Monday, March 16, 2009

Rant About JR Ward, Blood-Sucking Vampires, and Rockability

Today, I decided to employ a new term for my reviews...rockability.  A great book has a high rockability rating. When I think an author "rocks the house" or "rocks out" then the rockability quotient is right up there.  I get very enthusiastic about certain books/authors, and I also have high expectations for highly rockable authors. JR Ward, master of blood-sucking vampires, got her paranormal series The Black Dagger Brotherhood off to a rousing start.  The early books, especially Lover Revealed (Butch's story) and Lover Awakened (Zsadist's story) are absolutely mind-blowingly good books.  Ward has everything a paranormal fan is looking for....larger than life heroes, a well crafted (if at times dark and violent) world, super hot sex, incredible secondary characters. In fact, this world is so delicious, it is down right addictive (just ask the millions of crazed fans who frequent her website).  Problem is, if you are an author with a lot of rockability, you establish high expectations with your followers.  Rabid followers. Then, you've got to deliver the goods or incur the Wrath (pun intended) of your disappointed fans.  Ward had us going up through book four in the series.  But V's book (Lover Unbound) was a disappointment to me. And Phury's book (Lover Enshrined) made me phurious (sorry, I couldn't help myself). (In a nutshell...lukewarm heroine, crappy romance, horribly disappointing first sex scene after 5 books of self-imposed celibacy for Phury, etc., etc.).  In fact, my friends cringe when I start ranting about Phury's book..."Oh dear God help us, she's starting up about Phury's book again. Take cover!" In Ward's defense, sustaining rockability over the course of a series is tough. Sherrilyn Kenyon was one of my all-time favorite authors for a long time (I adore Dance With The Devil and Night Play), but her "formula" is getting stale, and she needs to jet this series and start something new. Karen Marie Moning started a new series (the Fever series) and they have some serious rockability. 

Lover Avenged, #7 in Ward's Brotherhood series, will be released April 28, 2009.  It is Rehvenge's story.  He is a superb character and is deserving of an incredible book.  Will Ward get back to her winning formula (intense lusty love affairs between kick-ass vampires and women strong enough to handle them equals fabulous reading)? I sure hope so.  I was filled with trepidation about this latest installment until I read the two excerpts from Lover Avenged on her website.  They rocked the house! Oh yeah! I am cautiously optimistic about Rehv's book and am hoping that Ward has gotten back to the best part of this series for romance readers.  Namely, romance.  

I would love to hear my reader's opinions about series that are flailing, and those they think are right on target.  Anyone else excited for Rehv's book? Anyone else thinking about getting a purple mohawk? I am hoping that Ward's rockability has returned with a vhengeance. 

Reeling with Rockability, Penelope


Anonymous said...

I am very excited for Rhev's book and clearly see how when authors excel and skyrocket readers' expectations into the heavens, it is much easier to disappoint them. Although perhaps my expectations don't reach the heights yours do, I know what you mean about series going stale. There are few authors who can keep it going for such a long time without losing some of the magic. I think Jim Butcher does a good job of it, and I am still hooked on Jacqueline Carey's books, although she's more of straight fantasy author so may not be as familiar a name to the romance world. (I think some of the fantasy authors have done an exceptional job of this long series thing in general.) Perhaps the added burden of romance expectations lends more complications in the romance/fantasy hybrid subgenre. As a series writer myself, the idea of going beyond four, maybe five books set in one universe scares me to death. I have the utmost respect for writers who do this on an ongoing basis. But there's something to be said for ending a series and doing it well. Knowing when it really is time to let it go. It must be hard for full time authors to put to rest a successful storyline which has been their bread and butter. I only hope I'm in this terrible position in the future. Meanwhile, I try to send positive energy to all of my favorite series authors so they keep their magic and continue to feed my reading habits with wonderful stories. Great topic, Penelope.
Your faithful fan,

Penny Watson said...

Michelle, thanks for this most excellent response. I have not tried Jim Butcher or Jacqueline Carey, and now you have me intrigued! I am very proud of Karen Marie Moning. Even though some of her fans were not happy with her changing to a new series, it really infused her writing with a lot of energy. I think the Fever books are her best. You can see how a writer needs to rev it up after a long time doing the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I have been an avid follower of Suzanne Brockmann's Naval Seals series, Team 10 and Team 16 as well as her Troubleshooters series. Her books usually always rate a high rockability with me, but recently her last few books have been very disappointing. Her last one, Dark of Night was the hardest to accept. The reader has followed two characters, Sophie and Decker through three or four books with the expectation that these two would eventually get their story and be together, which is Brockmann's usual formula -- keep us waiting and wanting more from these pairings. Well, in Dark of Night, for various reasons, Brockmann chose not to pair this couple. They both ended up with others. It left me with an incredible sense of betrayal and disappointment. I couldn't grasp the new pairings she had chosen and felt she was trying to totally rewrite one character from geeky nerd to Bond hottie, which so didn't work for me. I will continue reading her series, and hoping she returns to her true rockability form. But it does show that even the best authors have tough times sustaining high level stories with the same group of characters book after book.
Interesting discussion and great blog, Penelope!
Another fan,

Penny Watson said...

Vicki, thanks so much for the comment. I am sure that Brockmann felt she was "shaking things up" for the sake of interest, but if those changes did not ring true for you (couple breaking up, character changes) then maybe it wasn't worth it. Something tells me that Brockmann got a lot of enraged fan mail after that book...I bet you were not the only reader who felt betrayed. Isn't it amazing how attached we get to the characters in these books? I fell so in love with the characters in Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series (another series that has gone on a bit too long!) that I used to dream about the characters!