Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride. (from Amazon)
Man, thinking about having to write this review has given me (hypothetical) hives, because I adore Cherie Priest and I absolutely love her steampunk books and I know she’ll find this review somehow and I don’t want her to hate me. I put off writing a review for a while because of the (hypothetical) hives, because, you see…I’m just not enthusiastic about Bloodshot.
I was SO excited about it when she was posting updates re:plot/wordcount/etc on her blog. It sounded so cool! Drag queens and snarky vampires and secret government programs. Good stuff! Exciting stuff! And since I know Cherie Priest is an awesome writer I just knew I’d love Bloodshot. Right?
It’s not that I hate Bloodshot. It’s definitely way better than most of the other urban fantasies-with-vampires books I’ve read. It’s got an interesting lead– a paranoid ex-flapper vampire suffering from some sort of nervous condition who can nevertheless still a bunch of hard-to-steal stuff– and and interesting plot, and there’s very little romance so I didn’t feel like puking for once, and all in all it sort of reminds me of an Angel/X-Files combo TV series. It’s not a BAD book. It’s just…not as good as I was hoping it would be.
I think I’m disappointed mainly because of two things:
1. the ending is like what happens when a soufflé collapses just as you’re about to put it down on the dinner table.
2. Raylene was not as good a protagonist as the ladies in CP’s other books.
The first point speaks for itself, I think. The second point needs more expanding, so: Raylene. She’s an interesting lead, as I’ve said. I like that she wasn’t shy about killing people (so rare for a vampire nowadays), and I like that she was a bit of a lecher. I like that she has issues with privacy and safety and that despite her panic attacks she can still kick ass. But what I didn’t like was that she was only a vampire thief prone to panic attacks. She wasn’t anything else.
With Cherie Priest’s other female protagonists, you know they’re more than just what they seem on the outside. In Boneshaker, for instance, Briar is more than just a worried mom. In Dreadnought, Mercy was more than just a nurse with a dead husband. They had other things going for them, they had painful histories and hopeful futures. And in their stories they both grew in some way, they both changed from how they were at the beginning of the book.
But with Raylene? I didn’t see that. She stayed exactly the same as she was in the beginning and though there are hints to her past life (both pre-vampire and pre-book), it nevertheless felt like her life only began at the first page. For an urban fantasy vampire she’s got some depth, but for a Cherie Priest protagonist I think she fell a bit short.
Normally I think in this instance the secondary characters could pick up the slack of the protagonist, but even they were more boring than CP’s secondary characters usually are. The most interesting one only showed up for one phone conversation!
Anyway, I know Bloodshot is the start of a series and I’m still going to read the second book, if only to find out more about the government program. But I’ll be way more happy when the next Clockwork Century book comes out.
Read: March 5-15, 2011