Sunday, October 12, 2008

ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY - Piling on the Problems

Jennifer Rardin's strength as an author appears to be piling problem after problem onto her characters. She also has a knack for metaphors and imagery, such as:

"No," he said quietly, his eyes on the wall, as if someone had projected some horrifying memories there.
The magic snapped past me, leaving me mentally singed, as if I'd stood too close to a burning soul.
Jaz is an easy character to like. As I said in my previous post, she's something of a headcase, so much so that I wonder if she shouldn't go for a psych eval. She has a tendency to think of things that make her giggle at highly inappropriate moments. For example, when told about demons that eat souls, she has a mental picture of a waiter asking a demon how well his soul tasted, as if he were at a soul resturant.

All her family baggage--and there's a lot of it--has places in the pile of Jasmine's problems. Plus, Vayl has decided to bestow a gift upon her--a gift that makes them as close as man and wife, and that makes his "late" wife--who made him a vampire (not giving awything away here since it's in the blurb)--insanely jealous.

(Which brings up an interesting problem. When you pledge 'til death do you part, what happens to that vow once you're both undead? I guess technically you have died, so your vows are clear?)

In fact, their mission to save the nation almost seems like a backdrop against which they must solve their personal problems and resolve age-old conflicts. I have a few issues. Supporting characters tend to give Jaz valuable information with very little prompting and scant building of trust. There was even a "trust at first sight" moment that seemed out-of-character for Jaz. Four entire chapters went by while Jaz and Vayl were in their hotel room. And Jaz and Vayl tend to agree to not discuss things while the reader is screaming for those very things to be discussed. Argh! (But I suppose that isn't a bad thing, because it's kept me reading.)

There is an interesting mix of religion and the supernatural here. God is acknowledged to exist, so items such as holy water and crosses have the traditional effect upon vampires, even if the delivery method has been modernized in clever ways. However, there are also beings that are Cthulhuoid in their scale and power.

Although valuable clues, powers and equipment items tend to drop in Jaz's lap, I can't really call that a critique yet--it depends on what she is up against. I admit to having a fondness for characters who take on awesome foes while armed with nothing more than quick thinking and a toothpick. However, if she's up against a Cthulhu-scale monster, even I must admit that a toothpick would be of little use. So we'll see how that plays out.

The pace cranks--even during the hotel room chapters--and my interest has yet to sag. I think Jaz is an interesting enough character to support the series of books that she has already spawned. I breezed right by the halfway point and am now closing in on the final third of the book. I should be finished tonight or tomorrow.

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