Posted in Nitpicks

Professional Fan fiction: Where it started, and where it is now

From the beginning of time, we’ve had some amount of appropriation taking place within stories. There is nothing new under the sun after all. Even when storytelling was a strictly oral form of communication, it wasn’t surprising that there were very common overlapping themes.

For a long time reading and writing were restricted to the well to-do and the clergy. But with the rise in literacy in the 19th century, as well as the advances in technology that allowed for true mass-production, we saw the emergence of companies that aimed at the lowest common denominator.

The first instance of this within the 19th century was probably the penny and dime novels, better known as penny-dreadfuls. The stories were uninspired, sensationalized or melodramatic, and sometimes blatant rip-offs of existing works. They were made cheaply and sold for a penny (or dime) each.

While they had a bad reputation at the time, they also had a very high consumption rate. For the more educated masses, it was the literature they could afford, and that they found entertaining.

This point I want to pause on. A lot of people take for granted how liberating reading is. No really, even the semi-literate have a huge advantage over the completely illiterate. Before literacy rates began to rise, people had to take certain things for granted. With the majority of the masses illiterate, that means you have only an elite few who act as the gatekeepers of information.That means that these gatekeepers can control the flow of information at their leisure.

With the masses able to consume literature and information for themselves, you have a public which can come to its own conclusions about current events, literature, etc. The consumption of literature, even crappy literature, is a good thing. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to riff on literature that doesn’t live up to its potential, but even reading crap is better than reading nothing at all.

The penny and dime novels began to wane in popularity around the start of the  20th century. There to take their place was pulp fiction. Pulp fiction was primarily an American phenomenon, though there were several pulp magazines that became popular in the UK. The first pulp magazine was published in 1896, and the market continued to be profitable until the 1940’s. Pulp fiction shared a lot of similarities to the penny and dime novels. It was overly sensationalized literature that was printed on cheap paper.

Now, that’s not to say that pulp fiction was entirely bad. It was popular enough that there was a lot of recognition to be had from writing a story for a pulp magazine. Authors like Agatha Christie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.P. Lovecraft, and H.G. Wells wrote for or got their start in pulp magazines.

That goes back to my previous point that stories (like fan fiction) that appeal to the lowest common denominator, and indulge in overused tropes are not inherently bad. They are a stepping-off point. Just because you start in a market that is formulaic does not mean that you have to stay there. Growth is key when you are an author.

After the market declined for pulp fiction, a rather infamous name stepped in to fill the void. When I think of mass-produced form writing at its worst, I tend to think of this company. In 1949 Harlequin enterprises was born.

Harlequin held the monopoly for romance novels until 1970’s when their penchant for hiring only British writers backfired. Competitive companies began hiring American writers, and quickly began to pull ahead of Harlequin in sales. Realizing the mistake Harlequin began to hire American writers as well.

Though I’d argue that its popularity has waned in the 2000’s, plenty of Harlequin books are still sold every year. Harlequin is what most people think of in terms of romance, and I think that’s a bit sad. For the most part Harlequin romances have cookie-cutter plots, rely heavily on character archetypes, and are very cliche.

They are what my mother used to call “potato chip books.” Easily consumed, mildly palatable, but not very good for you. I’d say that this description fits most of these lowest common denominator markets. If you’re not a discerning consumer, your standards aren’t high and you end up clogging your arteries with junk.

So how does this relate to the present? Well with books like Fifty Shades of Grey you have a book that is guaranteed readers. Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction. The characters are soulless replicas of Bella and Edward, with the added bonus of smut.

In terms of marketing, its a win. All you have to say is that it’s a good read for Twilight fans and you have buyers. Why would publishers go for something untried and untested when they can publish something that is guaranteed to sell?

Almost is a One Direction fanfic. The author has made six figures on a fan fiction about a boy band. Now that’s depressing. And scary, if this is the future of publishing.

The only way that we can stop it is to take chances, and make good literature popular. And how do we do that?

Read. Decide for yourself what you do and don’t like, and don’t be swayed by public opinion on what is good. Create your own standards, or write something in the same vein as what is popular, but make it better.

Alright, join me next time when I’ll be discussing character building.

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Posted in Nitpicks

Professional Fan Fiction

Today I want to discuss authors who get away with publishing, what is essentially fan fiction. Sometimes literal fan fiction in the case of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Is fan fiction bad? Actually no. I believe fan fiction is an essential step on the road to becoming an author. Fan fiction allows the potential writer a chance to build a creative process, their own style of writing, and a peer group. Fan fiction is a relatively safe environment to begin writing.

