Oh yes Dear Readers, it is rant time once again. Woo! Today’s topic is the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. If you’re also an old school Anita fan then there’s a 99.9% chance you feel the same way I do about the series and what it has become. I’ve had issues with the series for a while now but I have continued to read it in spite of that. I just finished reading Bullet, the 19th book in the Anita Blake series, and my feelings for the series has now gone from annoyance to pure rage.
The series went from having these intricate and thrilling plots, to being nothing more than plot-less erotica. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some erotica, I have entire bookshelves dedicated to a huge variety of it, so I assure you I’m not some prude with sexuality issues. My problem is that the series started out as a paranormal thriller and turned into erotica, it did a massive 180. Fans want change, they want character development, they want plot development, but they do NOT want the series they love so much to be turned into something entirely different, something unrecognizable. At the book store the Anita books used to be in the horror section, they aren’t there anymore, they have been moved to the romance section. Yeah, that says something doesn’t it?
The major problem with the series is that it used to have remarkable storylines and amazing character development. Anita was this badass, independent women that real women could look up to. Now all Anita does is whine and have sex with strangers. That’s not character growth, that’s character decline. The books no longer have strong mysterious plots, in fact, they don’t have plots at all. The latest books have gone nowhere, they haven’t brought the story forward. Instead of pushing the story forward Hamilton does what every author does when they have run out of ideas, she rambles on for pages on end and then she adds new characters. I am so sick and tired of a new group of useless characters being added every book. It turns into the same damn thing every time – Anita meets the new people, she has sex with them, then the book ends and we never hear from them again. Totally pointless.
That’s not where my issues end. Most authors pour themselves into their books – what they’re feeling, their personal hardships, their hobbies and interests, their insecurities and so on and that’s usually wonderful, it gives a book soul and adds reality to it. But in Hamilton’s case, she pours WAY too much of herself into her books, and it’s irritating. Anyone that follows her on Twitter knows that she is obsessed with the gym and working out, which is great, props to her, but was it really necessary to have nearly an entire chapter in Bullet about her character’s workout? No. Who gives a flying fuck if Anita can run around the track a bunch of times? No one. Who cares if she can punch and kick a bag? No one. There was no need to have pages and pages explaining her exercise routine in detail. It was nothing but boring and unnecessary filler. It’s bad writing from someone who has run out of ideas. Also, from what she shows us on Twitter, Laurell is a massively massive drama queen, and that reads in her latest books and it’s not enjoyable. Yes, writing is therapeutic, but you shouldn’t be writing every issue you have into books that have no need for it. Bullet has more drama in it than any of the other Anita books, when the characters aren’t fucking each other, they’re talking about their feelings and it is SO tedious. It’s fantastic in small doses, every book needs it, but when you have chapter after chapter of whiny and moody characters going on and on about their emotions it becomes too much. The vampires and weres in the series went from being badass and scary to being a bunch of whiny bitches.
Laurell K. Hamilton should have ended the series years ago on a high note or at least taken a break from it, instead she cashes in on her success and continues to drag it out. Every new Anita Blake book continues to make the bestsellers list, but it’s not because they’re good, it’s because fans of the old Anita continue to buy the new books hoping that they will be like the first books. But we’re disappointed every time. Part of the problem is Hamilton’s publishers, they give her a deadline, they force her to rush the books and write them as fast as possible. You can even pre-order the books before she is finished writing them! Insane! That means she’s creating forced crap. I’m starting to think that she doesn’t care about her incredible series anymore, she doesn’t care about fans of the old Anita, that she only cares about making more money and making that pretty bestsellers list.
To further prove my point, to give you a peek at how unhappy Anita fans are, let me show you something. Here are the Amazon ratings, the AWESOME first books compared to the horrible newer ones:
As this clearly shows, fans LOVED the first books in the series, they absolutely loved them. But the new books, they hate them, there are hundreds of 1 star ratings. Why? Because the new books are terrible. Someone should show Laurell this, maybe she’ll get the hint.
