This is an official review of ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE for Avon Books, but I first had to read HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE to know what was going on. Figured I'd kill two birds with one stone, and review both. There are some spoilers involved here, as I can't talk about book 2 without giving away some things from book 1. Therefore, if you don't want to hear them, continue no further. (g)
HTTG Synopsis: Catherine Crawford "Cat" is half-vampire, half-human and hell-bent on finding and killing her vampire father who raped her mother, resulting in her birth. One night, she runs up against Bones, a vampire/bounty hunter, and ends up being blackmailed into partnering with him. He trains her and teaches her all the "vampire" ways. Brought up to hate vampires, her attraction to Bones confuses Cat -- but she finds herself unable to fight it. Together, they attempt to hunt down a group of vampires that are responsible for the kidnapping and deaths of several young girls.
Okay, let me start by saying that I liked this book. Second, I want to say--I have no idea why. LOL. There are so many things wrong with this book, but for some reason I really, really enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, it's not even close to the worst book I've ever read...it's just that if I were to walk through the book and analyze each scene/event, I'd say I could find reason to fault more of them than not. I guess it's a case of so many wrongs just equal one right for some indiscernible reason.
Let's start with the good:
+ I really like Cat. She's awkward and FUNNY. There were many laugh out loud moments in this book -- her one-liners are KILLER. In some ways, she's really the Maddy of the vampire world. I love that she's so inexperienced and uncomfortable with so many things--especially with her own sexuality.
+ Bones. What's not to love? He's sexy and smart, and he seriously wants Cat. Their scenes together were SO good. (He actually reminds me a great deal of Spike from Buffy...I kept thinking he had to be her inspiration for this character.)
+ The world Frost created is interesting, and the set-up for the relationship between Bones and Cat is fantastic. Instant chemistry and I was enthralled. The paranormal characters--especially the drunken cemetery ghost--were a riot!
+ The pacing. It was a real page-turner that had me running back for more.
- The pacing. While it kept me reading, there was something really strange about the time jumps -- disjointed is the best word I can use to describe it. One scene didn't necessarily flow into the next, and she's big on "two weeks later."
- While Bones and Cat were fleshed out, the other characterizations were glossed over. I can't really say, thinking back, who else was in the book...yeah...coming up blank. Her mother, I thought, would play a big role in the story...but every time she appeared "on stage" she was off so quickly that I didn't get any real sense of who she was other than this screeching banshee who wants her daughter to KILL KILL KILL vampires.
- Parts of this book felt very contrived. Especially the ending. (The bad guy literally came out of NOWHERE...huh? Wtf?) And the decision Cat makes just didn't seem necessary. If the main character can't convince me that she has no way out other than the road she takes, even if that only means she's convinced herself with a well-thought out, albeit delusioned reason, I just can't buy into it. To be honest, the last fifty pages were a real struggle and the book nearly hit the wall on several occasions.
- The sex scenes in this book were okay (definitely better than book 2), but I found Cat's obsession with sex after that first time to be a bit...overwhelming. She was a walking, talking libido afterward and well, yeah...that gets old rather quickly.
- Cat went from this nice, awkward girl who is compelled to kill vampires, to this HARDCORE chick who uses swear words like they're gonna stop making them tomorrow, and who is just SO angry. I found her a little too gritty toward the end. I don't think her characterization before that point supported the sudden change in her. I'm sure people would argue this point with me...but yeah...*shrug* It got to the point where I didn't want to cheer for her anymore. Her actions were extreme and her reasons rather, well, stupid.
Okay, so that sounds like I hated the book...but like I said, I REALLY, REALLY liked it. Overall, I think some things could've been handled better...but there was enough there to make me immediately pick up the second book.
BIG SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!
OFITG Synopsis: When we last left Cat, she had joined a military operation geared toward exterminating vampires. In order to protect Bones, Cat faked his death and left him behind. It's four years later now--Cat is busy killing vampires as head of this military unit, she hasn't had any contact with Bones but still harbors a deep love for him. When she's targeted for assassination, Cat and Bones are brought back together--a reunion she both longs for and dreads.
Okay, this book had all the same issues as the first. The characters were so thinly drawn that none of them stood out for me. The pacing was erratic for the first hundred or so pages -- parts felt very contrived...the list goes on.
Again, however, I really, REALLY enjoyed it overall. LOL. I can't figure this one out, honest.
Cat...well, Cat is one tough cookie in this book. She's just so...BITTER and TOUGH as nails. I didn't really like her much, to be honest. I want back that awkward girl from the first book...the one that had me howling with laughter. She DID get a bit better once Bones reappeared, so that was a welcome relief.
Bones -- Gah, I love him. (Their first "reunion" was AWESOME!!) But... Well, I felt he was a little...wussy. Instead of being angry with Cat for leaving him, he shows up with all kinds of declarations of love. Sweet, but man, I wanted some of the old Bones back. The one who didn't take her sh*t and had that wonderful unruffled exterior. If I heard him say "I love you" one more time to her, I thought I might scream. (g) I know, I know...I can't figure out why that bothers me so much, but it does. I guess I wanted to see him play a little hard to get...I wanted to question his loyalties a bit. I think that would've made things a little more interesting.
The sex in this book needs to be addressed. I have to say, it was all a little too "insert A into B...and C...and D..." for me. I think this is a good rule of thumb for everyone: if you have an _entire_ chapter devoted to a single sex scene, you've gone on FOR TOO LONG. I was yawning by the end of it. There _were_ some good moments, but overall I found it a little too "1, 2, 3...change position...hold...1, 2, 3...change position...hold..." Maybe it's me. I do black out my sex scenes, after all. Mainly because I'm HORRIBLE at writing them. So yeah, this is all a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. (g)
The plot was a little muddled. I didn't feel any real sense of urgency or danger at any point. Everything tied up really well--and easily. No real sacrifices made, no real danger to be found... And the ending was abrupt to the extreme. I turned the page, thinking there was more...but there wasn't. Odd. I think if she had cut it off a couple of paragraphs earlier or added a couple of lines after, it would have resolved quite nicely. As is, it felt a little cut-off mid-sentence.
All of this said and you can bet your ass I'll be in line to pick up the next book.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS!!!!
Maybe it's the vampires...maybe it's just Bones and Cat... I want to see them together, and well, I guess I'm willing to plow my way through the rough patches to get to them.
Overall, it just has that certain sumthin' that makes me want more.
Buy or Rent? Buy.