It’s very difficult to build a world from the ground up. There are so many choices to make, characters to build, and rules to govern your world. It’s far easier to start in a place of familiarity, like established fandom.

With a few exceptions, most fan fiction is going to be a half-baked idea with characters who are wildly OOC. A lot of fan fic authors will put the story up without revision. Which is fine, since it’s fan fiction, and their reputation as a writer isn’t really under fire.

So no, I don’t think fan fiction is bad, if you’re using it as a tool to become a better writer.However once you take the step and decide to become a serious author you obviously have to leave the world of fan fiction behind you, right?

Well, no. Not according to some authors, and some genres. There are people who make a ludicrous amount of money selling a story that is barely edited, poorly constructed, and with characters who are completely soulless. And then these authors get the idea into their head that because it has sold, it’s literary genius, and they should continue to write.

I’m starting a series of articles to address why I think this phenomenon occurred, and why it really needs to stop.

Posted in Recommended Titles

Recommended: Creepy Kids Books

I don’t know about you all, but I was a creepy kid. I loved scary/creepy books when I was young. I still do, to a point. That’s why I’m writing this article. From the mildly creepy, to the downright scary stories, I’m going to list some of my recommendations. Whether you’re looking to spook your little ones around Halloween, have a kid who likes such things, or want to read it yourself,  here’s some children’s books to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Anything Written by Eva Ibboston 

Ah, Eva Ibboston, may you rest in peace. I cannot stress enough how much nostalgia I have for these books. They were just so good. Not all the ones listed are incredibly creepy, and in the context of the rest of this article, the books are bit tame. I like the off-beat humor, and the world building that Ibboston brings us. For a child some of these concepts are rather creepy, especially the ones in Which Witch? and Dial-A-Ghost. I highly, highly recommend these books for both adults and children.

Goosebumps

Goosebumps books were a staple for a lot of kids when they first came out. Even now, they still remain fairly popular. Why? Because a lot of the monsters and concepts are timeless, and scare us still. Plus all that campy goodness.

Goosebumps plays with horror tropes in a way that is fun and can keep children on edge. I was never seriously scared while reading one, but I know plenty of people who were. It’s full of jump scares, and mildly creepy concepts. Goosebumps is a fairly easy read, and I recommended if you or your child like mixing your horror with 90’s cheese.

American Chillers

Much in the same vein as Goosebumps, American Chillers is 90’s camp at its finest. The book titles always use alliteration, and center around a mythical monster/creepy animal. It’s not a particularly long read, and it’s a lot of fun.

Bunnicula 

I loved Bunnicula as a kid. I have always been a big fan of vampire stories (yes, I know, shame on me. How very cliche of TheGrandHighMarySue.) It was a form of vampire literature that hadn’t been done much up to that point. It’s cute, it has a decent amount of suspense for a kid’s book. The book is also less than a hundred pages long, for those who would like to read a short book.

 Bruce Coville Books

Both series I’ve read by this author (The Magic Shop books and My Teacher is an Alien) are funny, while having some creepy/scary elements to them. My Teacher is an Alien is more irreverent tonally, and is much like Goosebumps and American Chillers. 

The Skull of Truth was more serious, and was very enjoyable despite that. The main character interacts with a skull throughout the book and it’s presence makes it so he must always tell the truth. It causes some awkward moments, as well as heartwarming ones. I recommend both series for adults and kids alike.

Coraline

Now we’re getting to the disturbing stuff. Coraline has gotten more hype since it’s movie release, but is still a rather underrated book. There is a lot of disturbing imagery and concepts in Coraline. The atmosphere is very spooky, and the resolution to the story is great. I recommend it for children who are in upper elementary or higher.

The Witches 

I personally never found The Witches that scary. Apparently I’m in the minority on that. Roald Dahl seems to have a thoroughly middling effect on most readers. Some readers really like the tone and word-building, others hate it. The Witches is well-known but not always well liked, since there were accusations of “perceived misogyny” in his work.

The movie of the same name actually has a happier ending than the book. So read it if you like, and let me know what you thought of it.

In a Dark, Dark Room and other Scary Stories

This is an anthology of different ghost stories and some poems. A lot of the stories are classic horror fare, like the ghostly hitchhiker. It’s not incredibly scary, but it is a good introduction to scary stories for young audiences.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I loved this series. The books are about as dreary as one would expect, with a name like A Series of Unfortunate Events. Despite the tone, these books are actually fun. There is some dry humor, and young readers will feel clever for understanding the vocabulary (and even if they don’t, they will certainly learn a lot of vocabulary while reading the series.)

