Cerulean Sins (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #11) - Laurell K. Hamilton "Most people don't find me funny at all."

Anita Blake meets a guy in her office. Gasp, shock, horror, she actually accepts his job. She then raises a zombie. Asher arrives to tell her "Surprise! Musette, Belle Morte's cronie, is here!" She rushes to Jean-Claudes to get in a p!ssing match with Musette. Then she has to rush home to feed the ardeur. She argues about who she will have sex with. Asher waffles about having sex. Anita Blake has sex. Anita Blake is summoned to a crime scene, but she is too weak to go herself after such amazing sex so Jason drives her. She needs to feed the ardeur. Anita argues about who she will have sex with. Anita has sex. She talks about sex. She talks about her relationships. She talks about the new French vampires from Belle Morte. She has sex. She talks about sex. She finally goes to meet the French vampires. Oh, yeah, and she finally remembers the murders and the zombie raising she was hired to do at the beginning of the book. Good thing those last two could easily be wrapped up in a few minutes.

I'm sorry. I know a lot of these reviews have been nothing but me saying "Anita Blake is a horrible woman", "The writing is so mediocre and misogynistic", "There is a good story here, but too bad it is buried in bullsh!t". And I'm afraid this is another one of these reviews.

It's sad, because amidst all the sex, talking about sex, prepping for sex, arguing about vampire politic minutiae, arguing about werewolf political minutiae, p!ssing contests, misogyny, and bad fashion shows, there IS a good story. The zombie raising at the beginning of the novel (while barely, by a tenuous, subtle thread, connects to the "main" plot--whatever that is) was one of the best in the series. I felt, for the first time in this series, that I had a clear idea of what Anita did and how she did it. The shapeshifter murder mystery isn't half-bad. And I don't want to send you into cardiac arrest, but Anita actually gets a Court Order of Execution and IS THE FRAKKIN' EXECUTIONER with a one-liner that would have made Arnold Schwarzenegger proud. In a book series, where Anita Blake is supposed to be a "Vampire Hunter" so feared she is called the "Executioner", this is the only book I can remember where she got an actual Court Order to kill a frakkin' shapeshifter or a vampire. About damn time.

And then we have the one character who doesn't suck up to Anita and isn't afraid to bring up Anita's stupidity, Jason:

"I think you dated [Richard and Jean-Claude] both to keep from falling in love with either of them." - Jason
"Originally, Jean-Claude said he'd kill Richard if he didn't get a chance to woo me too." - Anita
"Why didn't you just kill Jean-Claude then? You don't tolerate ultimatums, Anita. Why would you tolerate that one?" - Jason
I didn't have an answer for that. - Anita

"I loved someone once with my whole heart and he stomped on it." - Anita
"Please, not the fiance in college, Anita, that was years ago, and he was an asshole. You can't spend the rest of your life nursing one bad experience." - Jason

In the ways I listed above, "Cerulean Sins" (which doesn't refer to any building, but apparently the memo everyone got to wear Cerulean Blue) is actually better than "Narcissus in Chains". I mean, CS did have a plot; it hasn't been THAT long since I finished NiC, and I can't give you a plot summary to save my life (other than "Sex, BDSM, sex, sex, drama, wangst, sex, sex, arguing, sex"). But in many ways, this book is just as bad as the previous books.

Anita Blake might as well rename herself "Mary Sue". I've forgotten how many titles she has to her name now: Nimi-ra, Animator, Necromancer, Jean-Claude's human servant, succubus, Federal Marshall (which happened all off-screen by the way), etc. I've forgotten how many men are lining up to get into her panties (which, conveniently, match with her bra): Jean-Claude, Asher, Jason, Nathaniel, Micah, Zerbrowski, etc. She has demanded to be called "Ms. Blake" but then won't respect a mourning woman's desire to be called "Mrs."

She thinks a covering a transsexual's family problems and a teacher raping a 13 year old boy are "weird crap":

"It was just the kind of weird crap [Court TV] liked to televise. You know, transsexual's custody case, female teacher rapes 13-year-old boy student, pro-football player's murder trial."

She is making out/having sex with several men, and yet somehow Asher says this about her:

"I have met saints and priests over the centuries that had not your will to resist temptation."

Last I checked, resisting temptation kind meant NOT doing whatever is "tempting", not "holding back from screwing anything in sight".

What is probably most groan-worthy is the silly plot device that “forces” Anita to have sex, the “ardeur”. Anita has to feed it every 12 hours or she will die. This leads to a large portion of the novel dedicated to sex, relationships, arguing about who is going to have it with whom, and so on and so forth. It bugs me that this “ardeur” basically strips Anita of her choice in the matter; if it is supposed to be a metaphor for women's sexuality, it fails.

But of course, Anita doesn't WANT that much sex. Oh, no, like a bad, pornographic movie, she is FORCED to have this much sex:

"Why was I always made to feel guilty because I wasn't having sex with more people? Wasn't it supposed to be the other way around?"

Despite claiming to be a feminist, Anita frequently makes misogynistic remarks such as:

"If I'd have been a man, I'd have let it go, but I was a girl, and girls poke at things more than men."

