Undead and Unemployed: Doesn’t take itself too seriously

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsUndead and Unemployed by MaryJanice DavidsonUndead and Unemployed by MaryJanice Davidson

“Oh. This sucks. This totally and completely sucks. The vampires all hate me and everyone’s trying to kill me!” ~Queen Betsy

Undead and Unemployed is the second book in MaryJanice Davidson’s QUEEN BETSY series. In the previous book, shallow and too fashionably-conscious Betsy died, came back as a vampire, and managed to kill the vampire queen, which makes Betsy the new queen. Her roommates and friends are determined to make sure Betsy gets the kind of royal treatment she deserves, but Betsy has no interest in fulfilling her exalted role. She just wants to work at her new dream job as a salesperson in the shoe department at Macy’s. But when someone starts killing vampires in her city, her consort Sinclair insists that Betsy do something about it.

As I mentioned in my review of Undead and Unwed, the first QUEEN BETSY book, I didn’t expect to like this series. I picked up the first book only because it was on sale at Audible. I was surprised that I liked it after all — I thought it was cute and funny — so I said I’d pick up the next book when I found it on sale. And it did, so here I am.

Betsy is finally getting used to her undead state, though she’s still really squeamish about drinking blood and she doesn’t know what to think about her sexy consort. Betsy’s a shallow person with a genuinely good heart (when she decides to listen to it). Her previous life was simple and silly and her biggest problems involved deciding which shoes to wear. She’s had a hard time transitioning to her new undead life. But even though Betsy seems like an airhead most of the time, she’s actually pretty smart and she can be tough when she has to be. And since she’s got some major vampire superpowers, that means she can be deadly.

The plot of Undead and Unemployed is simple, the characters are props (e.g. sexy hunk, rich black girl, gay doctor), it’s obvious who the bad guy is, and the romantic tension is silly. But that’s kind of the point. The best thing about the QUEEN BETSY series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It basks in its shallowness and glories in its insignificance. And in doing so, it’s genuinely funny. The second best thing about the series is that the books are short. MaryJanice Davidson seems to know exactly when to stop. She knows when we’ve had enough snark.

The audiobook is a fun way to spend 7½ hours. Nancy Wu is an excellent narrator — she’s got Betsy’s voice just right. It took her a bit to warm up to the role in book one, but here she is flawless. Book three, Undead and Unappreciated, was on sale, too. I need a little break from Betsy, but I’ll be back.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. Somehow this doesn’t seem like it would be your thing…isn’t it funny how sometimes something different comes along and it isn’t really our thing…but it works anyway!

    • Hi Maria, you’re right that it’s not usually my thing. Unfortunately, all the shallowness got to me by book 3 and I probably won’t continue with the series. :(

  2. That’s what usually happens…at least to me.

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