There are a lot of interesting settings in the book, and Count Olaf’s schemes to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune get more and more ridiculous as the series goes on. It’s very entertaining, though I understand the tone and content might not be for everyone.

Oh, and bonus. Timmy Curry is the voice actor for the audiobook series.

The House called Awful End

This book series had a very interesting sense of humor. The premise that starts the ball rolling is sort of funny, and things get worse and worse for poor Eddie as the series goes on. It’s similar in tone to A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Eddie Dickens Trilogy is a little simpler and could be read to younger children.

Never Trust a Dead Man

I vaguely recalled reading this book in junior high. And the premise is creepy. It starts off with a murder. Our main character Selwyn was competing with a fellow teen boy Farold for the love interest. When Farold turns up dead with Selwyn’s knife in his back, the village passes sentence on Selywn. Even though he is innocent of the crime, he is trapped in a tomb with the bodies of the dead, including Farold’s corpse.

A witch comes in to the caves to get dead bits from the corpses and Selwyn swears himself to her service in exchange for her magical help. She revives Farold’s soul in the form of a bat and they try to solve the murder. It’s a really fun mystery, and has a really creepy tone. I recommend this series for kids and adults.

Scary Stories to tell in the Dark

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is one of the best kid’s horror books of all time, in my opinion. Why? Because it can still give me the heebie jeebies now. As an adult. A lot of these stories were based on tall tales or urban legends.

And if the content wasn’t enough, the illustrations are also incredibly creepy. A lot of the faces look like they belong in The Hills have Eyes. If you get this book, get the original copies. The new illustrations are tame and take away some of the punch of the first edition.

The Ghost and Mrs. Hobbs , The Ghost of Fossil Glen

Both of these ghost stories had me on the edge of my seat when I was reading them back in the day. They are well-paced, and the books maintain a creepy and suspenseful atmosphere throughout. The mysteries are good and the themes they touch on are good. I recommend these books for all ages.

The Dollhouse Murders

This book scared the hell out of me. I never owned a dollhouse, but I’m sure if I did I would have tossed it out after this book. Our protagonist finds an old dollhouse in the attic and discovers that it used to belong to her aunt.

After hearing sounds from the attic for awhile, the protagonist discovers that the dolls in the dollhouse reenact a scene every night. The grizzly murder that occured in the house years earlier, of which there were only two survivors.

The book will be scary to adult and children, though for different reasons. I highly recommend this book. I also highly recommend sleeping with the light on afterwards.

Wait Till Helen Comes

Wait Till Helen Comes touches on many troubling subjects, least of which is the ghost. The book centers on our main character Molly, and her struggles to accept her new step-sister Heather. With their parents recently married, and the family relocating, this book captures what a struggle sudden upheaval can be for children.

While the ghost elements can be scary, most of the drama and suspense are found in the real-life troubles that are going on in Molly and Heather’s life.

And a bonus:

Edgar Allen Poe

I was a weird kid. Yeah, in fourth grade I was tested, and I had a higher reading level than many of my peers. I was incredibly proud of it, and so I spent more and more time reading, trying to do even better. I really enjoyed Poe. My personal favorite was The Fall of the House of Usher. This might be a little beyond some children’s reading level, but it’s worth a try.

Or you can let them wait until high school, since it’s highly likely they’ll have to read some of Poe’s work, one way or another.

Alright hat was all I could think of. Let me know in the comments if you have a book I didn’t list that you’d like mentioned. Thanks!

 

Posted in Recommended Titles

Recommended: Harry Potter

Yeah, yeah I can hear the eyeballs rolling now. Of course this is a no-brainer. Of course Harry Potter is on a recommended titles list. Almost all of you out there have probably read at least one book in the series by now. It’s a favorite for good reason. I’m just going to state a few of those reasons here, and tell you why I recommend it.

The Harry Potter series predates the Twilight series by eight or nine years (depending on the UK or US publishing date). I mention Twilight only because it largely owes it’s success to the Harry Potter franchise. And that’s by no means an insult to Harry Potter. It opened the doors wide open, letting many authors through who otherwise would have had a more difficult time getting their work published. (Sometimes you can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. I’m grateful for all the good books it gave us.)

