Pros: Fascinating world; distinctive style
Cons: Mary Sue-ish main character
Rating: 3 out of 5
Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.
Laurell K. Hamilton’s Flirt (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 18) is the first Hamilton book I’ve read. Really. And book 18 is not an ideal place to start in a series. On the other hand, there are always going to be readers who find out about a series late and perhaps can’t start from the beginning for whatever reason, so I think it’s occasionally useful to be able to give the newcomer’s viewpoint.
I’ll be honest—coming at it from that angle, Anita Blake comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue. Sure, she thinks she has flaws, but the people around her are constantly reassuring her and making it clear how wonderful they think she is, which kind of makes her self-assessment feel like a hastily-constructed sham meant to keep her from seeming like a Mary Sue. Especially given that pretty much every guy she runs into seems to want to sleep with her.
But, as occasionally happens, I’m getting ahead of myself. In this case, however, that’s for a specific reason—the relationships between Anita and her men are clearly the focus of the book, and the plot wasn’t entirely memorable beyond that. It involved Anita refusing to bring a man’s wife back from the dead; her being kidnapped by mercenaries in someone’s employ; a new upheaval in her little “family”; and a wild demonstration of her necromantic powers. While the odd web of relationships in Anita’s grouping are certainly interesting, it’s complex enough that you’ll want to read the preceding books in order to have a greater sense of depth for the characters involved.
I remember hearing somewhere that the early Anita Blake novels are the best, so I wouldn’t judge the series as a whole by this one book. That said, Flirt doesn’t exactly make me want to run out and start the series from the beginning.