Blood Noir (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #16) - Laurell K. Hamilton

Jason Schuyler's dad is about ready to die, and Jason needs to bring back a girlfriend so his dad can die knowing that Jason wasn't gay. Yes, this is a plotline too cheesy for the most sappy of Lifetime movies, but whatever. We need to know more about Jason now, so this is the plot we have to work with.

So Jason takes Anita Blake back to his home to visit his family. Why not his girlfriend from the last few books, Perdita? Oh, she's a harpy that won't let Jason sleep around and wants monogamy. And of course, it's totally OK for Jason to not want monogamy, even though in "Danse Macabre", Anita chewed Ronnie out for the same damn thing.

The two head to Jason's home and more stupid crazy barely sitcom worthy plots appear: look-alike cousins! Drunk brides! A cheating politician's son! And of course some vampires and werebeasts because Anita hasn't added a new man to her roster yet.

Saying that the Anita Blake series (particularly these last few books) is a strange, addictive kind of awful is a bit boring, particularly if you have been saying it for at least 6 books. And in my case, someone who is not a fan and is just trying to observe and analyze the phenomenon, I've been critiquing this series from book 1. So if you've been bored of me saying "Anita Blake is horrible" and "The writing sucks", I can completely understand.

So, to spice things up, I've decided to tell this review in pictures that convey how I feel about different portions of the review. After the pictures, I'd like to try to summarize in the briefest of words my thoughts and then provide some quotes, if applicable.

Without further ado: Blood Noir, a Review in Pictures

Anita Blake

Times She Asks “What does it mean?”: >11
Times Anita Analyzes a Handshake: 3 (Phyllis, Iris, and Alex)
Anita Blake. Vampire Hunter. The Executioner. Necromancer. And about a bajillion other titles. She’s the protagonist of the series, but as the series continues, it’s harder and harder to think of her as a straight protagonist. Her powers are uncontrollable. They continue to expand exponentially, often taking control of those around her, and no one, least of all Anita herself, even THINKS to try to find a way to get rid of them.
She continues to be the same hypocrite, rude, sexist, narcissist, who still hasn’t gotten over the fact it’s OK to want sex, she has been in the last 15 books:

“And you just made all of your old friends think that I would allow any boyfriend of mine to ignore me for an hour as he was pawed by old lovers.”
It’s not OK if you cheat on me. Now, me having sex with another man, that’s OK, because I have the ardeur and it needs to FEED.

“Why was it always wrong for me to admit that I simply wanted to be with someone - not because I had no choice, but because for once, I did?"
I don’t know, Anita; I would think after having regular, frequent sex for the last 10 books, you would be OK with it now.

“You don't have any hobbies. You don't do anything to relax, except sex."
Uh, this doesn’t sound like a hobby; it sounds like a sex addict.

"If he'd been a girlfriend, I'd have asked by now, but guy friends are different. Sometimes you have to sneak up on them like some sort of wild animal...all men are leery of their emotions. Spook them and they'll shut down. If you're careful, quiet, not too eager, sometimes you'll learn more."
"Men need privacy when they finally break down."
Ah, patriarchy. So nice to see you are alive and well…not!

“To have someone who says she loves you limit how you express yourself in the bedroom is like a small death. It kills the soul.”
If he isn’t getting pleased, it’s not because they are sexually not compatible. Oh, no, it’s HER fault for squelching him.

“Could I just not tell the difference? …Was I so confused about sex and love that without Nathaniel or someone else, I couldn’t tell the difference between wanting a man for lust and wanting him for love?”

“The concept of one single person being the all, end all for you, that I missed."
Because having eight men fawn over you and worship you is just so bleh compared to one.

And because LKH feels the need to tell us how awesome Anita is (in case all her spangly super powers don’t already prove it), she makes sure to intersperse the dialogue with lots of compliments to Anita – most of them compliments Anita does not deserve:

”I didn't mean any disrespect.” (Peterson)
“Yeah, you did, but my ego doesn't bruise that easily.” (Anita)

"You are one of the most grown-up people I know." Jason to Anita

"But then, you are one of the least commitment phobic people I know.”
I stared down at him. “I know some people who might argue that with you.”