Before Harry Potter, many publishers were reluctant to take a chance on YA fiction. It was considered a niche market. I said in my first chapter review of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea that Twilight was the pioneer in YA paranormal romance. I want to make a distinction between that, and what Harry Potter accomplished. Rowling was the pioneer for YA in general. Before that most of the options were mostly, aim lower (at children) or figure out a way to make it more adult.

Harry Potter’s premise is relatively simple. The “chosen one” storyline is not really all that original, but it is what Rowling does with it that really makes this series great. Harry Potter is not a deconstruction per se, but unlike many magical boy narratives, it does make being the chosen one sound like it can really suck.

The story is well thought-out and it’s world-building is excellent. Its world-building is so good in fact that Rowling has been able to make a profit on selling school books that appeared in the text. Her world is that detailed and interesting.

The pacing is really good for the most part, and the story rarely drags. Overall her craft is good.

And the characters? Great as well. Our main leads are very believable, and its a lot of fun to see them grow and mature over the course of the series. More importantly, they have very real and human flaws which make appearances in the book regularly. It goes a long way in making them characters the reader can sympathize with. Even our secondary characters are great.

If I had one criticism of the series, it would have been the fact that she had the opportunity to flesh out Slytherins as a whole, and didn’t. With the exception of Slughorn, most of the Slytherin characters are thuggish, selfish, cowardly, or untrustworthy. Ambition doesn’t equal evil.

Overall though? I can’t complain. Harry Potter is a good read, and I highly recommend it. Ten out of ten.

Posted in Recommended Titles

An update+new page announcement

Alright folks, a lot has been going on with my extended family lately. I won’t go into details, but it’s been difficult. Its a challenge to slog through bad literature on a good day, but recently I haven’t had the heart to continue my reviews. I know you deserve content, so I’m starting a new section and will hopefully at least be able to produce more content a week this way.

Without further ado, welcome to Recommended Titles. Some of these I herald as great literature no matter what the intended audience, but some are my own personal favorites. I’ll be marking those as Blogger’s Guilty Pleasures. I largely read YA fiction, but I have a few favorites that fall in both children’s and adult series respectively.

I’ll attempt to update this page regularly, and I’ll try to justify why I think these books are worth buying (or at least checking out from the library.)

See you then!

Posted in Reviews

DADBS: Chapter Four

Violet spends the first three pages of the chapter missing her parents and her dead grandmother. I’m not saying it’s wrong per se, but it goes on for quite a bit, and it really doesn’t contribute much.

She, Sunshine and Luke find River washing dishes and ask if he would like to go into town and buy groceries. Violet says that Luke treats all women the same (because he’s a misogynist, get it? Complex men don’t exist except for River!) but that he either ingratiates himself to men he respects, or condescends to the ones who intimidate him. Violet’s hate for her brother really gets wearing, because it hardly ever lets up. There is clearly a lot of resentment and as of yet, I see no reason for it within the text.

Luke asks if River lifts weights, and would like to be his spotter. Not too bad, I suppose.  But he prefaces it with something stupid.

“I need someone who can drink whiskey without whining.”

                First of all, none of them are legal. At all. Not even remotely close to legal drinking age in the U.S.  If this were set in the U.K. or somewhere where the drinking laws were different, I wouldn’t have this quibble, but it’s set in the U.S.

I know plenty of people don’t wait until they are old enough to drink, so it’s only a minor thing. However, it’s implied in the later chapters that Luke regularly drinks, and not in a purely social setting. He drinks a lot and drinks to get drunk. Luke is a budding alcoholic. That’s actually kind of sad, when you think about it.

Luke does have some justification for being this way. His mother and father constantly abandon him, his grandmother recently died, and it appears that Violet has hated him from a very young age. He’s doing what he can to cope. It’s been postulated that some people use sex and relationships as a coping mechanism for depression. Violet does nothing at all to help her brother, even though she knows he’s struggling. I don’t see Violet as the victim here.

But let’s not focus on that, River’s making a “joke.”

“Yeah,” River said. “I just plugged in the fridge. I need some food. Hence, I’ll come with you to the grocery store.”

               

                Seriously. It wasn’t funny the first time. It’s not funny now. It’s ridiculous and forced, and just all around terrible writing.

They start to walk to Echo. They could have taken River’s car since, you know, it has a trunk in which to store groceries, but no. We won’t get the plot of this chapter if we’re driving.

Violet actually hasn’t fallen for the “omg I’m so insecure” cliché that Twilight so often does. Violet more or less has made her peace with being the way she is, and that alone makes her a superior character to Bella.

