“Blurgh! Death loomed (again), and I was grossed out. It was the worst week ever. Again.” ~Queen Betsy
In Undead and Unappreciated, the third book in MaryJanice Davidson’s QUEEN BETSY series, a lot of stuff happens to Betsy — she reads the Book of the Dead and becomes evil for a little while, she hurts her friends, she learns that her stepmother (who she hates) is pregnant, she negotiates with her unionized employees, she discovers that she has a half-sister who is the daughter of the devil, and she admits her feelings for “sin-in-a-suit” Eric Sinclair.
I’ve been half-heartedly enjoying this silly little paranormal romance up to this point but I’m starting to lose my patience, mostly because of a lack of character development. After all that happens to her, Betsy is still the same old snarky shallow selfish brat that she’s been since the beginning. I can understand Davidson’s reluctance to alter her main character — what she’s been doing has been working so far, but at this point the reader starts to wonder why Betsy isn’t profoundly changed by what she’s been through. Also at this point the relationships between the characters should not feel so shallow and immature. For example, I should understand why Eric loves Betsy (this is completely unfathomable) and why Betsy suddenly decides she loves Eric (just because she’s jealous of another woman as far as I can tell). Also, I’ve never felt the supposedly deep friendship between Betsy and her roommates Jessica and Mark. Nobody has anything in common with anyone else and it seems like the supporting characters are there just to provide diversity to the cast (Jessica is black and Mark is gay) and to bankroll Betsy’s new lifestyle. It’s also hard to believe some of the characters’ actions in Undead and Unappreciated, more so than in the previous novels. They all do stupid things and none of them act their age.
I let all this pass in the first two books because the story was amusing and it was early in the series, but now it’s past time for some depth and development. An author of paranormal romance who has successfully taken a shallow ditzy young woman and turned her into an admirable heroine is Karen Marie Moning. In fact, this sort of character development is exactly what makes her FEVER series so good.
Undead and Unappreciated is still funny — the humor is what’s keeping this story together. If you’ve been perfectly happy with the shallow tone of the series so far, you will probably be happy with this installment, too. There’s something to be said for a short silly book that doesn’t tax the brain or the nerves. However, I find that I’m just not that motivated to continue.
I listened to the audiobook version produced by Recorded Books and read by Nancy Wu. She does a marvelous job with Betsy, but I think she makes Eric (a dangerous vampire king) sound wimpy and stilted. I will probably not continue with QUEEN BETSY unless the next audiobook shows up at my library. I’m not willing to pay for the next book, Undead and Unreturnable.