“I know there are people who would argue that I have no self-control at all.”
“They're just jealous,” he whispered.

Anita Blake and Jason Schuyler

What is Anita’s relationship to Jason? Does she love him or just love having sex with him? Or maybe…who cares? At this point in the book, Jason is just one of many: Jean-Claude, Richard, Asher, Damien, Micah, Nathaniel, Requiem, London, and Haven (sorta). Why do we care about his story? Why do we care about his relationship with Anita? Why is it important for them to figure out whether they are boyfriend/girlfriend (I’m sorry, “lovers”, because Anita says that “boyfriend” sounds “too junior high”) or f-buddies? And why must Jason be yet another one of the men with a history of abuse (albeit not sexual or openly physical abuse)? Does no one in these books have a semi-normal childhood?

The Characters

Good luck trying to pick out the characters in this book. You have the evil, bigoted father, the tender-hearted, long-suffering mother, the bubbly sister, the grumpy sister, the drunk bride, the quirky maid of honor, the d-bag politician’s son who can’t help but cheat on his fiancé, and a thousand other clichés. Even characters like Jean-Claude, Richard, Nathaniel, and Micah are almost indiscernible from the noise of so many characters.

A Bridal Party

After Jason sees his father in the hospital, he and Anita make their way to the best hotel in the town. Of course, that is the hotel that Keith Summerland’s fiancée is using for her bachelorette party. And thus ensues more “hijinks” and “delightful misunderstandings”, kissing Anita Sue’s @$$, and generally making women look like a horrible species.

Pre-Coital Consensual Sex

What sex scene is complete without a couple of chapters or 10 having the characters talk about their horrible childhoods? Or whine about the metaphysical crap that has happened to them? Or ask each other questions about stuff you the reader have known since book 1?

What do you mean that is a mood killer?

The Sex

Grabbing people’s thighs, sports cuffs and safe words like “Enough” are totally BDSM!

Black-Out Non-Consensual Sex

There is so totally NOTHING WRONG with waking up and finding out you had sex with three men (two of them complete strangers) for the past two days! You don’t really need to freak out or ANYTHING!

The Wrap Up

Eh, writing conclusions are so tough. And who wants to write a main character investigating bad guys? Let’s just spend the last few chapters wrapping it up.

The Writing

And because it wouldn’t be LKH without some amazing writing, here we go!

"He lived on that emotional edge for me. That edge that felt familiar. The edge that Nathaniel had lived on for awhile. The edge that Asher had lived on."

“His eyes were all blue skies, spring skies. But as he leaned in towards me, the blue deepened so that his eyes were the color of summer and nothing as soft as spring.”

"He was thinking so loud, I could almost hear it."

"I heard that sound, not with my ears but with my skin."

"It was wrong, too, that I couldn't figure out what was wrong."

"Jason felt my emotions, felt what Richard made me feel."

"The quiet was strangely loud, as if I could feel him thinking furiously."

In some ways “Blood Noir” wasn’t half bad, but what hurts the book most is its pointlessness. Jason has been around for almost 10 books; I really wasn’t looking for a book dealing with his drama (particularly when it was the same “My daddy abused me wah wah” type). We already had a book with Anita and one of her lovers heading to a crime, and that book (“Micah”) was a lot better than this one because A) it was shorter and B) it bothered to actually address the plot. And then we have the lamest plot contrivance ever; when your characters are calling out how stupid your plot is, maybe you ought to rethink what you are writing.

Once again, if you’ve loved the books up to now, you’ll probably love this, but if you’re a fan and have not liked the last few books, this isn’t going to win you over (unless maybe you are a die-hard Jason fan). Whatever you do, don’t buy this book. Be kind to your trees and check this out from the library.