Friday, September 19, 2014

Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Title: Red Blooded
Author: Amanda Carlson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Jessica McClain #4

Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publication: September 9, 2014 by Orbit

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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Jessica is on her way to Hell. After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn't have the power to stop.

Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast... new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be... or she will never make it out alive.

When opening a Jessica McClain book reader are always guaranteed two things, nonstop action and twists upon twists. And going into the fourth book in the series, Red Blooded isn’t short on either element. 

In the last book, Jessica’s brother Tyler was kidnapped by the Underworld Prince and the only way to retrieve him is to go into the Underworld herself.  Jesscia’s plan is to minimize detection by all means possible, which leaves her the only choice of bringing two allies with her, Ray the reaper vampire and the Vampire Queen Eudoxia. However, for anyone familiar with this series know that anything rarely goes accordingly for the gang. While prepping for her trip to the Underworld, Jessica accidently launches herself ahead of schedule, unprepared and alone!

The beginning of Red Blooded was slow, a lot slower than all of the previous books which was quite surprising. The action started once Jessica arrives in the Underworld dump site, being chased by hellhounds a.k.a chupacabras and unseen phantoms/Wyverns as she treks through the unknown in search of Tyler. However, these action scenes left me feeling disengaged. The scenes are nonstop action but it felt formulated. I was hoping to be ‘wowed’ by the Underworld but instead it had the opposite effect of being underwhelming, there wasn’t anything remotely interesting or scary about it. To be honest the entire time Jessica was in the Underworld (which was for 2/3 of the book) I was bored. Why? Because none of the usually gang was there (not till the end), and I missed that. What I enjoy most about this series are the characters and without them there, it showed me that Jessica’s character alone cannot hold an audience. There were two things that bothered me about Red Blooded, the first was the internal monologue Jessica had with her wolf (and later telepathically with Tyler/Rouke). I was never bothered by it before, but then again it wasn’t as pronounced in the previous books. It was just too much, and every time she spoke telepathically/Internally (which was A LOT) I found myself skipping over the scenes. The second thing is the repetition; my goodness was that in abundance. Jessica would say one thing and a couple of pages later she’d say the same thing again but somehow re-worded. Also the word ‘Horrid’ was used like every other page (Okay maybe not every other page) but enough that it caught my attention every couple of pages. It actually got distracting to the point that I would momentarily withdraw from the story. 

Since Jessica was without friends/backup for most of the book, readers were introduced to a new character, demoness Lili, a prisoner that Jessica inadvertently meets while escaping the hellhounds. I was intrigued with Lili right away and more so when I learned of her true origin. But that intrigued slowly diminished as I saw more of Lili. The addition of Lili as a subplot ended up feeling more like a page filler for drama. Lili didn’t support the main plot much and in my opinion didn’t push the story forward (I mean the book/series as a whole).  And it wasn’t the good kind of drama either…it was more soap opera drama because Lili is the Prince’s mistress. Enough said. 

Just when I felt like Red Blooded wasn’t going to get any better; the last 100 pages saved the book. Rouke, Danny, Eudoxia, Naomi and Ray make an appearance and the action scenes were actually engaging again. Unlike the first 2/3 of the books I found myself finally enjoying the story, because the last 100 pages are what a Jessica McClain book should be. Not only does the plot get exciting but readers finally learned the truth about the prophecy. Yay for answers, but the events at the end of Red Blooded opens another can of worms for Jessica and the gang. 

Overall I thought Red Blooded was a good book, okay at times. I had high expectations for Red Blooded as this is the fourth book in the series. What I’ve noticed over the course of the books is how far it has departed from the essence of the first book. While this is a fun and unique Urban Fantasy, I can’t help but wish for a more serious concrete story arc that connects the books together. So far the books’ plots are just a bunch of random things thrown together without rhyme or reason, it was fun but after awhile it becomes tiring and predictable. Also with this installment, I notice there hasn’t been any character growth nor do I see the end game of the series…which is a serious problem for me.  Jessica seems to always wing it, never taking anything seriously. She gains immense power, new powers (or discovered abilities she didn’t know she already had) each book and while it was cool in the beginning I now find it absurd. Bottom line, I liked how Red Blooded ended, and am curious to see what happens next but I don’t know if I’ll be out rushing to read the next book in the series, Pure Blooded or if I’ll continue with the series altogether.  

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