29 dezembro 2011

Review: Spider's Bite (Jennifer Estep)

Publisher: Pocket Books (2010)
Format: Mass Market Paperback | 395 pages
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy
Description (GR): "My name is Gin, and I kill people. They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South — when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.
Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way — good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction...especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy."
WARNING: Contains a few SPOILERS!
The Elemental Assassin series is one of the most popular urban fantasies out right now so I've been steadily buying the books for a while. I've also been afraid to pick them up and be disappointed.

I was. I mean, I understand why people like the series; the heroine, Gin Blanco is likable enough and she isn't exactly a goody two-shoes. She is unusual. But... as I read the story I felt like I had seen this one too many times. Yep, it's a common movie plot: famous assassin gets double-crossed, famous assassin gets angry and famous assassin goes on a punishing killing spree. Nothing new there.
On the other hand I kind of get that this first book is clearly introduction for the rest as the author does tie all the loose ends and the plot follows quite a neat line. It was a gamble to start with this book, but I think Estep was clever. I prefer an entire book about why Gin retires than just an hasty explanation in a prologue.

Still, besides the over-used plot, a few other things bothered me. Like the fact that we are plunged into Gin's world with little to no explanation. What are elementals? How did they come to be? Are they human? How come vampires can withstand daylight and are they turned or just another kind of wizards? Nothing is explained and with vampires going out in daylight and being overall quite human I'd certainly like to know more. Still, this is just the first in a series, so I suppose I can wait. It just bug me that there was no explanation of Ashland's society.

Another thing that bothered me: the romance. It felt rushed and there was no chemistry. Also, why the heck did Estep think it was a good thing to have Gin call the male protagonist by his full name every single time? Really I got tired of reading the words 'Donovan Caine' every other sentence. Gah!

Overall, this book was a pretty standard urban fantasy. There wasn't anything special about story or characters and the world-building was pretty weak. The writing style was engaging and the pace was good but these are mostly the only things to recommend it. Since it is clearly an introductory book I am hoping the series gets better though.

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