cool idea, cheesy execution
I finally got around to reading this last week, after it had been on my TBR list for about a year. The book, which seems to be regarded with something bordering on reverence in the paranormal fiction world, both exceeded and fell beneath my expectations.
First I'll talk about how it exceeded them. The world J.R. Ward has created here is an intricately thought out one. There's a glossary at the beginning with a full list of terms...everything from Virgin Scribe, the creator of the vampire race, to pyrocant, "a critical weakness in an individual." A die-hard Tolkien fan, I always appreciate authors who have the diligence and passion to design their worlds with such imagination and care. Plus, it was a nice change from some of the YA paranormal books I've had the misfortune to come across lately, whose worlds are only partially thought out, and seem more like vague sketches than the blazing reality of the Black Dagger Brotherhood's world.
The plot, too, was both complex and tightly woven, with none of the loose ends or blaring holes that one finds in so many books in this genre. I won't say the plot was unpredictable...but it definitely did keep me reading hungrily from start to finish.
I also liked that the book was told in the third person. I can't remember the last book I read that wasn't narrated in the first person, and until I read this one, I didn't realize how suffocating that viewpoint can be. It was refreshing to escape the presence of the main character, to be able to follow secondary characters independently, and not to know every single thought Beth or Wrath was having at a given time.
One thing I didn't love was a lot of the dialogue spoken and clothing worn by the Brothers. I found it hard to believe that vampires who had been alive for centuries would fit so comfortably into leather pants and chains, and that 21st century slang would be such a natural part of their vocab. Wrath, in particular, seemed kind of like a dolt a lot of the time - a large troll rather than a charismatic, angst-ridden leader. I'm not a huge fan of that type of character, so I personally didn't find him all that attractive.
Finally, I thought the book was way too heavy on the romance. I wish Beth and Wrath would have resisted each other for awhile or something...I think that would have made me more engaged. As it was, while I was happy that Wrath finally found someone to love, I wasn't as emotionally invested in their relationship as I would have been if they'd had to fight a bit harder for it. It just didn't seem all that believable to me. Ward tells us they were violently attracted to each other, and I guess we're just expected to believe it, even if the chemistry isn't really apparent.
After reading the Amazon summaries for the other books in the series, I've decided I won't be reading them, at least not right away. The books are just a little too romancy for me. And that's saying something...I do enjoy a good love story. But since the love story seems to be the main point of each book in this series, and since that was the part I had the most problems with, these puppies aren't going to make it onto my already overloaded TBR list for now.
Dark Lover, Black Dagger Brothers, #1
Publisher: Signet (September 6, 2005)