29 September 2011

Review: My Blood Approves Volumes 1-3 (Spoilers)

After Hollowland I was not too keen on reading anymore books by Amanda Hocking. Still, I think that it is perhaps something I am missing in her work that makes it so popular. So, I give it one more chance and take a look through My Blood Approves. The first book is a surprise, if nothing else - the story is interesting and, despite the spelling and grammatical errors, it's easy to get into the story. I purchased My Blood Approves for $0.99 on Smashwords, which is really what the book should be worth. The subsequent volumes are more expensive, however, at $2.99.

My Blood ApprovesFate (My Blood Approves, #2)My Blood Approves (Vol #1) and Fate (Vol #2)
by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From Goodreads, for My Blood Approves
Teenager Alice Bonham's life feels crazy after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave, he's unlike anyone she knows. Then she meets his brother, Peter. Even though he can't stand the sight of her, she's drawn to him. Falling for two guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood.

The premise is nothing new, and really nothing special. I found this series more compelling than the others I've read (Switched, and Hollowland) and found it slightly easier to ignore the spelling, grammatical, and tense errors peppered throughout the book. (But only Slightly.)

One of the big issues I have with the main character is, well, her lack of character. Does Alice have no sense of self preservation? She is so flippant in her constant talk of others killing her, and even asks, dares, or begs others to do it. (In more than one instance.) Okay, okay, it's a romance about vampires, I get it. The main character has to have something odd in her head to want that kind of... relationship(?) - but it gets annoying in its repetition. Alice is just so plain and lacks any real character qualities, aside from passive, whiny, and pitiful. She can't seem to do anything for herself, from driving to cooking - someone else must do it for her. She must be genetically susceptible to the virus of Mary Sue, which seems to plague far more heroines than it should. Tragic, really.

There is also a lot of explaining regarding the brands characters wear. Every single time someone changes clothes, we get a list of brands they are wearing. A description makes sense, but this listing of brand names clothes is lazy and does no help at all. I get the sense the clothing is expensive, but the brands do nothing for me - I shouldn't need to look up brand names to figure out what characters are wearing. Dickies or Converse - just tell me it's a t-shirt, shoes, or pair of shorts, and let's move on.

Within the second book, Fate, especially, I get the impression the author doesn't entirely understand what it means to be gay, and holds onto a number of stereotypes or preconceived notions regarding those who are gay or lesbian. The following line, here..

"He sat on my bed with his back to me, and he appeared to be filing his nails, or something equally gay." - Fate (My Blood Approves, #2)

I found the observation from Alice to be somewhat odd, as many others like it littered throughout the series. Okay, yes, there is a character who is gay. We were told this in My Blood Approves, multiple times. (Awkwardly.) It felt like it was a forced addition, to add some kind of depth to the story... but it really doesn't. It's Alice realizing he's gay and "should've seen it sooner" because of  a list of trivial things that have nothing to do with a person being gay. Nail-filing? Really? That falls under personal hygiene which has nothing to do with a persons' sexual orientation.

Flutter (My Blood Approves, #3)Flutter by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From Goodreads
Being undead doesn't make life any easier for Alice Bonham.

Her younger brother's love life is heating up, while hers is... more complicated. Mae is falling apart, her best friend Jane is addicted to vampire bites, and if Alice doesn't get her bloodlust under control, someone will end up dead. Alice volunteers for a rescue mission with Ezra. But going up against a pack of rabid vampires might be too much, even for him.

The first two volumes are by far the strongest, and Flutter takes a serious nose-dive in comparison. I will not be reading the fourth, which is out now, as I do not feel the series can be redeemed. There are so many repeating phrases that I could not help but start counting their occurrence, while reading, and it really pushes one away form the story. Too often someone speaks "not unkindly" or curls a lock of hair behind an ear, or asks "are you coming with?" The last question I find annoying on its own, but I understand some people do talk that way - especially younger people. I can't imagine a 300-year-old vampire speaking that way. I can't accept every single character in every book (that I have read) by Amanda Hocking speaking that way. That just doesn't work for me.

Anyway, Alice is a vampire now and is even weaker now than in the previous novels. She has no aspirations to become anything more than she currently is and continues to get things handed to her on a platter. She has no drive to do anything with, or for, herself. The world ends without Jack at her side. One would think becoming a vampire would do something to her, aside from make her hot, apparently.

More in the third book than in the previous, I am asking myself questions regarding the direction of the story. Normally I have a sense of a goal, quest, or change that is upcoming. Here, I don't know what Alice's goals are, where she is going, or the point of the story at all. It's getting to the point where it's Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happens. Near the half-way point for the book, I started to skim - we have gone into Angst Alley and there is a traffic jam. The plot is going nowhere. Plot lines are introduced and them completely forgotten or ignored. I began to believe that the sole point of the series is for Alice to have sex with Jack.

(Spoiler in Hollowland to follow)
And when that finally does occur, the scene seems oddly... familiar. It turns out that it is a near copy of the scene in Hollowland, between Remy and Lazlo near the end of the book.

He kissed my mouth, my neck, my shoulders, everything he could reach, and I moaned against him...Gasping for breath, he relaxed, but he propped himself up so he wouldn’t put the full weight of his body on me. He rested his forehead against my shoulder and tried to gain some composure. When he gently kissed my collar bone, my skin trembled underneath his lips. --Flutter (My Blood Approves #3) 

He kissed my mouth, my neck, my shoulders, everything he could reach, and I moaned against him... Gasping for breath, he rested his forehead against my shoulder and tried to gain some composure. When he gently kissed my shoulder, my skin quivered underneath his lips. --Hollowland

And if that's not laziness, a pure lack in appreciation or respect in ones own readers, I don't know what else could be. Is that not an insult to her readers' intelligence and a lack of care in the work she is releasing for them? Is it so difficult to write scenes of characters having sex that you need to copy from one book to another? Nearly word for word? Now I am done with your books, Amanda Hocking. Your laziness and poor quality of work gets no more money from me. Shoddy work is still shoddy whether its trying to eat your brains, suck your blood, or be a troll. Don't waste your time on any of these books. I was willing to forgive a multitude of other short-comings, but this is just pathetic.

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