Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review--Better Off Dead by Danielle Blanchard

Better Off Dead

Book 2 in The Vamp Saga

I can never decide about vampire books--what do I really want out of my vamps? Should they be old school, traditional bloodsuckers that fear the sunlight or should they have evolved and found new ways to break out of the Dracula paradigm. It tends to be a fine line for me. Better Off Dead, book 2 in the The Vamp Saga by Danielle Blanchard takes the vampire mythos into new territory, causing the reader to ponder a whole new kind of bloodsucker.

Here is the synopsis straight from the book:

Welcome to Western Europe in 2020. The International Vampire Council are in the middle of intense negotiations with the Global Six when a mysterious plot is revealed to end Manon's life and thinly veiled lies Mikkel has told his wife will be exposed once and for all. Manon is sent into hiding with Emmerik as her protector while a deal can be negotiated to spare her life. As the clock ticks toward a catastrophic outbreak of new virus which seeks to destroy not only the Lycan population but millions of humans along with it, two ancient vampires return prematurely from their time in the ground, and their mood is less than receptive. What will happen? Who will live? Who will face betrayal? Who will die? Sometimes, the most devastating secrets are better off dead and buried. This novel is not YA friendly, contains plenty of snark, supernatural creatures included, but not limited to, vampires and Lycans, not to mention a few choice scenes of sex and death. It is not for the faint of heart.

At times it felt like I was reading an episode from that 80's TV show, Dynasty. So much drama! So much back stabbing! So much confusion! If Joan Collins had popped up as one of the undead, I would have been in nostalgia heaven. This is certainly the best dressed cast of vamps I've ever heard of, too. Each of them could be a contender during Fashion Week in their Yves St. Lauren outfits!

Blanchard has created a rich and complex vision full of lush prose and interesting new ideas about vampires. I really like the virus idea and thought she gave it a new twist since the vamps intentions are to wipe out other supernatural beings. However, I found it hard to navigate through Blanchard's world even with the help of her character appendix. While the characters are interesting and certainly appealing to the reader, at times it was difficult to keep the names of the vamps and their various genealogies straight. Unfortunately, that presents a problem as so much of the plot relies on the reader understanding the past relationships these vampires have had and how their prior actions continue to affect the dealings of the present.

I also felt that the main character, Manon, was difficult to root for. She's married to Mikkel, a sexy vamp with a secret agenda, but sleeping with his son, Emmerik who despises his father.  She claims to love both and can't make up her mind which one her destiny lies with. Sometimes her debates with herself about whether or not she was doing the right thing slowed down the story, and that's too bad.  If you don't relate or feel empathy for your heroine, it's hard to stay interested.  Personally, I would have picked the son, Emmerik.

Perhaps part of my problem with this book is that it is book 2. Not having read book 1, I really felt like I'd missed a great deal of the action. A strong sequel should have enough info in it for the reader to understand what has occurred prior and still feel like they are seeing a new story. I never really got there with this book.

I gotta say though that I loved some of Manon's thoughts. Here's my favorite: "I surely didn't want my blood tears to make me look like I had been bitch slapped with tampons by a gang of menstruating women."

Now that's just funny stuff!

Overall, I think if you've read book one in this series, Death Wish, you'll have an easy time with Better Off Dead. I think this author has much to offer and I'd like to read more of her work!


  1. Thanks, Shauni! Like I said, I look forward to reading some of this author's other work.