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REVIEW: Necking by Chris Salvatore

Dear Ms. Salvatore,

book review I don’t think it’s unfair to say there are a lot of vampire books out there. Sometimes I feel like they should get their own category separate from paranormal books in general. But even so, I think your debut injected some light humor into a subgenre dominated by brooding, testosterone-laden men and butt-kicking, leather-clad women.

Gia Felice is a top publicist for a science fiction and fantasy publishing house. What sets this house apart, however, is that their authors embody the old saying, “Write what you know.” Aliens write alien books. Werewolves write werewolf books. And, of course, vampires write vampire books.

It’s the last group that’s the source of her troubles. Gia’s top client is a bestselling vampire author named Belladonna Nightshade whose long-running series about a vampire family has collected a legion of loyal, devoted fans. Gee, I wonder which real life author served as the inspiration for this character? Against Gia’s better judgment and the advice of her best friend (and werewolf client) Lola, she’s fallen in love with Bella’s manager, Johnny.

Gia’s life is further complicated by Bella. Bella wants her to use her paranormal connections to investigate a vampire named Daniel, who was the one who turned Bella and who Bella believes is responsible for killing the love of her unlife. This is all well and good, except Daniel is dangerous and likes to hunt down and destroy his fellow paranormal brethren for fun. And now he wants Gia because of those very same paranormal contacts that she’s using to track him down.

If I’m to be completely honest, I think this book fell on the side of too much slice of life, not enough cohesive external plot for me. Gia spent a good portion of the book angsting about Johnny and whether or not she should take the leap and become a vampire herself. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I thought Gia’s ultimate choice came about too quick, and that I didn’t completely buy the supposedly undying love between Gia and Johnny. Attraction, yes. Lust, yes. Love? Not completely sold.

That said, I did like the added complication of Johnny’s effect on her blood. I’ve read many vampire books but I don’t think I’ve encountered one where the vampire’s love is so strong that he causes the object of his affection to bleed uncontrollably. That definitely puts a damper on things. I could have done without the exchange about Gia’s period though. It completely fits within the context of a vampire’s bloodlust, but there are some lines I just do not want to cross and that’s one of them.

Some of the best scenes for me were Gia’s time spent in the office and doing her job. Your author bio says that you’ve worked as a publicist and I think that insider knowledge shows through the humor well here. I also liked the minor character of Dr. Laktarnik who, among many other things, is Lola’s elderly physician, a warlock, a dhampir, and a vampire hunter. I think I could have read an entire book about him all on his own.

While the cover copy suggests that the plotline involving Daniel is a major part of the book, I have to disagree. It’s there but it doesn’t provide most of the action. That comes from the relationship between Gia and Johnny. If anything, the Daniel plotline serves more of a large complication and roadblock to Gia’s HEA than anything else. In that sense, I was a little disappointed.

While this was a nice change of pace from the darker urban fantasies I usually read, I think it’s ultimately wasn’t the book for me. I like my books with more externally driven plot and fewer unconnected slice of life scenes. But for readers wanting some lighter fare, this just might be what they’re looking for. C+

~Jia

This book can be purchased in Trade Paperback from Amazon or Powells. No ebook format.

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

6 Comments

  1. Marsha
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 07:41:42

    You know, I have to say that I *have* always wondered about the whole period thing. Not that I want to read about it. Wait, maybe that’s not true. I’d probably wince and then think “Oh, so that makes sense” and feel glad (cringingly) that someone dared address it. Because I do wonder about Kresley Cole’s (just for one) heroines – do Valkyrie women have periods? Witches? Reanimated ghosty things? (We know they ovulate and have children, so it follows that they would, right?) And they’re married to these Vamps – eek! Is this o.k.? Fun? Just part of the delights of being paranormal? Do they have to do a whole Old Testament thing and go away somewhere for a week and then bathe and come back?

    So, yeah. I confess. I want to know and I don’t want to know. I might well read this book if for no other reason than to learn how one brave (to my mind) author addresses the issue.

  2. Jessica
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 08:00:11

    If I'm to be completely honest, I think this book fell on the side of too much slice of life, not enough cohesive external plot for me.

    This is such a helpful sentence to me. I’ve read a couple of contemporaries lately where I just got bored: there was a long discussion of the merits of contact lenses versus Lasik surgery in one, and in another, the heroine muses at length about all the things (like work and childcare) that kept her from boinking the hero this week. You’ve given me the words to express my discontent!

    I don't think it's unfair to say there are a lot of vampire books out there.

    And where’s the contest for diplomatic understatement of the year so I can enter this one?! But seriously, your point about a separate subgenre is very interesting — at what point in the growth of a subgenre does it become a genre?

  3. Jody W.
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 08:38:26

    This sounds worth a try. Kind of spoofy, kind of original. Thanks for providing both pros and cons!

  4. LizJ
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 15:00:21

    OK…vampire family, dedicated fans and the author’s name is Bella? I’m guessing the “inspiration” was Stephenie Meyer? Now that would be sort of a clever in-joke, considering that there’s likely at least a little bit of author wish-fulfillment in the development of the main character of Meyer’s Twilight series.

    I’m not going to touch the TOTM issue with a ten foot pole, but I’m sure most authors of books with vampires-who-reproduce don’t deal with it any more than Meyer dealt with how male vampires apparently still have one bodily fluid but not the rest.

  5. Jia
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 16:01:24

    OK…vampire family, dedicated fans and the author's name is Bella? I'm guessing the “inspiration” was Stephenie Meyer? Now that would be sort of a clever in-joke, considering that there's likely at least a little bit of author wish-fulfillment in the development of the main character of Meyer's Twilight series.

    There were several in-jokes littered throughout the book so this wouldn’t surprise me. While reading it, I thought that character was a cross between Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton.

  6. LizJ
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 08:28:34

    Oh, LOL, perhaps the author was taking elements from all three authors.

    I just don’t have the familiarity with the the other two to see the similarities based on the info on the review.

    I’ve read a few of Rice’s books, but way back in the past, and the only interviews I’ve read with her in recent years are focused on her Christ the King series. L K Hamilton…well, I read one book (mid series), hated it, ditched it and never looked back, especially as I heard more about the author’s personality online.

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