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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.

Bad Blood (Latter Day Olympians, #1)

Bad Blood  - Lucienne Diver

We are defined by the company we keep.

This being particularly true for book characters. And when the secondary characters, the love interests, etc., are bland, not even a crisp, funny voice nor a snarky, clever antagonist can save a novel.

I wanted to like this. The first few pages are full of sparkle, lit up by Tori's, the protagonist's, sharp, observational humor. Consequently, my inability to connect with the story, to dig in and read for more than a few pages, was baffling.

My conclusion? Tori Karacis, former circus performer-turned PI, is a likable protagonist, especially for urban fantasy. She's estranged from her family, but without the angst or bitterness that typifies UF heroines. Her characterization lacks consistency because it's never clear (to me, anyway) whether or not, at the beginning of the story, she believes in Greek gods and other magical beasties in the pantheon. Consequently, there wasn't much curve in her character arc. Nevertheless, Tori is one of the better UF protagonists.

Urban fantasy, especially when structured like Bad Blood, is basically mystery dressed up with magic. And the strength of a good mystery novel is the setting and secondary characters. This is where Bad Blood fails. There's a flatness to everyone else in the story. No one has distinguishing characteristics, beyond the stereotypical, that is. For instance, Tori's assistant, Jesus, is the bitchy, style-conscious, gay guy. Her best friend is the bubbly, extroverted, blond, actress type (because this is Los Angeles). All the cops are grumpy, law-bots. Even gods lack color. Hermes the trickster, is tricksy in name only (disappointing, because I love me some sly characters).

The worst offenders are the two points in the love triangle--Apollo (yes, that Apollo), and Armani (yes, that's his name), the cop. The descriptions of the two are as follows: Apollo is gorgeous (well, duh) and currently moonlighting as an actor. His god power is the ability to turn any woman (willing or otherwise) into a puddle of estrogen. And he's...blond. (<=Where "blond" is spoken in Wicked's Elphaba's voice.)

Armani is a hard-nose detective type. I think he's a brunette; tall, dark and handsome, blah-blah-blah. He spends a lot of time scowling at Tori, which is supposed to be sexy, but mostly it's just stoopid. Did I mention he's tall, dark and handsome?

Right. It's like that. Not much more than the barest of character sketches. As usual, neither man is burdened with actual wit, intelligence or charm. Just big and musclebound. Sigh. Gone are the days when a generic description of male hotness would get me correspondingly hot. Now, it's show me the hot; don't tell.

And Apollo, with his sexy-mojo, borders on rapey. I know it's not meant that way, but Tori doesn't seem all that interested in him, but because of his god magnetism, she finds herself wanting to make like carpet and shag him in every room. Look at it this way. What if, instead of being tall, blond and god-gorgeous, Apollo was four feet tall, warty, toadlike, and with a sagging beer belly. Would his ability to compel Tori into the nekkid mambo be acceptable then? No. So...creepy.

The issues with the novel are probably more glaring because it has so much potential. Maybe if the story's voice was as toneless as the characterization, my apathy toward Armani and Apollo wouldn't have mattered as much. I would certainly have DNFed this straight away.

Despite the high stakes conclusion--a battle to keep Los Angeles from sliding off into the sea--Bad Blood was too easy to put down. (Read at least three other books while attempting this one.) Only finished because I was compelled by the power of "I paid money for this."