Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#8--The Host, by Selina Rosen

I'm a total worthless shit, and I misspelled Selina's name not once, but twice. I know how to spell her name, and have for years, but something switched off in my brain and not only did I get it wrong, I didn't catch it to fix it until several days later. No excuse. In penance, I'm going to buy a few extra books next time I see the Yard Dog folks.

Also, if you're interested in the Yard Dog Press books, you can get their ordering information here. You can find copies of the Host on Amazon here, but if you go that route, order a new copy.

And if you really need an explanation for why you should always buy books new from small presses, micro presses, and new authors regardless of how big the house is that published them, I don't think we can be friends.


I really, really wanted to like this book. And I arguably gave it more of a chance than I should have, even after I continued past several points that made me want to hurl the thing across the room. Part of that may be that I'm using the cannonball read as an impetus to finish all of the books I start.

I like Selina Rosen. I love, love, love what she's done with Yard Dog Press. Every time I see them at a con, I pick up a few more books, and some of them have been real gems. So naturally, I was excited when I decided to pick up her Host series, especially with the promise that the vampires were seriously evil and the good guys weren't stupid.

Awesome, right?

And the thing is, I think all the potential for that awesome was right there in this trim little book. It's just...

It was like reading a NaNovel that had been edited once (poorly) for spelling and grammar. The plot was there, the idea was good, the characters at least had the potential to be likable or despicable, depending...

And yet this was missing so very much.

A lot of the writing felt rushed, like she had this great idea and wanted it out as fast as possible so she wouldn't miss anything. Which is a fine way to write a novel. But it seems like she never went back to flesh it out, smooth out the rough edges, and round out the characters. I also wanted to take a red pen to the thing and mark up every time I found a typo, a quotation that hadn't been either opened or closed, or the wrong word in the wrong place.

I can forgive a few typos here and there, especially coming out of a small or micro press, and most particularly when the work I'm reading is good enough to suck me back in.

Also, I hated that so many of the characters had names that started with the same letter. It's something really stupid, but when they're as thinly drawn as this, it makes it that much harder to keep Burt, Bill, Devon, Davil, and Damon all straight.

And for the love of God, if you're really wanting to show that your good guys aren't stupid, please show me. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT actually have one of your characters utter the words, "Good isn't stupid." And really, really try to refrain from doing it twice.

Finally, I thought that all of the not-entirely-subtle "look at how awesome Judaism is, wouldn't you like to be part of it" stuff was kind of weird. Mind you, as an outsider to all of the world's major religions, you could substitute Judaism for Christianity or Buddhism or Islam or whatever and I'd have exactly the same reaction. I guess it's hard to avoid some kind of discussion of faith in a vampire novel, especially when your main character is a Rabbi, but it got a little heavy-handed and obnoxious. I also got kind of annoyed by the trashing on other religions, including Christianity and one character turned into all of the worst parts of paganism in one cliched asshole.

Now that I've shit all over it, I'd like to say again: the idea here was pretty great. I liked the new vampire mythology (or rather, another take on the psychic vampire as opposed to the blood sucking variety). I liked the idea of the host presented in the story, and I did like Tracy, and I got a real kick out of disposing of the vampires by running them through an industrial chipper/shredder and working them into customer's gardens. Ha.

There are two more books in this series so far, and although this one let me down, I'm still going to pick up the next one at the next convention I attend. I'm hoping the second will be better because the first was there to get the origins nonsense out of the way so the real fun could start. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed, and I'm also going to pick up a few more books from some of the other authors, because far more often than not, I find the Yard Dog books to be well worth my money and time.

Up next: Turn Coat

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