Bullet begins with Anita slipping backstage at a dance recital. Her former friend Monica forgot the hat for her son’s costume, so Anita brings it to her, and the two women have a bit of a spat. Then, in chapter two, Anita sits down to watch the performance with her various boyfriends and —
When I was a preteen, I used to read the BABY-SITTERS CLUB series. There’s one cardinal rule for reading BSC books: Skip chapter two. Chapter two was where Ann M. Martin always introduced the characters, describing each baby-sitter’s hair color, eye color, fashion sense, backstory, parents’ marital status… This benefited new readers, but once you’d read a few of the books it got repetitive. By the time you were a die-hard fan, not even the prospect of a new outlandish Claudia outfit could make you do more than skim this section.
After finishing chapter two of Bullet, I realized I’d just read a BSC second chapter, except with Anita’s boyfriends substituted for the club members. We learn, yet again, that Micah has green eyes and likes Italian suits, while Jean-Claude prefers leather pants, and Asher’s hair is gold (but not blond, somehow) and so on.
We move on to the ballet, and I will concede that Laurell K. Hamilton is actually not bad at writing dance scenes. But then Anita worries afterward that Jason and Nathaniel (who were in the show) can’t safely go outside in their tights and need to change clothes, because St. Louis is “the buckle of the Bible Belt” and people will think the guys are gay. Two problems with this. One, St. Louis is not even remotely the buckle of the Bible Belt. Two, THEY’RE LYCANTHROPES. I think they’re more than a match for any good ol’ boys who might fancy a spot of gay-bashing.
But anyway, eventually the characters get back to the Circus of the Damned, and the plot returns to the familiar morass of drama, sex, macho posturing, and confusing metaphysics. Continuity has left the building. Characters have undergone huge personality shifts offscreen, and bad editing means things often just don’t make sense. (Anita muses that she’s never been with anyone as long as she’s been with Micah — two years — and then reflects on her six years with Jean-Claude. Asher gets tied up, and a few pages later he’s in chains instead. Nitpicky stuff, maybe, but when there are lots of these moments in one book, they add up.) The usual tics are here, too: things tightening low in Anita’s body, more at home with the monsters than he was, werecats like to cuddle, spilling.
The sad part is, I think Hamilton herself has moments of realizing that the books have become silly, as when Bibiana asks Anita to help her tigers gain special abilities and she replies, “So I what, f*ck everyone into their next power level like some pornographic computer game?” This cracked me up. Because it’s true.
I gave up when I realized that I still had 200 pages left to go and that, quite simply, I didn’t want to read those pages. Why give up now, after weathering Narcissus in Chains’ smuttification and Incubus Dreams’typo storm? My TBR pile has grown, my free time has shrunk, and this badly edited mess is gobbling up time I could spend reading something else. Adieu, Anita.