Thu 15 May 2008
Earlier this year I read Ms. Mead’s Vampire Academy, reviewed here. It was her first foray into YA territory, and while I wouldn’t say it was the best book I’ve read this year, it definitely made me search out other books she’s written. Turns out she’s currently writing three series: the Vampire Academy series, the Succubus series, and a third one about a shaman called Dark Swan (the series, not the shaman) due out at the end of the summer.
Georgina Kincaid works in a bookstore in Seattle during the day, and at night she goes out, has sex with men, and steals their life-force. No, really — a succubus needs a day job, after all. She’s been a little dissatisfied with her lot for a while, but if she doesn’t steal their life-force, she’ll die. The immortals have a hierarchy of sorts, and Georgie’s boss is Jerome, a demon who chooses to look exactly like John Cusack. Anyway, one night, Georgina’s out doing a favor for an imp friend of hers (he’s a plastic surgeon by day) when she gets accosted by a vampire she can’t stand named Duane. Unfortunately, that night he ends up dead. In the next few days, a surprising number of immortal-type people Georgina doesn’t like that much turn up dead. While she was cleared of any suspicion very early on (a succubus cannot kill a vampire), what’s actually going on?
There’s also a secondary plot going on between Georgina and Seth Mortensen. He writes mystery/suspense novels, with a pair of detectives who sound a lot like Mulder and Scully to me (only less paranormal). She’s a big fan. A really big fan. In that way where, to quote her,
“I–well, yes, of course I do [want to meet Mortensen]. It’s just, that. . . okay. Look, don’t get me wrong. I worship the ground this guy walks on. I’m excited to meet him tonight. I’m dying to meet him tonight. If he wanted to carry me off and make me his love slave, I’d do it, so long as I got advance copies of his books. But this touring thing . . . it takes time. Time that would be better spent writing the next book. I mean, haven’t you seen how long his books take to come out?”
Unfortunately, Georgina has that little problem where, you know, if she has sex with a guy, she steals his life-force. She can’t turn it on and off; it just happens. It limits her chances for romance a little bit, and makes the situation with Seth . . . complicated.
I liked Georgina. She was funny without being annoying or impossibly witty, and her internal banter was fun. For example. at the beginning of the book, when she runs into Duane, she comments that something she just said sounded like a bad action-movie line. It did, as a matter of fact. The other characters, which included an obsessive-compulsive vampire, a grunge-band-member coworker, an angel, and the aforementioned plastic-surgeon imp, were funny and well-drawn as well.
I had one minor problem with deus ex machinae, though. Most vampires are arrogant asshole loners . . . except Peter and Cody, Georgina’s particular friends. Well, we only see one other vampire, Duane, and that’s only for about two pages. Peter and Cody seemed to be the rule, for the space of the book, not the exception. Demons and angels don’t particularly get along . . . except Jerome and Carter, who are best friends and drinking buddies. Again, no evidence (other than her saying so) that this is the exception, rather than the rule. Seth Mortensen, who only happens to be her favorite author, ends his book tour in Seattle . . . because he’s moving there. Felt a little too convenient at times. I’m not saying the whole book is contrived; these elements only represent a small portion of what the book was. In some ways, the book felt like a book 2 in a series. Although we got a lot about Georgina’s personal history, we are expected to take so much of her world on faith.
Overall, the book works very well. The setting is lovingly described (then again, who wouldn’t love a bookstore in Seattle?); the characters are great, and the plot (overall) was well-paced and exciting without being too violent. I would like to note that this isn’t a children’s or YA book; Georgina is a succubus, for crying out loud, and that means sex. Not a lot of overt sex, but definitely sex. Anyway, I’d give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it for readers who enjoy books by Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, and Rachel Caine.