Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon

First published in 2006.

Susan Michaels was once the hottest reporter on the Beltway Beat until a major scandal ruined her life and left her writing stories about alien babies and Elvis sightings. Life as she once knew it was over, or so she thinks, but then she gets a lead on a story that could salvage her extinct career. She heads to the local animal shelter, expecting a hot news tips, which she gets in the form of a major police cover-up . . . for a ring of soul-sucking vampires out to take over Seattle. So much for saving her credibility.

And if that isn't bad enough, she gets talked into adopting a cat and finds she's allergic to it. A cat that turns out to be a shapeshifter who claims to be an immortal vampire slayer on the prowl for the same corrupt cops. Her first thought: seek professional help.

But as Susan's drawn into Ravyn's dark and dangero
us world, she comes to realize that there's a lot more at stake than just her defunct career. Now it's no longer a question of bringing the truth to her readers; it's a matter of saving their very lives and souls.

Ravyn's life was shattered over four hundred years ago, when he mistakenly trusted the wrong human with the truth of his existence. He lost his family, his honor and his life. Now, in order to save the people of Seattle, he's forced to confront the nightmare all over again, and to trust another woman with the secret that could destroy him.

In the world of Dark-Hunters, life is always dangerous. But never more so than now, when a very human woman can shatter their ent
ire world with just one story. The only question is . . . will she? (book flap blurb)

That blurb is an excellent indicator of just what this book is. Dead horse flogging and all.

First and foremost, I had no idea I was picking up a paranormal romance novel when I snagged this from the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble. I had heard of the author in passing but not enough to associate her to any one genre or anything like that. I just thought the book sounded interesting and it was five bucks, hardcover, so I said what the hell.

Lo and behold, all I need is the first description of a man the MC finds attractive to tell me there’s going to be some central-plot loving going on later. And the thing is, I don’t read romances. I’m sure there are some good ones out there but aside from the fact that they normally don’t interest me, this book just solidified the notion in me that I can’t stand them.

I’m sure there are much better romances out there, much better romance writers (dear god, I hope so) with realistic plotlines but picking up something like this just makes me question why my mom loves these kinds of books. She’s a Nora Roberts addict.

I can handle the romance, I really can. I don’t mind the sex. Trust me. I really don’t mind. What I can't stand is when the author relies on every freakin’ romance cliche in the book to get her point across. Again, I don’t read romance and for me to be rolling my eyes at large chunks of this text is saying something.

I almost wanted to dig the story except, right from the get-go, I wanted to punch the MC, Susan, in the face. I couldn’t stand her. Her very existence on the page felt contrived, like the writer wrote her how she wanted her written, not how the character actually wanted to be written. I think it was pretty obvious that the author was looking for a spunky, feisty little thing that could hold her own against some nasty beasties. Yawn.

And why the hell does she give laundry lists of what people are wearing? Can she describe character no other way? And why is the first thing the MC sees in a person, any person, despite the circumstances, is their looks and how good looking they are? Why? And why is everyone so good looking? I don’t know about you but if a cat turned into a naked man in my living room, I’d be thinking ‘Kill it!’ not ‘could I tingle his dingle without him noticing?’ Realism people. Say it with me now. Realism. And I’m not talking about the cat thing.

And then there’s the insufferable name Rayvn. It’s bad enough to have a female character named Raven. How emo. I’m sure she wears way too much eyeliner to boot. But to have the male love interest and secondary main character be named Rayvn, I wanted to slit his wrists for him. Why? For the love of god, why? Rayvn? That’s like spelling vampire with a y. Just take a fork and scrape it against a plate, why don’t you?

And the song dropping. It only happened twice in the book (I'm almost positive) but when they walked through the club, Susan always noticed the song and was sure to name it in her head. I can't remember the song names but one was by Nelly and the other was by Black Eyed Peas. It held absolutely no relevance to anything and was completely random, even in passing, yet they were still there. They still baffle me.

