So this past week Affliction, the 22nd novel of the Anita Blake vampire series came out. I had placed a hold on it at the local library, but a friend got me a copy of the e-book. After skimming the first fifty pages or so and spotting Anita asking a stupid question I skipped to the final chapter to get the handy-dandy wrap up that Laurell K. Hamilton is oh-so fond of.
Anita grew more powerful. Again. Both in her vampire powers in her were powers. Jean-Claude grew more powerful. There was talk of a polyandrous commitment ceremony – Jean-Claude, Micah and Nathaniel for sure, the rest were up in the air. There was perfunctory plot wrap up because gods know that no longer cares to wrap it up properly. And as I was skimming it, I’m like screw this. I’m done.
I’ve held on to the series a lot longer than other people who have read the books I know, even though I knew they weren’t very good. A kind of Stockholm Syndrome, I guess. But it still makes me sad that it’s gotten to this point. I have a lot of history with this series.
I’ve been reading them faithfully for some seventeen years; when they were coming out twice a year, only in paper back and they didn’t contain any sex. Back when Anita had enough power that vampires weren’t quite the threat to her they were to most humans, but not like the overly powerful day-walking vampire who doesn’t drink blood that she is today (and I can make that claim since she’s also a pan-were who doesn’t shift). Back when Laurell didn’t absolutely ruin a character just to give Anita more powers. Back when plot was absolutely front and center of the books, and not having to wonder whether this book was going to be sex with a hint of plot, or plot but taken out of St. Louis and away from the side-characters I liked just so Laurell could avoid the temptation of having her characters fuck all book long. Back when Anita could be seen as a female lead to look up to, and not just a Mary Sue who has all of the authors issues. Back when the books were good enough to take her from paperback-only sales to New York Times best-selling and releases in hard back. Back when she had to put effort into things.
I obtained my desire to keep books in immaculate shape from this series after a friend chewed me out for wrecking the spine on her book.
This series even shaped what I like to see in vampire literature – I loved the notion of vampires who were not only out of the coffin, but had a full and thriving governmental system with a hierarchy and rules in place as opposed to vampires being just lonely soles who occasionally may pass one another as time marches on.
This series and its success not only inspired Charlene Harris, but helped pave the way for her, and without it we wouldn’t have True Blood one of my favorite television shows.
There was a lot of good in these books, both on the page and off, but I absolutely cannot find any of that in the books anymore. It’s just gone. The books are a former shell of themselves. They’ve gone on too long and should have ended with the death of The Mother of All Darkness because these last few books have been pretty aimless.
Not all series need to be deep to be enjoyable. When the series began they were great beach books. Interesting mysteries with interesting characters in an interesting world.
Now though? They seem to be little more than an excuse for poorly written smut with oversized members and trying to turn Anita into a vampire without giving her the fourth mark because she’s made Anita a selfish bitch who still doesn’t seem to get that if she dies she’ll probably take three-four people with her at least because of the way she’s bound to others. She risks all of Jean-Claude’s territory because their enemies all assume she’s taken that fourth mark. Yes, she has the excuse of wanting to be human, but she isn’t anymore. She’s gained a vampire’s morality and thinks like them. She fights like them and has collected an array of abilities that most Master vampires in this universe could only dream them. She is a vampire in everything but name and Laurell seems blind to it. And I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of all of it. I can no longer defend the series, however weakly. I’m done.
Farewell, Anita Blake. You were an interesting ride to take. I just wish my journey had ended better.