Friday, 1 July 2011
Black Dagger Brotherhood: Dark Lover - review
Here are the series of events which lead me to this book, you can skip ahead to the actual review part if you wish, but I couldn't really address how I came across this book without a little background first.
I'm always on the search for a great paranormal romance series. I got hooked on them when as a teenage student, I lived with a bunch of girls and that was all they had to read. I loved reading LJ Smith's nightworld series and I was always on the lookout for books of a similar nature. I got sidelined on paranormal romance for a few years whilst I was an extremely active and also completely obsessed member of the Harry Potter fandom. Of course, after Deathly Hallows managed to kill all enthusiasm I once had for the series in one crappy epilogue and I began seeing the flaws in the books I'd previously glossed over due to my passion for all things Hogwarts, I returned to looking for a new series to read.
I've read some really badly written books and some merely sloppily written books, I've read good books and also life changing books. The problem with romance is that everyone has different taste and finding a series which strikes a perfect balance to your taste can be a rare, rare thing.
I was recommended Black Dagger Brotherhood on a forum, quite some time ago and it's only now that I actually got around to buying a copy of the first book in the series. I had just read the entire run of Sookie Stackhouse books in the space of about 3 weeks and for me, they are my perfect series. I LOVE them and the wait for the next book is becoming quite painful, the worry that the tv series will completely miss out on the best parts of Dead to the World, on which the next series of True Blood will be based, is actually causing me a bit of anxiety as it's my favourite book in the run.
Even after reading that Laurell K Hamiliton was a nutcase, I thought I'd try the first Anita Blake book, as apparently the series jumped the proverbial shark later in the series, I didn't really like it, but I have another of Hamiltons books from a different series waiting on my shelf as maybe that will strike the right cord. I ummed and ahhed at the first Cassie Palmer book, I found it ok, nothing too exiciting, nothing too crap. Charlaine Harris's Harper Connolly series was a bit dull to start with but I really liked the third book, which I only picked up due to it being cheap at a charity shop. I was entertained by Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, but for all the wrong reasons. I hated Twilight. Though to be clear, I hated Twilight before all the internet backlash started, I hated it back when it was just a crappy book my friend sent me in the post as her revenge on me for liking Vampire Knight, which I admit is just as craptacular, looking back on it now.
So finding ONE perfect series for me was a gold mine. I got Black Dagger Brotherhood, not looking for a perfect series but looking for decent series to fill in the gaps between Sookie Stackhouse novels.
My worry began when I saw the first page.
Here's the problem with adding a glossary of terms at the front of your novel. When you are creating a new world with new terms to go along with your world, you face the problem of being able to adequately explaining these things to your readers. Your readers, however, are probably already very familiar with different worlds and different terms within them for various creatures of the night and as long as you can convey this properly in the narrative, there is no need for a glossary, unless your name is JRR Tolkien. Black Dagger Brotherhood: Dark Lover is written by JR Ward, she is not JRR Tolkien. It gets especially insulting when the last word in her glossary is the word vampire. That's right, she takes the time to explain to the reader what a vampire is in her paranormal romance novel.
I gave it a chance, maybe these words do get explained in the text and for some reason the author just decided to place this in the front of the novel instead of in the back.
We open in a nightclub called Screamer's, really, two vampires called Darius and Tohrment, no, really, are discussing their vampire king, Wrath, seriously. At this point I decide to give it a pass on the incredibly cheesy names, maybe there's a completely rational explanation later. Even though I'm only on the first page I start getting the feeling that this is going to be a bad book, if I had written this particular scene, I'd have thrown it away or re-written it or had my beta look over it to make it less cheesy, but I press on as sometimes books have really, really badly written first chapters and then get good later, I'm fairly sure I must have read one at some point.
Bearing in mind that this book was written in 2005, here is some of the exchanged dialogue between Darius and Tohrment (gag);
"And how's that going to go? You're just going to walk up to her and say, 'Hey, I know you've never seen me before, but I'm your dad. Oh and guess what? You've won the evolutionary lottery: You're a vampire. Let's go to Disneyland!'" Tohrment, page 2
"No offense, but I'm outtie" Tohrment page 2
I'm pretty sure that no one but, 15 year old girls have used the phrase 'I'm outtie' unironically since the film Clueless came out.
The crowd parts and 'Tohr' leaves in order to make way for the most cliched vampire ever put to paper to enter the scene:
Wrath was six feet, six inches of pure terror dressed in leather. His hair was long and black, falling straight from a widow's peak. Wraparound sunglasses hid eyes that no one had ever seen revealed. Shoulders were twice the size of most males'. With a face that was both aristocratic and brutal, he looked like the king he was by birthright and the solider he'd become by destiny. Page 4
The chapter switches to the point of view of Beth Randall, a bland Mary Sue, who is a reporter suffering from the worst case of cliché, sexist boss, known to man.
"You just keep working the blotter. Let the big boys worry about the violent crimes. We wouldn't want anything to happen to that pretty face of yours." Dick, page 5
I'm going to take a guess right now that JR Ward has been isolated from society for many, many years and only knows about real human interaction from 80's and 90's tv shows.
Blah, blah, blah, Beth walks home and on her way, she meets two would-be rapists who drag her into an alley and rip her clothes off, I won't repeat most of their dialogue as you won't actually believe me that this was in the actual book, but the one line which I think summarises how these 2005, college aged, guys speak is:
"Maybe I'll just pick a name for you. Let me think... How's pussycat sound?" Would be rapist, page 8
After Beth beats up her attackers and runs home we then meet our third main character a cop who is called, I shit you not, Butch O'Neal.
Butch O'Neal looked up when the police radio under the dash of his unmarked patrol car went off. There was a male victim, down but breathing, in an alley not so far away.
Butch checked his watch. A little after ten o'clock, which meant the fun was just getting started. It was a Friday night in the early part of July, so the college turks were still fresh out of school and aching to compete in the Stupid Olympics. He figured the guy had either been mugged or taught a lesson.
He hoped it was the latter.
Butch grabbed the handset and told Dispatch he'd head over even though he was a homicide detective, not a beat cop. He had two cases he was working right now, one floater in the Hudson River and a hit-and-run, but there was always room for something else. As far as he was concerned, the more time away from home, the better. The dirty dishes in his sink and the wrinkled sheets on his bed were not going to miss him.
He hit the siren and the gas and thought, Let's hear it for the boys of summer. Page 11
This book is bad. It's really, really, bad and I'm really disappointed.
The character names in this book are just ridiculous, Phury, Zsadist, Rhage, Vishous, it's really jarring and throws out completely out of the narrative when you read names like this.
The characters are the most awfully clichéd stereotypes I've seen since... actually, no, they ARE the most awfully clichéd characters I've ever read.
The plot is dull and underwhelming and overall is reads like an average fan fiction that has rave reviews because it has good grammar and spelling.
I do not recommend Black Dagger Brotherhood: Dark Lover, it really wasn't for me. Personally I'd recommend not reading this book and finding something good to read instead, but if you do happen upon a copy and read it and maybe even enjoy it, then good for you because my copy is being sent to the 'god awful book' box under my bed, where it will live until the day figure out what to do with the crappy books I'll never read again.