters range and I have nothing against all powerful ones that seem to be larger than life, especially when it comes to kick ass fighting skills. However there is this one trait in Urban Fantasy books that annoys me. Each female or male character has to be stubborn to stupidity at times. I get it that their irrational decisions move the story, but sometimes trouble has to find them and not vice versa.

  9. jmc
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 08:29:01

    I think that people either love Cat or don't and the success of the book will rest on Cat's likeability for the reader.

    This is exactly the case for me. I did not care for her at all in the first book; reading your description of her in the second book does *not* make me want to rush out and buy a copy.

  10. Thea
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 11:09:30

    Hmmm, I just bought book 1 (on very shaky ground as it is), and now after reading your excellent review…I’m scared I won’t like this one at all. Sigh. At least now I’ll be going in to the book with a warned, wary mindset. Cat sounds incredibly annoying.

  11. A. Hashi
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 11:31:05

    Your review scares me now. I was hoping Book 2 would start right at the end of Book 1. It would be nice to see how Cat dealt with the transition of working alone, to working for the government.

  12. Kmont
    May 01, 2008 @ 12:27:10

    I’d actually begun to wonder if I was crazy for not liking the first one. I’m a firm believer in everyone’s different and all, but SO many people seem to love this series that I had begun to question my sanity. Hate that. *slaps self, but gently*

    My main problem with the first was Cat herself too. Irritation to no end with her. Her dialogue made me wince, it was dreadful. But I often don’t fully get into the first of a series, so thought, heck, I’ll give the second a try before I dismiss them all together.

    I have to say, and I think this is the first time ever for me, I am glad I read this review before buying the second. It has saved me some dollars. No offense to anyone that loves it or the author herself. I think Frost has AMAZING writing skills, but the main ingredient that I look for, the characters, were just too off for me. Due to the great writing though, I will be keeping an eye out for any future work from her.

  13. Shar
    May 06, 2008 @ 20:00:16

    I enjoyed the first book. I didn’t mind Cat as she seemed so messed up. Hell, halfway through the book it became obvious that she is pretty much a psychopath and enjoys it. Nothing wrong with that as long as she is going after the bad guys. I didn’t understand her reasoning for the seperation of her and B. The ending just seemed so off to me. But it could work considering how young she was presented as being and stupid.

    I was hoping that the sequel would continue right afterwards and show the transformation to work for the government ect. THAT would’ve been interesting. Maybe show Bones hunting for her. I was interested in buying this sequal right off, now I am putting it on my To-buy-list-when-I-don’t-have-something-else-I-want-more.

    Part of the attraction to the book is the fact that Bones is so similiar to Spike (without the annoyance of Buffy being there). Now that she is being revved up to super-killer, it will be like a quasi-buffy afterall. I liked the fact that she was LEARNING and not super-kick-butt. Now it is up to the conflict to be based on the criminals instead of the character’s personality. Disappointing. Thanks for posting the review. I’ll try Kresley Cole’s new one instead.

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