18 janeiro 2012

Review: Dante Valentine - Books 4-5 (Lilith Saintcrow)

Dante Valentine: The Complete Series by Lilith Saintcrow
Publisher: Orbit (2011)
Format: Paperback | 1280 pages
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction
Description (GR): "Necromancer. Bounty hunter. Killer. Dante Valentine has been all three in her life. But in the beginning, she was a Necromancer for hire. And while she was choosy about her jobs, there were just some she couldn't turn down. Like when the Devil showed up at the door and offered her a deal. Her life - in exchange for the capture and elimination of a renegade demon. But how do you kill something that can't die? Dante Valentine, one of urban fantasy's hottest series, is compiled into one volume for the first time. Included in this omnibus edition are: Working for the Devil, Dead Man Rising, The Devil's Right Hand, Saint City Sinners, and To Hell and Back.
WARNING: SPOILERS and somewhat ranty review ahead
BOOKS 4 & 5: Saint City Sinners & To Hell and Back

These books are part one and two of the "epic" (not so much) conclusion of the Dante Valentine series. In book 3, Lucifer decided to randomly appoint Dante as his 'right-hand' (read: assassin and/or catcher of rebellious demons), the post held before by Dante's Fallen (read: boyfriend) Japhrimel. At the same time Gabe, Dante's Necromance friend calls her with a request to return to Saint City and help her with an investigation. Chaos (and I mean it, it's plot! chaos) ensues.

The pacing of both books is frenetic and because book 5 is a direct continuation I decided to review them both. They are too similar in plot style and character development, really.

A lot goes on in these books, but mostly it's in Dante's head. She pulls an "Anita Blake" on the readers and spends most of these last two books deciding if she can or can't trust Japhrimel, who is (still) a bastard. So it's kind of a valid question, but Dante is pretty weak willed and it's annoying. Japhrimel with his "trust me and don't ask questions, just do as I say" speech is also annoying; I mean he could have learned, right? His 'beloved' is always telling him that way won't work with her.

Since all this emotional angst is unresolved, much of the books is a collection of Dante's anguished inner ramblings. And then something really bad  happens to our heroine and she's left near madness (really everything happens to Dante. Too much!). So we get to read what's happening through her fractured mind. And maybe that's why the plot seemed so thin, convoluted and really random sometimes. Everyone's plotting and there are plots within plots or so the author would have us believe but in the end it's all very simple: there's a rebellion and since Dante is the 'right-hand' she's being used by everyone. And everyone gets this but her (of course if she did get it, the book would be a lot shorter). It's kind of... annoying?

Overall, I thought the author was just giving us the same old storylines she gave us in books one and two; there was nothing innovative in the last three books and the main characters were pretty aggravating with their attitudes. The plot was thin although the writing was meant to make the reader think it was complex.
Saintcrow did create a passably original and engrossing world and you can tell she had the history of it all figured out, but she only explored a tiny part of it. I'd love to read more about the world although maybe not through Dante. It's a pity the author focused so much on one race of supernaturals when there were so many others to know about. And we never got to understand more about Jado or Abracadabra or the gods.
A nice futuristic urban fantasy series that could have been so much better. The world-building is good but while the main character starts out ok, she turns into an exasperating whiner who can do little by herself. 

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