I recognize that the teenage years are the ones where you feel most self-conscious, but it wasn’t really an established part of her character up to this point. So the fact that she gets so insecure around Sunshine, and begins to describe in detail all of her physical features, is a little jarring. And it’s not even done in a way that implies she’s unhappy with Sunshine for being a flirt. It’s just there to juxtapose Violet against another woman.

As they’re walking they pass an old railroad tunnel. I think Tusholke could have gotten away with making it a mine of some sort, because that’s essentially what it is. A railroad tunnel has to emerge somewhere. Violet says this one ends in a cave in. So it could have just as easily been a mine.

What keeps most people out of the tunnel is a rumor about an old lunatic who supposedly lives inside.

“The story’s been going around since we were kids, maybe longer.” I said. “There was man named Blue Hoffman, who went to war and killed people. It made him crazy.”

                Clumsy, story, very clumsy. Yes, war can make people unbalanced, but by the time you were born, and maybe even a little before PTSD was becoming better known and was being treated. I hate, hate, hate it when books try to pass of their character’s bad decisions or a villain’s evil as the result of a mental illness. It’s such a cop out and it perpetuates stereotypes about the mentally ill that just aren’t true.

Only a very small percentage of people with mental illness are violent. In most cases the person suffering is much more of a danger to themselves than to anyone else. Most people with PTSD are not violent, and are not a danger to society. But from all the books, tv shows and movies out there spreading this sort of thinking, you’d think that everyone with a mental illness has a pickaxe in their closet they’re just itching to use.

Anyways.

“He came home, and then kids started disappearing. The cops finally went looking for Blue, but by that time, he’d disappeared too. They never found the missing kids. They say Blue lives deep in the tunnel and keeps the missing kids as slaves, and they never see the sun, and they run around like bats in the dark, and they’ve gone practically blind, and they live on raw rat meat, and they’re all mad as the devil.”

                Where to begin? Alright, first this is bullshit, as we’ll come to find out soon. Secondly, what the hell was he doing in the caves with the kids? What sort of labor is he having them do? Unless he’s got a labyrinth of caves like Jeb in The Host, then logically wouldn’t you think they’d need to come out? And all the kids plus Blue would have died long before they’d had the chance to go blind. There would have to be a whole hell of a lot of rats to feed an adult human and many children for even a week. And the human body can only live for so long without water. It’s a tunnel, unless it floods regularly with fresh water, all involved would have died of dehydration. I know it’s an urban myth but this book wants us to take it seriously, like it’s somehow plausible.

River asks Sunshine to accompany him in. She does, and Luke and Violet bicker outside the tunnel. Luke says that it’s crazy for Violet to be wearing her grandmother’s clothing. I agree with Violet that it’s not incredibly odd. However her prayers are.

Why is my brother like this Freddie? Why can’t he be nice to me once in a while.

                Maybe he is. Freddie’s husky voice flooded my brain. Maybe you’re just too damn busy disliking him to see it.

                All hail the great goddess Freddie. May she forever speak reason to our misguided protagonist and criticize her poor life choices.

Yeah, the Freddie voice, or Violet’s subconscious whichever you prefer, gave us some much needed perspective that Violet’s point of view is extremely skewed where her brother is concerned. Hell, where a lot of things are concerned.

Violet mopes, thinking Sunshine might be kissing River inside the tunnel. Then this happens.

Then I heard a scream.

                I snapped my head toward the tunnel entrance. Sunshine stood there, at the edge of the sunlight’s reach, face tilted back. She was screaming. She screamed and screamed while I jumped to my feet and ran. I reached her as she hit the ground, skirt up to her waist and sheer black underwear shining against her white thighs.

                Do you know what this sounds like? It sounds like Sunshine has been assaulted. But guess what? We’re not going to address that, because Violet believes river can do no wrong. Even after seeing an acquaintance with her skirt hiked to her waist, Violet still never distrusts River’s intentions.

She’s known him for less than one day. She’s known Sunshine for a lot longer. That should count for something at the very least. But no, true to form Violet will hear nothing against River.

Only one of two things could have happened in the tunnel. Either River did this, or Sunshine hiked it herself and is doing this all for attention. Which seems unlikely, considering how genuinely scared she is.

River lifts Sunshine up and she finally able to form a coherent sentence. She says that she saw Blue Hoffman.

Our chapter ends on a cliffhanger, much in the style of Goosebumps. It wasn’t scary then, and it’s not scary now. The only thing that’s even remotely unsettling about this scene is the implications about River.

