Friday, August 19, 2011
Surgeons and Vampires: A Review of Lover Unleased by J.R. Ward
I had such mixed feelings about this book when I first read it, and they haven't at all resolved themselves since. Part of me enjoyed the book and part of me is a disappointed. The part of me that likes V, Jane, and Butch is happy to see their story continued and would like to give this book at least four stars. The urban fantasy fan in me is angry because not much happens in the way of progress in the overarching plot. And most importantly, the romantic in me is left unsatisfied by the supposedly central romance.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT
After Payne, Vishous' twin sister, is hurt in a sparring accident Dr. Manuel is called in to operate on her. Manny does everything in his power to fix her medically, but she is still left bedridden. Manny then discovers some unconventional ways of helping Payne get better, and the two begin a relationship of sorts. Meanwhile, V is ten kinds of messed up, and things between he and Jane are not well. A sizable chunk of the book deals with him working through his issues and the two of them becoming more secure together. And Butch...helps with this. The Blay/Quinn subplot continues without much progress. A band of vampire soldiers who once fought under the Bloodletter are introduced. Related to this, there is a serial killer on the loose in the city and the soldiers want to kill him.
Ward's writing style has a kind of ADD that has always bothered me, but really smacked me in the face on this one. This book jumps from subplot to subplot (which almost never fully intersect in the end) to the point where the central plot gets buried. In fact, the central plot (Payne and Manny) probably only occupied 1/4 of the book. This really should have been corrected at some point in the editing process, because the story has a very disjointed feel as it stands.
Who is the main character of this book? You would think it would be Payne. She's interesting, strong, smart, likeable. Focus on her! Her struggles, her healing process, her falling in love, her fighting. Or Manny? He has just as much potential in terms of what he's going through and the world he's been brought into. But they don't seem like main characters because they aren't given much focus. The author seemed bored with them, so I was too. The romance that was there was good, and as I've said there was a lot of potential, but it just never grew into anything worthwhile.
On the other hand, the author was very interested in revisiting V and his issues, which readers are well familiar with. He and Jane had their story already, and a lot of what occurred in this book in terms of V healing should have bee resolved there. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for visiting old characters checking in on their problems. But in this case they stole the show. I enjoyed it, but at the same time it detracted from what should have been the central story. And you would expect V and Payne to spend a sizable amount of time together at least trying to relate, but that doesn't happen too much either.
The other subplots? I couldn't care less. I like Blay and Quinn, I want to see them together, but the drama has worn thin. Just get them together or let them move on. I assume Xcor and the other soldier vamps will be relevant in future books, but their story in this one was pretty anti-climactic. I was expecting some kind of confrontation that never happened, which really annoyed me. And the cop drama/murder thing seemed totally pointless. Again, I assume it was in this book because it will be relevant again later. Fine. But tell a complete story in one book before you worry about setting up for the next one.
I'm a long time fan of this series. Because of that fact, I didn't completely hate this book. It let me revisit some of my favorite characters and did a pretty good job at healing them emotionally. Oh, and I liked the horse subplot and it's relevance to Payne and Manny.
Will I continue with this series? Probably, in a desperate hope that it will get back on track. 2.5 stars for this book.