Yup, Anita, you really are equal rights. Calling grown women "girls" and comparing them to MEN is really feminist of you.

She pretty much gets into a fight with any authority figure whose path she crosses. Double-time if that person happens to be a woman. Triple if that woman is blond and tall.

Not to mention, Anita seriously needs to check into the hospital. Besides having breathing problems:

"I was blushing so hard, my head was beginning to hurt."

"I tried to speak but couldn't remember where my mouth was or how to draw a breath. I couldn't remember how to answer her."

"It was hard to swallow past my pulse."

"...I felt like the only thing keeping my pulse in my mouth was the tight line of my lips.

"I think I stopped breathing."

"I kept my mouth closed; I was afraid of what would fall out if I opened it."

Or then, Anita thinks she is oh, so clever and goes off on random rants that have absolutely nothing to do with the plot or what is happening at the moment:

"I think that's why dogs are so damned popular. You can cuddle a dog as much as you like, and the dog never thinks about sex or pushing your social boundaries in anyway. Unless you happen to be eating. Dogs will invade your social boundaries for table scraps unless trained to do otherwise."

"It wasn't the beauty of him that made me love him; it was just him. It was a love made up of a thousand touches, a million conversations, a trillion shared looks. A love made up of danger shared, enemies conquered, a determination to keep the people that depended on us safe at almost any cost, and a certain knowledge that neither of us would change the other, even if we could. I loved Jean-Claude."

"Guns don't care if you're psychically gifted; guns don't care about anything. They don't b!tch at you about the rules in your life, either. Of course, neither does a dog. But I don't have to use a pooper scooper after I'm through shooting my gun."

"Sometimes love makes you selfish; sometimes it makes you stupid; sometimes it reminds you of why you love your gun.

"There was that word again. Love. I was beginning to think I didn't know what it meant."

"Sane happy people don't hack their hair off at home with scissors. Cutting your hair like that is usually a substitute for hurting yourself in other, more permanent ways. Any counselor will tell you that."

"But once you get me angry, I usually stay there. I enjoy my anger; it's the only hobby I have."

"It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Because for anything to matter, I could not have gone back into that room. I had to go back into that room, so nothing mattered."

Other than Jason, I didn't care for any of the other characters. Pretty much all of them have been reduced to their one attribute and nothing more. Asher whines about being ugly; Richard whines about being a monster; Dolph suddenly gets all aggressive and offensive to Anita, when before he had been nothing but professional. Nathaniel is creepy and disgustingly submissive. And Jean-Claude continues to parade the bad fashion that makes this book a riot to read.

Because it is an Anita Blake book, I need to talk about the fashion disasters in this book. On the most part, I've tried to ignore them (such as Anita's wearing baggy shirt and jeans and SOMEHOW passing as a teenager in the early 2000's or Anita's wearing some slutty garment because *lame excuse here*), but here are some of the ones I caught that made me laugh until I cried:

"[Jean-Claude] was wearing skin-tight leather pants, tucked into thigh-high boots so it was hard to tell where the pants left off and the boots began."

"The panties and bra were a matched pair, a shiny navy satin. When I'd found them, they had reminded me of the color of Jean-Claude's eyes."

"...his eyes [were] as normal as they ever got - midnight blue, lashed with black lace."

"The hair was like a living accessory. For a moment, I thought [Jean-Claude] was wearing leather pants, until I realized the black boots ran up the entire length of his leg. He was wearing black pants, but they were barely visible."

One of the best parts, in that "So Bad It's Good" way, is the writing. Hamilton's writing has always been serviceable at best; here, it's as if no one bothered to proofread it:

"His voice held sorrow so thick that you could have squeezed it out, tears in your cup."

"Asher was afraid. I could taste his fear on the back of my tongue. I could swallow it, enjoy the bouquet of it, like a fine wine to whet the appetite."

"...that brought me back, reminded me I had a body, that skin contained me, that bones and muscles rode the body underneath me."

"Jason lowered us both into the water. It felt wonderful so warm...Jason moved me gently in the water...The warm water was so warm, so warm."

"He ate those sounds straight from my mouth, as if he were tasting my screams."

"I couldn't see or feel or be. It was neither light nor dark, nor up nor down."

And my absolute personal favorite!

"The room was red. Red as if someone had painted all the walls crimson. But it wasn't an even job of painting. It wasn't just red or crimson, but scarlet, ruby, brick red where it had begun to dry. A color so dark, it was almost black, but it sparkled red like a garnet."

I am almost nostalgic for the early Anita Blake books. Anita wasn't nearly so aggressive, there was a plot (or twenty) and some pretty interesting action scenes. It seems the books now are just Anita being hostile, sex, boring politics, and a hasty mystery wrapup.

Classic Anita Blake fans, the ones turned off by Narcissus in Chains, are probably not going to enjoy this. Newcomers to Anita Blake are going to be completely lost amidst intricate, overly complicated, silly paranormal creature politics. And if you were ever hesitant about the series, I sincerely doubt this book is going to win you over.