Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review: J.A. Saare, Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between

Enjoyable read if you can soldier on past a rather slow and irritating beginning

244 pages
Eternal Press (February 7, 2010)
Reading level: Adult

I had some difficulty getting into this book and seriously considered giving up on it at least 3 times before I made it through the halfway mark. I finally finished it this morning (after about a week and a half of almost-quitting) and am glad I stuck it out. The characters grew on me in the 2nd half of the book, and the plot held my attention, though it was confusing sometimes.

Why did I come so close to quitting? First and foremost, I found the main character, Rhiannon, extremely grating for a long time. Like many other heroines in this genre (Rose Hathaway of Vampire Academy and Merit of Chicagoland Vampires come to mind), Rhiannon has a sharp tongue and a bad attitude. But she takes the whole cranky, hardened, "bite me" tough-girl thing to a new level. Every other word out of her mouth is a curse. Her running commentary is peppered with expletives and sarcastic remarks that are supposed to be witty, I guess, but in my opinion were mostly just corny and boring. I kept asking myself, why is this character so angry all the time? Is there some reason for this tedious behavior or is the author just desperate to convince readers that Rhiannon is a badass? As it turns out, there's a very good reason for Rhiannon's angry, standoffish nature, one which isn't revealed until about 2/3 of the way through. After which point Rhiannon begins to grow as a person, softening up a bit, showing some depth of character, even becoming likable. Thank goodness.

The other thing I had a problem with right off the bat was it seemed like the author was stealing material from the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood franchise. The main point of tension in this novel is that vampires are being murdered, their blood sold on the black market as a high class drug. Similar to "V" in the Sookie books, vampire blood gives humans an amazing rush of heightened senses that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days depending on how much blood is ingested. Rhiannon, a powerful necromancer, is recruited by a coven of "good" vampires to help track down the bad guys responsible for these murders.

So, for awhile, it seemed to me like Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between was kind of just a lame imitation of better, more successful books in the genre. But as I read on, it became clear that while Saare definitely did borrow some ideas from other authors, this book had a few original things in it too. The development of Rhiannon was believable and interesting. Disco (her vampire beau), while not terribly well developed himself at this point in the series (hmmm, is this a series? The cliffhanger ending sure makes it seem so but I'm having a hard time finding info about sequels on the web), was compelling enough, and definitely sexy.

I did find the plot a bit hard to follow at times, though this could be because I kept putting the book down for a couple days at a time out of frustration/boredom before continuing on with it. There are a lot of names thrown out and it's hard to remember who's good or bad, who's a human, who's a demon, a necromancer, a vampire-slayer, a vampire vampire-slayer, etc.

All in all though, I basically found more to like than dislike; it was fast-paced and exciting, and the main characters were, in the end, interesting and even likable people.

3 stars

You might also like:
Richelle Mead, Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)
Chloe Neill, Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, #1)
Katie Salidas, Immortalis Carpe Noctem


  1. tori aka ggs_closetJune 27, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Interesting review. I didn't get that vibe when reading it. The blood drinking/gaining power premise is an old one. many authors use it. Chance, Kenyon,Ward,Showalter, ect...
    But I do know that Dead was written before Trueblood series aired. ;)

  2. thanks for stopping by, tori!
    i see your point, and i know that authors borrow from each other all the time. but this particular use of vampire blood (where there's a whole black market for it and some humans are hunting vamps to get their hands on it) just seemed sooo similar to the sookie books (the first of which came out 10 yrs ago, long before this book)...unless i'm getting confused and the V thing was only part of the tv show, not the books. it's been ages since i read any sookie books.

    still, all-in-all a good book, with plenty of original things in it.