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

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
My Blood Approves - Amanda Hocking If I didn't have a case of the author fuzzy-wuzzies, I'd probably rate this two-stars. But I took my kindness pills, so three it is. (Goodreads really needs to allow fractional ratings--i.e., 2.5 stars.) But I digress....

This is my first exposure to a self-published book and I'm somewhat pleasantly surprised. Uh, no, it wasn't great and it could have benefited from some major contextual editing. But the prose is straightforward and readable. In some places the writing has a nice, snappy, intelligent tone. The overall quality of the writing, formatting, etc., wasn't much worse than some books from major publishers.

In fact, my main complaint with My Blood Approves is that it reads like every other Twilight-esque vampire novel. To be fair, I don't think the Twilight comparison is quite right. A better way to describe this kind of book might be "original Mary Sue fiction for vampire lovers." It feels like what happens after someone watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel, and instead of cranking out another fan fic in BuffyVerse, writes an original story where ... the writer, via her Mary Sue, gets to hang out with the gorgeous vampire. And I mean "hang out" as in spend absurd amounts of time doing absolutely nothing with said vampire and his family. Because, of course, his family loves her. The genre also requires that vampire boy spend the necessary amount of time denying that he and Mary Sue can have a happy ending because...he's dangerous. And all vampire heroes must be a part of the 1-percent, i.e. fabulously wealthy, because how else will they swoop in and rescue the heroine from her dreary life?

Now, in My Blood Approves's defense, it departs from formula in one way. First, Alice, the protagonist, isn't struck stupid in love with Jack the vampire. Much to Jack's amusement, Alice is the only human who doesn't start naming their future children the instant she meets him.

But there's a reason for Alice's ambivalence toward Jack. It turns out she is fated to be with Peter, Jack's vampire brother. In Peter's presence, Alice turns into a blithering moron. Peter, of course, sticks to the vampire script, insisting that he's a big bad blood sucker who can never love Alice. There's even a moment when Peter gives her the brush off, telling her she can't spend time with him or the rest of clan, and Alice essentially tries to kill herself.

Really? Is this the message young women really need? Not to sound like a crotchety old fart, but that ain't love. Real love is in no small part about respect. As with Twilight and A Discovery of Witches, the vampires in My Blood Approves spend a lot of time telling Alice what she should do. They withhold the truth and behave in a manner that is, frankly, parental. Parents love their children. But they don't respect them enough to trust their decision making skills. A reasonable, assumption, especially with young children. The problem is that healthy adult relationships don't work that way. Partners in an adult relationship trust each others' decision making skills. While I can't deny the appeal of a fabulously rich guy who falls head over heels in love with me and pays my bills, saving me from my suck-ass job, there's much more to love than a bank account.

I digress...back on topic...

Unlike, Twilight or A Discovery of Witches (Mary Sue-ism for adults), however, there is never any sense of danger in My Blood Approves. The story consists of Jack picking Alice up in his Lamborghini, driving to the mansion where he lives with his family, where Alice plays the part of favorite new toy to the the rest of the nostferatu clan. Lather, rinse, repeat. There is no dangerous "other" lurking in the shadows, eager to turn Alice into a paranormal happy meal. Peter gets a little rough; Jack almost bites Alice; but one of the family always arrives in time to stop Alice from getting more than a bruise. You couldn't find the plot if you had an electron microscope.

Which is where the problem with contextual editing comes in... This story could have been told in at least 20-30K less words. In my review of A Discovery of Witches, I noted that the narrative consisted largely of Diana making tea and sleeping. Similarly, the bulk of My Blood Approves consists of Alice going to Jack's house; something freaking her out; her returning home to her brother who cooks her a meal; she mopes; then goes back to Jack's house....

Nevertheless, I think you can see the promise of a good writer in My Blood Approves. I'm not sure I'll finish this series but I may try some of Hocking's later books.