Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book review: Blood Hunt by Christopher Buecheler

Blood Hunt (II AM Trilogy #2)Blood Hunt by Christopher Buecheler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christopher Buecheler's The Blood That Bonds was one of the first books I downloaded on the Kindle I got for my birthday, October 2010. I was hungry for more vampire stories, after building my (mostly-defunct) career around being a "Twilight Librarian" (hey, if it got kids reading I was all for it...). Blood that Bonds had an atypical  heroine in Two Majors-- she was a heroin addict whose prostitution brings her in contact with vampire Theroen. I fell in love with the scrappy Two (though her name drove me crazy...I kept reading it and thinking, "two whats?") I didn't care so much about Theroen, but I was fascinated by the life he led with Abraham, Melissa/Missy and Tori. Blood that Bonds ended all too quickly and I was definitely wanting more.

I immediately sought out Buecheler's website so I could see when the sequel to Blood would debut and was dismayed to find out that Buecheler was taking his sweet time with the next installment.  How dare he not hurry through his work so that I could get my fix! I went on to other vampires of various sorts, but Two was always in my back of my mind.

So I was doing the happy dance when I found out recently that Blood that Bonds' follow up was out-- Blood Hunt. Let me tell ya-- it was worth the wait! Long-suffering Two was back, and this time we learn more about her through the vampire world-- and the friends she has tried to leave behind.

Let me get to what I loved about Blood Hunt. I love vampire lore and I really like how Buecheler bends the rules of the typical vampire story. And let's face it-- you gotta break from the tired old vampire dogma that states that vampires can't be out in the daylight or they must kill their victims to be satiated, yada, yada, yada (Stephenie Meyer only gets a 1/4 pass, though, for coming up with that sparkly vampire shit. Ugh!) Buecheler takes us to new places with Two, who has (mostly) reverted to her formerly-human self.  Two seeks a return to the "life" by seeking out a bloodsucker that would bring her back into the vampiric fold.

This is where my second love in this book comes in-- vampire politics. Ah, if only a vampire would run for the Republican nomination (now that we've lost both Donald Trump and Herman Cain in next year's election)! I'm convinced that Obama is a zombie-- so having a vampire enter the race would make this all the more interesting. But back to Blood Hunt. I like that we get to find out about the vampire caste system here, and Buecheler does a splendid job of establishing the various vampire worldviews. Abraham, the big baddie from BtB is ever-present in the decisions the American vampire council must grapple with, and we get to meet the movers-and-shakers-- namely, Naomi, Jakob, Malik and Stephen (who provides an outsider-insider's view). The little anarchist in me was thrilled that there were dissidents-- I was mildly sympathetic to the plight of the Burilgi, but per usual, their leader is batshit crazy (but hey, that's way of subalterns, no?).

Ah, now we come to the characters. This is where Blood Hunt shines for me. My love of Two grew in this one, but then she does fulfill all my spunky girlcrush needs. I love that we got more of Rhes, Sarah and Molly in this one, too. I especially like how Sarah speaks her mind and how we are brought into her pain over her blindness. Sarah's contribution to the captives finding their way out of the Burilgi mess? Love that she was essential and not just a victim because of her "disability." Ah, and the proposal-- be still my little unconventional-proposal heart! If dire circumstances don't solidify your union, nothing will, and boy, do Rhes and Sarah find themselves in a case of the dires! Oh, and Molly seems to be shaping up as a mini-Two, and I hope we see more of her in the next book.

As far as other characters are concerned-- we've seen the human-despising vampire female before, but I really admired Sasha, here, and want more of her. Stephen-- could not get enough of him (Buecheler, I know you are wrapping up this trilogy, but I need Stephen's full backstory. Pronto! Get on it!). The Ancient and near-Ancient are represented by Ashayt and Eadwyn (I adored his wackadoodle riddling). The stories of Ashayt, Eresh and the other ancients are somewhat reminiscent of the originators in Anne Rice's early Vampire Chronicles series-- but I don't mind this (what if all these vampire folklorists came together and spun one giant tale that incorporated various elements from all their tales...hmmm...).

I should probably touch on the romances. Unrequited love figures prominently into the lives of several characters. We still feel Two's despair from losing Thereon in the first novel, and I found my self rooting for her to find new love and move along. Naomi, though? Bleh! Haven't we seen the wimpy, clingy female vampire before? I get that she, too, has suffered the loss of loved ones-- but geez, girl, it's been a few hundred years-- get over it! And ok, I'm really getting old(er), because I was kinda happy there wasn't one sex scene after another. There was just enough boot-knocking to keep me happy, and Buecheler imbues intimate moments with just the right amount of heat and emotion between the characters (I feel that a lot of male authors simply fail at this--sexist, I know...  but kudos to Buecheler!)

Ok, let's move on to what didn't work for me. This was the perfect vampire story to me-- for the first 90% of the book. When Blood Hunt doubles back to relay the events that lead up to the rescue attempt of the captives, the tale started to loses steam. When the rescue team shows up and they each, in turn, step forward to reveal themselves, it seemed kinda corny. The ending was starting to feel a little too twisty  and drawn out (and while I'm not entirely happy with how it ended-- I can understand where Buecheler was taking the story, and that makes enough sense for concluding the trilogy). I wish I cared about Tori. I really didn't care about her in the first book, and I care even less about her in this one-- and she's essential to the plot of the last book in this series, The Children of the Sun. I am on-board until the very end of IIAM, but I wonder if Buecheler will bring something fresh to the vampire-hunter theme. I certainly hope so. Tori is (understandably) emotionally vacant (and physically, too, I might add) throughout  Blood Hunt, but I'm going to need a whole lot more from her character to hold my interest in the next book.

As I stated in the beginning, Blood Hunt was worth the wait. Buecheler does a fine job with this sophomore effort. He does an excellent job of breathing new life into this sub-genre and Two and most of her fellow sojourners are interesting, likable characters.

Buecheler, I'm going to be keeping an eye on you on Twitter. Don't be a-tarrying-- hurry up and finish Children of the Sun. Like Two in Blood that Bonds, I need a vampire to come along to cure my addiction, and that ain't happening anytime soon, so, yes, get on with it!

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Emme, Thanks very much for the review! I've tried to reply to your feedback form submissions, but I get a "this email address doesn't exist" error. If you'd like, email me at my three initials (my middle name is William) at my domain (


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