Megan's Reviews > Halfway to the Grave

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
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Sep 14, 2009

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bookshelves: urban-fantasy, vampires, not-mine-library

At some point while reading Halfway to the Grave I got the idea that the folks at Harper Collins let it rush through the editing/rewriting/fine-tuning process in order to capitalize on the current Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance trend. That is a shame, because this could have been a great first book. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

For starters, there are quite a few themes which are very familiar to anyone who reads UF/PR. Cat is a heroine with unique and recently refined powers ~ which happen to be amazing and owe more to natural talent than practice. Her past contains a personal family trauma as well as a romantic trauma. She has never experienced love and is pretty naïve about relationships. A sexy, dangerous supernatural guy falls for her at their first meeting simply because he can’t resist her snarky and irritating perky and fresh one-liners. The book continues to follow a very familiar formula that is a combination of romance and taking down the bad guys.

What should have been a bigger part of the book is Cat’s back story ~ she was conceived when her mother was (date?) raped by a new vamp. Lucky Cat has the best of vamp & human biology. What is interesting is that her mother apparently becomes a hot mess after the rape. Fast forward to present day when Cat is 22years old, still lives in her small Ohio hometown, and resides on her grandparents cherry farm with her grandparents & mother. Not especially bizarre until you learn that Cat and her mother share a bedroom. Cat’s mom is constantly reminding Cat of the evil inside of her (making me think of a less extreme Margaret White.) The mother encourages Cat to go out and kill vamps, which Cat is happy to do since she has no friends or hobbies and doesn't work (although she does attend community college.) Regrettably, this crazy life doesn’t really have any bearing on Cat’s character ~ I would love to have seen Bones & life experience transform Cat from a sheltered, awkward, girl to a bad ass monster hunter. But the only character development Cat seems to go through is changing from someone who blushes at every sexual innuendo to an Anita Blake wanna-be. The majority of this transformation takes place during the six weeks or so that Bones trains Cat on the finer points of vamp hunting. Granted, we do see Cat continue to polish her skills throughout the book, and there is a moment of self acceptance and discovery ~ but she becomes the woman she was meant to be pretty early on in this story.

The technical writing wasn’t great either. Jeaniene Frost doesn’t really describe scenes or even clarify when a scene has changed. For example, after their second meeting Bones kidnaps Cat, whisks her away to his lair cave and forces her to take vamp hunting lessons from him. At this point, Frost only writes of Cat’s ordeals while training with Bones, so I assumed that Cat was still his hostage. But afterward we learn that she had still been living with her grandparents & mother, and Bones allows her to come early in the day then leave in the evening. Wha-what? There should have been some conflict between Cat and her family here, but it is only briefly mentioned. Another example of the poor descriptive skills is that later in the book it is mentioned that college has started. Again, I assume that Cat is still attending her community college ~ but, a few paragraphs later we learn that she has transferred to The Ohio State University. Which is presumably far from the fictional small town of Licking Falls, OH. This would have been a great opportunity for Cat’s character development ~ a protected small town girl experiencing the big city and one of the largest college campuses in the nation. But her move to a new school is only mentioned in passing. Some authors get carried away with descriptive writing, but Frost sticks to the most basic facts needed for the particular scene. The majority of her writing focuses on dialogue, thoughts and action.

While I’m on the subject of Frosts bad descriptive skills, I’m pretty bummed at her depiction of central Ohio. Yeah, this is only a point of contention with me because I live here. But I was so excited to read a UF/PR novel that takes place here in my backyard ~ only to find that it could have taken place anywhere. That is, I think Frost looked at a map so she could name highways, roads and towns. But her geography (what little is mentioned) is way off. For example ~ Cat eventually finds an apartment 6miles from OSU, even though there is a ton of affordable (and more practical) student housing much closer. The cave Bones calls home is apparently 20 minutes from Cat’s apartment ~ but 20 minutes from 6miles from OSU is nothing but the burbs! I could go on and on here. But the main point is, Frost did my state wrong =(

Despite all this, I did actually enjoy the story enough to want to pick up the second book in this series. My hope is that the writing will improve ~ but if I find more of the same; it will be time to put the Night Huntress down for good.
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Reading Progress

07/31/2010 page 107
30.0% 1 comment
08/01/2010 page 302
84.0% "Even though this book is set in central Ohio, it became clear to me very early on that the author isn't very familiar with the state. Frustrating ~ it would be cool to read an Ohio UF book from someone who actually lives here & is familiar with everything"
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Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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Tatiana I am about to start this one too:)

Megan Yay!