Aside from the fact that the plot was more forced than a toddler in a beauty pageant, the sex scenes were “OMG deep” (in between sneezes, that was the depth) and that I could see the whole mate thing from the second it was mentioned somewhere in the first quarter of the book even though it didn’t happen until the second to last chapter, it was the Uber God Redundant of Redundancies that was the kicker. If I had to hear about how shunned of a reporter Susan was, how alone she was, how alone Rayvn was, any of their histories or how Susan’s heart ached, cranked, squeezed or any other number of squishies her heart could do for someone, I was going to rip my hair out. Really, where was this woman’s editor?

I would say this novel defied every rule of writing I’ve learned but saying ‘defied’ can a lot of the times mean something good came out as a result. This was not good. So I will use violate. This book violated, and violently so, every piece of education on writing I’ve received in my writing history. Every single one of them. From the redundancies to all tell, no show to cookie-cutter characters with “flaws” as thick as gossamer to the inability to tell a cohesive story without wandering back into massive info-dumping mid-plot which half the time was redundant information.

Now I know this is a book in a series. According to Amazon it’s book number 10. For the love of god there are at least nine more of these? Why isn’t the writing phenomenal at this point? Why hasn’t anyone told the author to take some writing classes and fix those fatal flaws in her work?

Really, is the sex that much of a draw that people will overlook the crap? Is the story that good? Personally Susan came way too quickly for any normal human girl and the plot needed a hell of a lot of work. It has potential but it’s buried in the mediocrity of the writing.

To be fair, I had a few eye-watering moments where the emotions between Rayvn (*yak*) and Susan came close to being real but I was so quickly wrenched from those moments by the otherwise lackluster writing that I just couldn’t stay involved. I tried but in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters. They held no interest to me.

Remind me to consider my bargain bin purchases a little more closely next time. I want to make sure I find something with substance on the next go around.

Just a side note, this is not by any means inclusive of all romance writing. Like I said, I’m sure there’s stuff a hell of a lot better out there but unfortunately it’s crap like this that gives romance a bad name, I think anyway. I have respect for writers of all genres so long as they do what they do to the best of their ability and are capable of recognizing their own faults. If this was the best of the author’s ability, maybe it would have been better kept as a midnight fantasy told amongst friends. Like Twilight.


Stormy said...



I wrote this really big comment, then the interwebs just ate it and wouldn't give it back to me. :(


Ravyn. What? Ravyn. Seriously? Wasn't this...kind of a clue to throw it across the room?

Cat-into-boy, no, sex should not be on one's mind (only exception is possibly some sort of manga-verse where this stuff is commonplace, and the character was already familiar with it). Otherwise, no, first thought should be "BEAT WITH STICK"

Her very existence on the page felt contrived, like the writer wrote her how she wanted her written, not how the character actually wanted to be written.
Sigh. Sigh. Yes, you can start out with the idea of having a little punky, feisty character who can hold their own...but when you let them breathe, sometimes you find out that all they want to do is be a depressive cookie-eating girl who can't shoot straight. >_>

*ahem* Characters will be who they will be, contriving them into something they're not is never a good idea, despite your intentions - recycle that version for later, or write a new character, don't force square pegs into round holes.

the sex scenes were “OMG deep” (in between sneezes, that was the depth)
Currently I'm very tired, stressed and moving in two days, so I could be reading this wrong, but...

Do the sneezes increase the depth of the sex scenes like "Awww, you have the sniffles but we will have ZOMGTEHSEXXORS anyway cause I WUB YOU SO MUCH!!!" ...or was it something less insane?

Donna said...

Don't you hate it when that happens?

The sex was stereotypical romance but she sneezed during it because she was allergic to the cat-man's hair. That's pretty much as deep as it got so I think it would fit into the first bit of insanity you have there.

Gen L. said...

I haven't read that book yet (I only read the Dark-Hunter ones) and I honestly wouldn't have grabbed that book even if it cost five bucks. But her other books are good, or ok, not nearly as bad as you make it sound. In my opinion she's a good author and I gotta admit that the Were-Hunter and Dream-Chaser and Dream-Warrior series are kind of boring. So I recommend you read the Dark-Hunter ones. They are much much better. You need to read about Acheron and the rest of the Dark-Hunters, though some of their pasts are perhaps a bit too similiar to each other. Still, they are funny.v

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