Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: A Quick Bite

A Quick Bite
A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lissiana Argeneau is celebrating her 202nd birthday with a party at her mother's house. When she enters her room to get a new pair of stockings, she assumes that the man tied to her bed his her gift from her mother... a little bite to eat after the party.

Well, she has it half right. Her mother has "convinced" (through mental coercion) Dr Gregory Hewitt to come to the house as Lissie's birthday gift. But rather than being her midnight snack, he is there to help cure her of her phobia. And it's a bad one for a vampire - Lissie faints at the site of blood.

There's instant attraction between the two, but before either of them can admit it, they have to work through Greg learning about her family, crazy relatives (on both sides) and someone that wants to put a stake through Lissie's heart for being an evil, blood-sucking fiend. No one ever said the course of true love runs smoothly.

I really enjoy this series and was glad to have finally listened to the one that started it all. I'd seen Lissie and Greg in one of the other books I'd read, but I didn't really know their story. And I, for one, thought it was an intriguing one.

One of the best parts of this series is the inventive take on vampires that Sands has taken. Rather than the mystical/magical search for immortality that vampirism is usually portrayed as, the Argeneau series takes a scientific bent in the form of nanites that keep their bodies in peak condition. While she uses fiction getting it wrong to explain away some of the usual vampire "facts", she has perfectly plausible explanations for the ones that she's kept in. Since the nanites are fueled by blood, anyone with the nanites in their system (naturally born or "made") need to regularly replenish the blood in their system. And since sunlight is always damaging the skin cells, the nanites need to work harder to keep the host healthy, which uses more blood and weakens them until they can replenish.

I also like the fact that, in today's world when blood can be stored a la the Red Cross, the Argeneau clan has switched from "feeding off the hoof" (taking blood directly from an unwitting donor) to using bagged blood. And I like how Lissie being unable to use bagged blood (since she can see it through the bag) is the impetus from bringing a human into this world, which gives the reader a chance to learn about the world that Sands has crafted.

The story wasn't perfect. I don't remember a good explanation for the mental powers that the Argeneaus have (though that could just be my forgetting). And there were some parts of the story that I saw coming from the first. But she still managed to throw me a couple times by crafting the store differently than I had expected. For the most part, though, I knew what was coming. (eg. I knew who was behind the staking). But that doesn't always bother me. Because most of the time, it feels like the logical progression.

The writing was ok - not the best I've ever read but far, far from the worst. It was, however, good enough to keep me engaged in the story. And that, for me, is more important than any of the technical parts of the writing.

A word about the audio book edition - readers can make or break a book for me. I've listened to some books that, if I were to read them, I would thoroughly enjoy. But hearing them read by a particular reader destroys my good feelings about the book. I've also listed to some books in which the reader has made the book come even more alive for me. Victoria McGee is the reader for this book and she falls somewhere in the middle. She kept the story moving, didn't break me from the reality of the world and used a few distinctive voices for different characters. But she didn't make me believe that she was each of these characters, as some of the best do. I was very much aware that I was being read to rather than feeling like I was watching the story unfold before me.

I am looking forward to reading or listening to more books in this series. I love finding an unusual take on something that most people "know". And the Argeneau series does just that for the vampire genre.

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