And so I bring this longwinded rant to an end. Will I continue to read the new Anita Blake books? Probably, because I still hold onto that pathetic hope that one day the books will be good again. It’s lame, but I still hope. Laurell K. Hamilton is a talented writer, those first few books in the Anita series were beyond amazing and they are what made her famous. I just wish she still can reclaim that old spark again because right now she is a withering flame.
I have to agree with you on your assessment. I love Anita Blake! I can’t NOT read this series. For the past couple of books in this series I have felt that something was amiss with Ms. Hamilton’s story. I’m a die hard Anita fan and will probably read every book written, but I believe Ms Hamilton needs to either tell the publishers to fuck off and let her get in touch with her main character OR end the series. I still have Bullet to read, and quite frankly I laid it down and picked up other books because I’m not quite ready for fluff reading.
Thanks for your review.
I haven´t read Anita books, urban fantasy is not my cup of tea, nor are hardboiled “chicks”, but I have read lot of similar comments from the readers: new books have no plot, just Anita having sex.
I think the biggest problem with reading Hamilton’s series is that 180 degree change. I used to hate, hate, HATE everything book 11 and later, where it basically just turned into porn. In all the years I’ve kept reading – and now, as I am currently writing a graduate dissertation on the series – I’ve sort of changed my mind. I still enjoy her books. I mean, they annoy the motherloving crap out of me, but for some reason, you still can’t put them down. It was how I felt about Twilight, actually. (And I’d rather have erotica than silent gazing and handholding for teens.)
I mean, yes. There is a bunch of filler – it happens in many series – the author gets so popular that s/he doesn’t have to listen to an editor any more, and the editors only care about making more money, so the books get bigger and the plots get smaller. It’s like some evil, horrible mathematical fiction rule. Yes, the original action/mystery plots were much more engaging. Her later books include way, way, WAY too much of her own personal life that we don’t need to hear about. Has anyone else noticed that Anita’s total pod-people shift occured between Blue Moona and Narcissus in Chains, and between those books, the author also left her husband and found someone new? Was her new sex life THAT transformative? And thanks to Hamilton’s constant blogging, facebooking, etc (seriously, how does she have time to even write novels any more?) we have come to realise the horrible truth that we kept veiled from us in the 1990s: like Bella Swan, Anita is a total Mary Sue. Her life has way too many parallels with Hamilton’s own, and even their physical descriptions match. Guh.
But if you can divorce the 2000s books from the 1990s ones, as separate series they’re okay. Like her Merry Gentry series… I mean, it’s full of sex, but it’s clearly erotica. If you go into a genre like erotica, you get what you’re expecting. If we had gone into AB expecting the same, all this nonsense about the ardeur would be the actual plot itself. It also has to be acknowledged that there are a number of reviews on Amazon along the lines of “Don’t bother with the first few books, they’re totally boring, there’s not even any sex. It really gets good after book 9.” And, in fact, Hamilton’s erotica is actually pretty subversive, breaking far more heteronormative taboos than any most vampire literature I’ve read (itself a genre where this is the whole point), and way more than most female-written, female-oriented, mass market fiction. Anita’s series openly acknowledges what most other urban fantasy series keep tongue-in-cheek: it allows the heroine to pick and choose between a number of strong love interests who, despite their various powers and status, generally remain subordinate to her wishes. Only for Anita does she get to wear the pants to the extent that she gets to have all these guys at the same time.
However. We didn’t go into this series wanting or expecting erotica. We went in expecting action sequences with a strong, independent heroine. Now those of us who are more interested in the possible destruction of human life by the Mother of all Vampires keep getting that plotline derailed by a whiney, constantly therapising heroine, and the only thing worse than the fact that sex interrupts plot is that every time Anita has sex, we have to spend another 10 pages listening to her JUSTIFY having it.
Hamilton herself maintains that sex IS plot, that her sex scenes are used to develop character. That’s an interesting claim. But personally, I feel that learning to give a gagless blowjob, while certainly improving one’s skillset, is not the greatest development of character and personality.