Recently released, Hit List is Laurell K Hamilton’s 20th novel in her Anita Blake series, following the life and many loves of Anita - a necromancer, vampire hunter, and police marshal, amongst others.
This time she’s treading the line between working for the police and trying to keep them away from whoever or whatever is slicing apart lone weretigers. The Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire, had her body destroyed but not the spirit, and has been after Anita’s body and many powers for the past year. It becomes increasingly likely that these killings are to lure Anita away from the protection of her various bonded lovers, and the Harlequin, the Mother’s henchmen, are faster than any lycanthrope Anita has faced before.
Overall, I would say that Hit List is alright if you want a trashy read with various monsters, bloods, guts and action, and setting it in a slightly-alternate modern day setting where there are issues of human rights regarding people infected with lycanthropy in various forms and vampirism works well. However, I think there are quite a number of flaws, which means that unfortunately I just can’t get that excited about this book, or the series in general.
First of all is a problem that I also picked up on in my review of one of Hamilton’s other series of books, the Merry Gentry novels. The action’s in flow, we’re gearing up to go and hunt some bad guys, and then it just screeches to a halt whilst a row of men that Anita’s brought in from home to help out are all described in minute detail, from their build to their hair, and how Anita softly gazes at one, gives a special smile to another, has a recap about another who she once slept with but he’s married so they haven’t done it again, and it goes on and on. Later on, she’s giving a rousing speech to an injured colleague about getting up and fighting back, we’re ready to go, and then we just land back in the quicksand again where all the hot men are suddenly being chatted up by nurses, and Anita and one of her lovers have another look, which instigates a long dialogue about how he can flirt with other women, but one look with her and it means so much more. Why is this all necessary? These are characters from previous books, why do we need another long description about what each of their hairstyles are like and how hard they hit the gym? They sound less like a crack force of supernatural hunters and more like a male model catalogue.
Second are the repeated mentions of how short Anita is, how cute she is, how much of a short, cute girl she is, but also how bad ass she is, how fast she is, how successful she is in killing things. This is the 20th book, characters that she’s met before are still bringing this up, along with everybody else in the book. I get the gist, she’s short but she can kill things, I don’t see why this point is laboured. Another laboured point is her sleeping with lots of different men and how much other men seem to have an issue with this. She’s a police marshal doing her job, why is her private life such public knowledge and of such interest? Why does her sleeping around anger her superior so much that it drives him to try and get her removed from the case? That he doesn’t fancy her but he doesn’t like being the only one not getting any from her is a bit thin. This obsession with Anita having sex and who she’s having sex just overshadows the plot, with every twinge she has being documented, which is ironic given that Anita spends so much of her time telling everybody she comes across that it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference how many people she spends her leisure time with.
It’s all about Anita basically, the plot of trying to find out who killed several people is just a bit of background giving her something to do whilst she orchestrates her romantic encounters, and shows off how awesome she is. There’s no flaw, which means she gets to become a pretty tiresome character. She’s super in every way, she can raise the dead, she’s bonded to a vampire and can use his energy to heal faster but doesn’t need to drink blood or stay indoors all day, she’s bonded to all sorts of weretigers, wolves and leopards so she has their strength and night vision, but she doesn’t shift shape, anything that comes near her gets caught up in her powers. Where’s the humanity? How can I relate to this character? She’s a strong leading woman, I should be impressed, but she’s frankly just a bit boring. The plot needs more work, there needs to be more tension and far fewer people bawling about whether somebody’s her lover or not because that’s irrelevant as far as me the reader is concerned. There are so many of these pretty boy booty calls that they just merge and I’m not that bothered if they die or not. They don’t have characters, and end up just being soppy piles of mush with kitten grey eyes and faces full of awe because Anita has deigned to touch them. Also, where are the other female characters? I suppose you don’t want all of the male attention being taken away from Anita. The female marshal who gets a couple of lines is quickly stabbed and put in hospital so she’s out the way for the rest of the book until Anita can come back and give her a pep talk, and then she vanishes because Anita’s kidnapped and the rest of the action takes place elsewhere. I don’t see why there couldn’t be other main female characters to give a better balance. Also, calling Caucasian characters ‘whitebread’ is just a bit strange.
As you can tell, I was getting pretty fed up with this by the end, so to sum up it was okay, but more work needs to be done to create a stronger, faster moving plot.
Review by Cat Fitzpatrick
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