Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Dying Bites by D.D. Barant

Book Description

Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world—one in which only one percent of the population is human—is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day…

Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…

(Description from Goodreads)

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

Series: Bloodhound Files #1


Dying Bites has your standard urban fantasy helping of vampires and werewolves, but there's a unique twist. These creatures exist in a parallel universe where humans are in the minority. Jace Valchek is a (human) FBI profiler from our world who gets pulled into the alternate universe by their NSA. They need help tracking a human who's killing vampires and werewolves.

The alternate world that Jace is pulled into is pretty neat. It's a lot like our world but a step to the side. There are vampires and werewolves, and golems, the animated sand/clay of Jewish legend. I found the golems to be a refreshing addition because they're not seen often in stories. As mentioned previously, there are humans as well though considerably less of them than the other races. The history of this universe is explained to Jace (and the reader) as she acclimates to her new situation. I was really enjoying my tour of this world at Jace's shoulder until I thought about it a little more. That's when I noticed the logic problems.

As a reader of paranormal fantasy, I have no problems suspending disbelief to a point, but Dying Bites lacked the internal consistency that makes other urban fantasy worlds easier to swallow. The entire premise for bringing Jace to the other universe is flawed. Apparently, in that world, vampires and werewolves are immune to mental disorders so humans are the only ones who can be insane. I could buy this if vampires and werewolves were distinct races, but alternate universe humans can be turned into either one. So does the mind change so completely during the transformation that they're no longer like humans at all? I saw no evidence of that. In fact, the author seems to go to a lot of trouble to show that vampires and werewolves can be pretty "normal." So why is it that they can feel emotions and interact like humans but not be crazy? I don't get it. Not to mention, a werewolf does some weird stalkery things toward Jace but nobody thinks that's maybe a little nuts, especially Jace who's supposed to be an expert? And that's not the only sign of Jace's apparent lack of skill. It seemed to me like every conclusion that she drew was due more to detective work than to any special insight into the criminal mind. I was expecting decent psychiatric analysis, but instead I was told that the killer is insane. Well, duh. That's why you were brought to this world in the first place, Jace. This is not a character that I can respect.

Perhaps I would have like Jace more if I'd been able to understand why she acted the way she did. Unfortunately, this book is full of tell instead of show so I never really got a feel for her. For example, we're told that Jace likes Gretchen and that she's probably the closest to a friend that Jace has in this world, but there's no real evidence of that. The friendship isn't actually shown developing or existing. There are also several times where she notes that a man is attracted to her that left me scratching my head. Once again, there are no signs of this attraction other than Jace just telling us it's there. She doesn't even really elaborate on her own feelings/attractions. This disconnect leads to many of Jace's conclusions looking like stunning leaps of non-logic.

Overall, I liked the idea of an alternate universe with supernatural creatures but the logic holes and the distant heroine left me wanting.


Page of Swords

Has some good points that are unfortunately overwhelmed by bad points/flaws.
I will not be continuing with the series.

Disclosure: I purchased this book.

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