Tatiana Let's hope it's both entertaining and steamy:)

Megan Keeping my fingers crossed :)

message 5: by Tatiana (last edited Aug 02, 2010 04:38AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tatiana Completely agree with everything you've said. Great review.

And why was she sleeping with her mom?

Megan Tatiana wrote: "And why was she sleeping with her mom?"

I know! That is so crazy, yet it wasn't expounded on at all! A backwoods family that twisted deserves more than a passing mention.

Tatiana Agreed. A lot of wasted opportunities to develop characters and the story itself.

Megan This book easily could have been broken into 2, or possibly even 3 books. It's too bad that everything ~ including the romance ~ was so rushed.

Megan Are you planning on reading the second in this series? According to the synopsis, it skips ahead four years! Sounds like a possible train wreck :(

message 10: by Tatiana (last edited Aug 02, 2010 07:12AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tatiana Oh yeah, Frost could have milked that Cat/Bones chemistry for at least a couple of books. I personally would have appreciated some more playing around:) But maybe that's how paranormal romances are written? I only read (well,attempted to) one more PNR - Dark Lover - and the couple hooked up in it at about page 60.

Tatiana No, I am not. I've read some reviews of the following books and it doesn't seem like they are getting much better. If the writing is not good I can't enjoy a book, even if I like the concept, one-liners, and smut.

Are you going for the 2nd?

Megan Argh, Dark Lover! I hated that one, but everyone else looooves it.

My main issue with PNR (well, any romance) is that it is always very clear to the reader who the protagonist is going to end up with. No fun! I mean, a romance without mystery is marriage, lol. Urban fantasy romances are soo much better, IMO because they take awhile to develop and the couple doesn't always stay together. I love that Sookie dates around, Barrons is so ambiguous, etc.

Yeah, I am going to read the 2nd book. You're right the future novels don't sound much better, but I love the ideas in this one so much that I'm willing to give it one more shot.

Megan Tatiana wrote: "Oh yeah, Frost could have milked that Cat/Bones chemistry for at least a couple of books. I personally would have appreciated some more playing around:)"

True that! =)

Tatiana Megan wrote: "Argh, Dark Lover! I hated that one, but everyone else looooves it.

My main issue with PNR (well, any romance) is that it is always very clear to the reader who the protagonist is going to end u..."

Yep, that's the reason why I like UF and don't read PNR or hardly any romances. I believe just a love story can't be a basis and a sole purpose of a book. I much prefer loving to be secondary. In skillful hands it can be just as hot (like in Fever and Bitten).

Also, I've noticed in romances once a heroine loses her virginity, my interest starts to wane:)

Megan Tatiana wrote: "Also, I've noticed in romances once a heroine loses her virginity, my interest starts to wane:)"

lol! Actually, I always hate it when the heroine is a virgin. If that is what the "firt time" is supposed to be like... I was totally cheated ;)

Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgal/The Hollows series is fantastic ~ a kick ass heroine with no sexual hangups, and lots of steamy romances.

Tatiana LOL! Who wasn't cheated then? I don't know anyone who had it like in these bodice-rippers, that's for sure:)

I need to try Harrison. Her books have been on my TBR forever.

Megan Oh definately, most people are cheated out of a bodice-ripping first time. It's like Twilight... you know it's not great, but are obsessed with it anyway. After you've experienced other, ah books you take a look back & realize Twilight was actually awful but you were too inexperienced to know better! lol

Tatiana LOL. Excellent analogy:)

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