Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison

My rating: 4 stars

I almost put up the summary of this book from Amazon until I realized it was ridiculous, even mentioning the main character's ability to "tangle with a cunning demon or two" when the book only has one demon. Oy.

Therefore, I give you my own summary:

Rachel Morgan, witch bounty hunter extraordinaire, no longer has a price on her head in this second book of The Hollows series.  At least, not in the same sense: This time there's a serial killer out to murder witches in horrific ways... all of whom have talents similar to what Ms. Morgan seems to be developing.  With intriguing information about her friend/roommate/coworker Ivy's vampiric relations, Rachel's family and past, and who the heck Trent Kalamack is, this book is a definite step up from the first book in the series.

The author definitely improved her game for this book after the good-but-also-disappointing beginning to the series.  The writing is more focused and solid, and for that I am most appreciative.  Like the first book, the plot and action kept me reading, but this time it didn't meander as much as the first book did.  There is a serial killer to catch, and while the previous mysteries are still open (who/what Kalamack is, what happened to Rachel's dad, etc.), they aren't in the forefront.  A lot of these mysteries still aren't solved by the end of this book, similar to the first book, but at least we're given some information and I don't feel like I was left hanging, and for that reason I'll keep reading the series. 

But of course, I have to have some complaints. ;)  [WARNING: A few possible spoilers ensue.]  The main one being Rachel as a character.  For the most part, she's an understandable, relate-able character... but then she has her moments when she's not.  For one, her constant forgiveness of her living-vampire roommate, Ivy, is perplexing.  Like in the first book, Ivy constantly comes close to killing Rachel (in a literal, non-figurative way), who then constantly makes excuses for Ivy's behavior after the fact.  I don't get it.  I understand that Rachel likes Ivy, that when she's not a psycho she's a good friend; but they could be good friends who don't live together, since the close quarters are essentially what drive Ivy to near murder.  If this weren't a worry, they would be fine.  I just don't get it. 

Then there's Rachel's sophomoric moments that make me want to smack her.  Most visibly, one of these moments occurs when Rachel is participating in the police investigation of the serial murders and wants to see a crime scene.  They tell her to wait, they need to document/photograph/do police stuff first, or else the crime scene could be considered contaminated and the guilty party could get off scott free.  So what does she do?  Sneaks in to see the crime scene while they're working on it and gets in trouble... and then yells at everyone who's angry with her and pouts about the fact that she's in trouble.  And on top of this, she never feels guilty for having possibly ruined the investigation.  Really?  I can understand the morbid curiosity, but never once realizing what she's done wrong (when it is entirely obvious to the reader) doesn't make any sense.

However, even with those complaints, I still really enjoyed the book.  I want to know what happens to every one of the characters and I want to find out more about their backgrounds, as well as about the fantastic world the author has created, and that's impressive.  One warning I will add for the queasy: this book is gorier than the last (almost surprisingly so).  But when you're dealing with a supernatural serial killer, I suppose that's to be expected.

Next up in the series: Every Which Way But Dead, Book #3.

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