Blue Moon  - Laurell K. Hamilton "You are making this too complicated."

Anita Blake is woken in the middle of the night by a call from Daniel, Richard's younger brother. It appears while Richard was in Tennessee studying trolls and such for his master's thesis that he has been thrown in jail for rape. Anita immediately comes to the rescue, along with Asher, Damien, Jason, Jamil, Cherry, and a few other were's, against the explicit orders of the Master of the City, Colin. Can Anita clear Richard's name, keep her troop alive, and learn her burgeoning new abilities?

I'm really on the fence with the rating on this one. There were some key plot elements that I liked, but more than ever, there were parts that bugged the hell out of me.

I've never been a fan of Anita. I've always thought she's been b!tchy and unlikable, thinking more with whatever weapon she has at hand then with her brain. But Anita here is somehow even more unlikable than she's been in the last 7 books.

+ She calls Cherry a slut on numerous occasions for wearing "slutty clothes"--and then proceeds to wear a velvet midriff baring blouse with a neckline so low she had to wear a special black bra.

+ She basically causes the fight with Colin because she insists on barging in and fighting with the native vampires.

+ While the situation is critical and people are severely injured, she starts talking about people's sexual orientation, as if it is her business who they have sex with.

+ She criticizes Richard for sleeping around, when she cheated on Richard with Jean-Claude.

+ She is upset when Richard refuses to be monogamous unless Anita dumps Jean-Claude but expects Richard to respect her relationship with Jean-Claude. Anita also makes out with at least THREE guys with whom she is not in a relationship: Nathaniel, Asher, and Damien.

+ Anita resorts to torture or coercion TWICE in order to obtain information (one of those times, she refuses to allow medical treatment until she finds out what she wants) and then justifies her actions and "becoming the monster".

+ She never turns herself in for MURDER and TORTURE.

Okay, so before she was b!tchy, trigger-happy and impulsive, but at least she didn't commit blatant crimes (murder, torture, etc.) and then come across as the Spotless Pure and Holy Mother of God (well, she does hem and haw about "becoming the monster").

The books have already started to move away from the formula of the earlier entries--and not in a good way. I may not have been fond of the "Monster of the Week" plot device, but at least the earlier books bothered to HAVE a plot, a beginning, middle, and end.

The shame is, there IS a good plot in here. I liked Anita leaving to "rescue" Richard. I thought that if we had introduced the troll/corrupt cop/hidden artifact portion earlier in the novel, we would have a lot stronger of a novel.

Instead, the first half is mainly about Anita making people mad with her big, fat mouth. She walks into another vampire's territory, after he told her not to come, and expects him to just lie down and roll over. I'm sorry, Anita, choices have consequences. I'm sure if some self-important "Vampire Hunter" (because, honestly, when was the last time Anita actually hunted a Vampire?) barged into Jean-Claude's territory, you wouldn't hesitate to jump onto her and scare her away.

Anita's actions end up with Nathaniel badly injured (though, if LKH was a good author, Nathaniel would have been DEAD). To save his life, Anita has no problems throwing both Damien's AND Asher's lives on the life. For ONE GUY. That she doesn't know that well and DOESN'T EVEN LIKE.

The middle portion is mostly about Anita wanting to hump anything with a d!ck. As I said above, she makes out with THREE guys she is not in a relationship with and has sex with Richard. When she is dating Jean-Claude. So basically, she is cheating on her boyfriend, YET AGAIN.

The latter portion tries to add a plot, but it's so late in the game, it has to be hastily wrapped up LKH-style: meaning, Anita talks (argues) with someone who knows all the answers to the mystery. Once again, I am floored that Anita is considered so "smart". Half of the time, she wanders around having no f@#$ing clue what is going on, asking people over and over and over to explain the plot for her and the audience.

As if this weren't bad enough, the middle and latter halves bring up the first hints of the increased sexuality that I've heard plagues the latter books. Damien reveals to Anita that Jean-Claude is basically an incubus; also, Anita learns she must "be more comfortable" with sex when dealing with her wereleopards (because they are SO SEXUAL RAWR). Several times, Anita has to make out, disrobe, or do something sexual for some plot convenience--distraction, because of some arcane, never-before heard of plot device, etc. And then we have so much rape. It seems like, in order to show the audience who the bad guys are, LKH has them rape someone--and of course, it's usually the females.

I don't think I would mind these so much if it didn't feel so tacked on. Sure, the books have always had a sexual bent; but never in the earlier books did you have so much talk about sex and its relation to sloppily constructed, silly vampire/werewolf/wereleopard laws.

And then the clothes!! I'm pretty sure all the men are impotent (probably the women too), as it seems no one can find a pair of pants that isn't "painted on".

And the writing!! Good God, LKH has never been the most stellar writer, but at least I didn't have to read the phrase "A glob of something thicker than blood" a billion times per book in earlier books.

BUT there were parts I liked. The plot elements I described, along with a few key characters. Asher still seems pretty cool. I really enjoyed Jamil (who gives the review its title). I enjoyed seeing Anita and Richard get back together, and I nearly fainted to see a somewhat competent, powerful female, Marianne. And Marianne ACTUALLY MENTORS Anita (Anita doesn't know everything OMG)!

This is not the worst of the series--but it is close. You can already see the shift in the series, and if you didn't like the change in "Burnt Offerings", you are probably not going to like it here. Which is a shame, because LKH does have some really good ideas that, if she had trimmed away the fat, could have made a really good novel. 2.5 stars rounded down to 2 stars.