Bad Blood

L. A. Banks
2008, Urban Fantasy
St. Martin's, $6.99, 330 pages, Amazon ASIN 0312949111
Part of a series

Grade: D-
Sensuality: Hot

A while ago, I tried to read Minion, L.A. Banks' first novel, yet couldn't finish it. The idea of her Vampire Huntress series appealed to me, but I couldnít get past the writing style. In fact, Minionís prologue now ranks as one of the worst Iíve ever read. Despite this, when I learned that the author started a werewolf series, I decided to give her another shot. Unfortunately, Bad Blood, the first book in this new series, didnít fare any better and if I hadnít needed to finish it, I wouldnít have.

The book started off very poorly. This prologue joins the other one I've read by this author among my list of the very worst. It was all over the place. The characters came off as immensely fake and there really wasnít any flow. The conversation and action were erratic and often had gaps, making everything very difficult to follow.

Sasha Trudeau has werewolf-tainted blood and belongs to a military group of like individuals. She invites them over one night to help her put together some IKEA furniture and all the men do is beam at each other and laugh (thatís the fake part). But then a challenge is issued and they settle down to work. Suddenly, their leader, Rod Butler, gets incredibly angry and itís clear that the wolf side of him is peeking through. All the members of the squad must take medication every twelve hours to suppress the werewolf virus in their blood. Sasha is able to calm him down and inject him with her own meds, but everyone is worried about what is happening to their leader. Within moments, however, they are called in to the base and given new assignments.

On her own, Sasha heads to North Korea to track down a werewolf. You see, her squad has the strength and the speed of werewolves, but technically, they aren't. Their job is to hunt down and kill those who are, and if the medication fails to work and a teammate Turns, they are trained to eliminate that teammate as well. What Sasha doesnít know, and what she learns in North Korea while confronted with a sexy werewolf, is that there are different kinds of wolves. The truly bad ones are called demon-infected, which, as you can guess, means theyíre infected with a demon strain. This causes those creatures to go mad at a full moon and requires them to eat human flesh. However, there also exist normal, un-tainted werewolves who do not need to eliminated, and Sasha knows she needs to get this new information to her commanders. She does not realize that her commanders already know much more than they have let on.

Before she goes to brief them, she enters a bar and meets another kind of werewolf, one who seems to know a lot about her squad members. Scared for her teammates, even though she knows theyíre on a mission, she visits their homes to check for signs of trouble. She finds it at Rodís house. Apparently his infection is of the demon variety and heís finally Turned. He came home early from the mission after he tried to attack his teammates and they shot him. Unfortunately, he turns on Sasha and sheís forced to kill him. The guy from the bar also shows up at Rodís house and she starts firing on him with no provocation. This bothered me, because (as the stranger points out) there were neighbors nearby and her bullets were going through walls, not to mention the fact that she doesnít even know if the man is a threat. But he calms her down and tells her about shadow wolves, not only his breed, but hers. So Max Hunter takes her home to his pack, Along the way they begin a relationship, and Hunter teaches her about what she is.

The flow and writing style were the biggest issues for me. The plot jumped all over the place and the author used massive info dumps that, after I finished the book, didnít seem necessary. Sasha would meet someone and he (it was always a he) would give her a bunch of new information, then she would go somewhere else and another man would tell her a bunch of stuff. I donít know if itís because all the men are after her or if she just thinks sheís all that, but Sasha seems to think that sheís very entitled. She breaks into all her friends' homes, but then leaves other innocent people to clean up her messes. She also has a holier-than-thou attitude, and jumps down other peopleís throats when they challenge her, sometimes even when theyíre simply expressing concern. Perhaps this was intended to create a tough-girl persona, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

The book features continuity issues as well. In the prologue Sasha is aware of Rodís changing feelings for her, that he now wanted more from her than friendship, but she thought of him simply as a brother. Then, when he was dead, she felt sad at the loss of her lover, and a couple of pages later she didnít really want to tell Hunter about her relationship with Rod, her potential lover. The book also has an uneven quality. Sasha, taught her whole life that to turn into a wolf is a very bad thing, is understandably terrified at the prospect. But when it happens to her, itís completely sudden and she doesnít have any thoughts on the life-altering change. To further the unevenness, conversations start with no lead-in and for the first part Iíd be lost, wondering where the thoughts initiated. Then, when Iíd think that I had correctly interpreted what transpired, pages later Iíd learn that something else entirely was meant by what I read. There were just too many ďhuh?Ē moments.

Finally, when it ends, crucial connections to solving a puzzle are missing. Conclusions are apparently made off the pages, because all of a sudden Hunter and Sasha go after ďthe bad guy,Ē but I have no idea when or why they realized it was that person. Sasha also entertains some thoughts that make one think she was merely stringing Hunter along for the entire book.

Sadly, I could go on and on, so I obviously took some serious issue with this book. However, I guess I could see how some people might not dislike Bad Blood as much as I did, especially if they enjoy Banksí vampire series. The story has some exciting moments, even if not written as Iíd like, and there was plenty of heat and lust. However, this particular author just isnít all that as far as I'm concerned.

-- Andi Davis

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