Wednesday, September 03, 2008

series review: the damn black dagger brotherhood

Some of my dear readers will think less of me for admitting this, but I am a romance novel reader. I used to be a fantasy/sci-fi reader, heavy on the fantasy. My love for vampires, magic, werewolves, gothic horror, etc. eventually lead me to a new breed of romance novel, the paranormal romance.

So in this vein (har har), I'd like to take a moment to explore the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Which has to be one of the most embarrassing set of books to admit to reading to a non-paranormal romance reader. Some of you are just gonna judge me at this point.

Let's get to it, shall we? These reviews are culled from my profile at Good Reads.

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #1) Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I accidentally read these books out of order, not realizing it was a series. I started with Zsadist's book, which maybe kind of ruined Wrath and Rhage for me, because seriously, how can you top Lover Awakened?

However, Dark Lover is a good book on its own and Wrath's story is fairly exciting read. Ward's vampires come with a dash of hip hop flava, are super-alpha alpha male, and oddly addicting. Once I started this series, I couldn't get away from it... I thought about it constantly, dreamed about it, wanted to read more and more. So I read this in a day and jumped right into the next one.

Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #2) Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rhage's story isn't doesn't stand out as much to me as some of the others in the series. I never really liked his character too much-- all that pretty boy charm he is supposed to have didn't win me over, it kind of grated instead.

Also, I think this is the point where I started to be a little embarrassed of my addiction to the BDB series. Sure, I can own up to enjoying the alpha male style of romance book, but Ward's weak-ass women, the "hardcore" language (Book 1 is amusing, here I start to snort in derision of "gangsta" vampires) , constant brand-name dropping, the friggin baby powder smelling villains? Just explaining the series at book two starts to make me cringe a little.

However, after book 2 is Zsadist, and oh gahd do I lhurrrve this book, true? (<-- inside joke)

Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #3) Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maybe its because I'm a ball-bustin' feminist, but I have a particular reading obsession with tortured Alpha heroes redeemed by the Power of Luuurve and Zsadist is pretty much the pinnacle of the theme.

I can't say much for the most recent books (Vishous and Phury's) but Lover Awakened is like a drug. It calls to me from my bookshelf and I have read and re-read it. The hero is so tortured, he's actually physically deformed. He can't have sex. He frightens women and children. Its such a twist on the romance genre, its amazing-- I mean, how do you redeem a character like this and get him to a happily ever after? The heroine is alright, as far as Ward's female characters go, but I don't love Bella like I love Zsadist.

And this book is just great, mainly because of the Z character. The bad guys, the plot, whatever. Give me Z everytime.

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #4) Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward

rating: 2 of 5 stars

For me, Butch's book is where the series starts to nose dive. I sort of felt like I had to put with Butch in order to get to the rest of the characters I liked.

My problem with this book is mainly that I hate Marissa. I hate how her virginity is basically her personality (read: innocence, purity, etc). I disliked most of the decisions she made as she made them and never sympathized with her problems or her feelings. And honestly, Ward's constant Deus Ex Machina style-- saving her characters from themselves with miracle endings gets a bit old by the fourth installment.

Of course, this book isn't helped by the next in the series. After finishing books 1-4 in a fell sweep, I found myself waiting and waiting, a BDB junkie looking for a fix. I joined message boards and read blogs, read and re-read the first three, and then finally-- book 5.

And it was lame:

Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #5) Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward

rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I finished this, I couldn't help but think that Vishous deserved a much better book.

Its not that it was too dark or too kinky or too weird, its that it just wasn't very good. V and Jane's relationship had none of the build up for me to believe in the true power of their luurrve, and then their inexplicable happily ever after was just a slap in the face. JR Ward needs to stop painting her characters into dark corners and then rescuing them with magic trap doors.


Dear JR Ward, Give me the darkness! I want it! But christ, save me from you saving everyone in the end. Thanks, M Fred.

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #6) Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

rating: 2 of 5 stars

I feel like this is the book that Ward uses to set up the rest of the series, whatever direction it eventually may take. She builds up so many other characters and storylines, Phury's story feels very much like its in the back seat to some distant future plot. I don't want to read a book supposedly about one character (who I have already invested some considerable time in) only to find myself more excited for the other, secondary characters floating around in the background.

Phury's story is short-changed by all the other characters, his internal voice is a complete surprise-- and not in a good way, it pulled me out of the story and made me wonder why I had not an inkling of it in the five previous novels, and Cormia is kind of a lame duck who sits around and does nothing for most of the book.

And now, once again, I have to wait for whatever comes next. Of course, now I am an older, more bitter, more disillusioned BDB-crack head, after these last three books. Maybe Zsadist's story was a fluke. Or, maybe the next book will be SO DARK (the main character has a barb on his penis) that I will die from the enjoyment of it.