Tune in next time when I’ll explore the urban legend of Blue Hoffman, and the absurdity of Sunshine’s parents.

 

Posted in Nitpicks

The “pretty girls don’t eat” fallacy (AKA Good books have food.)

Food is essential to life. A lot of our time and energy is spent thinking about, seeking, and preparing food. Food is so integral to our life that it’s no surprise that it often turns up in the movies we watch and the books that we read.

I was going on a walk with my husband, as we tend to do twice a day when the weather permits, and I started to form this theory. Many of the books I consider to be “good” tend to involve food. It does not mean that the books have to revolve around food (though they most certainly can, as evidenced by the Hunger Games, wherein Suzanne Collins always makes me feel hungry) just that characters feed themselves, or attempt to do so.

A lot of writers choose a single aspect to be indulgent in with their purple prose. A popular favorite is clothes, which always makes me want to gag. I’ve read too many fanfictions to be impressed by those sorts of shenanigans anymore. Other times it might be the majesty of the landscape, or the intricacies of architecture.

Food tends to be a pretty safe place to indulge your purple prose. If food is what you choose to describe in vivid detail, then the worst that can happen is that you make your reader hungry. I thought this was a fairly hard and fast rule to determine a good author from a bad. And for the most part I’ve been right.

The one exception I have found is Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Still, the best writing in the book is done describing food. The food is the unsung hero of the book.

George R.R Martin, J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, Suzanne Collins, Roald Dahl, Jim Butcher, and many more authors that I don’t have room to list here, describe food in detail or have characters who regularly eat.

I have noticed a fascinating phenomenon in fiction- and romance in particular- where the female lead rarely if ever eats. It’s as if its too shameful for the author to admit that their kick ass and conventionally attractive lead has to eat. It’s a red flag for me when the main character is never shown eating on screen.

Take, for example, Bella from Twilight. Bella is hardly ever shown eating while the narrating is going on. She skips lunch and drinks a lemonade as a substitute for a meal during school. She skips dinner after the outing to First Beach. Her routine revolves around making food for Charlie, but yet we hardly ever see her eat the food she makes. She has only a few moments on screen where she eats anything. To be fair, Bella is far from a kick ass heroine, but she is still our main lead.

Meyer gets better about this in The Host, because Melanie and Wanderer get to eat. Eating is done as part of the routine of living, as it should be.

This is also evident in another bane of my existence as a critic, Anita Blake. As of yet I don’t plan to review this series. If you’d like to see a really funny and interesting blog that reviews it you could check it out here. She’s a lot further along in the series than I am, and I don’t want to steal her thunder. Instead I eventually plan to review The Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It shares a lot of the same problems, but without the very occasional laugh and moments of self-awareness that Anita can sometimes have.

As I was saying, in all of the of the Anita Blake books I’ve had the misfortune to read, (I’ve read six of them thus far, not in order. That doesn’t really matter though, since they all share the same format) Anita seems to have this trait as well.

Anita is rarely shown on screen eating. In Dead Ice Anita is pestered by her harem to eat all the time. She doesn’t. This feeding on energy, the Ardeur, or feeding on anger is no substitute for eating. It cannot nourish her body, only food can do that. It could possibly delude her brain and stomach into thinking they are not hungry, much in the way dieters will drink a lot of water to feel full.

Anita does not eat even the protein bars that her lovers pack for her to eat on the road. I mean seriously, why not? That’s not a lot of food. Now I could be wrong, and there might be places in other books where she eats regularly, but I doubt it. Disaster always strikes before Anita can eat, and she conveniently forgets to do so after.

Anita has even less excuse to neglect her health than Bella. Bella is your average teenage girl who does little to no physical exercise. She’s largely sedentary, and all her hobbies are passive. Anita is very, very active. She apparently is quite muscular and lifts weights all the time. She tries to keep up with the gym routine that her guards do. She’s a Federal Marshall and she apparently meets the physical requirements to be on a SWAT team.

She’s also a “lycanthrope” (I use the term loosely because she doesn’t actually change shape.) Shouldn’t she have a higher metabolism than normal? That would mean she’d need more food just to maintain weight, let alone all the physical demands of her many jobs.

By all rights Anita Blake should be a skeleton, not a buff vampire slayer.

I could keep going all night about examples I’ve seen of this phenomenon. 9/10 times if I see a book with characters that neglect their health like that, I know it’s not a book I’ll like. I suppose this is technically a nitpick, but I want you all to know where I’m coming from, because I have this nitpick a lot.