Thursday, March 26, 2009

Slow Down You Write Too Fast! or My review of "Once Bitten" by Kalayna Price

I was just reading a post on Orannia’s blog Walkabout on not feeling as positive about a given book that others really like. I have had that experience recently with “Once Bitten” by Kalayna Price. Often, after reading a book and before posting my review here I like to check out what others thought about it. I will go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble sites and look up the book and the reader comments. “Once Bitten” got rave reviews on Amazon! I was really surprised. I liked the idea of this book and I enjoyed a lot of the individual scenes but overall I was disappointed and now I am going to tell you why…..

This book is an urban fantasy placed in a fictional city called Haven. It put me in mind of Seattle. The main character is a young woman, Named Kita, who is also a shape shifter. She is the heir to the leadership of her clan but doesn’t want the job so she goes on the lamb for the next five years.
We join the story after she has traveled all over the country trying to survive and stay clear of the Hunters. Hunters are the guys who go after strays and rogues and bring them back to rejoin the clan or suffer the consequences of bad behavior. After spending a lot of time and effort evading the Hunters one night she ends up at a rave and someone slips her a mickey. The drugged drink makes her really sick and she escapes from one bad scene only to be run to ground by another stray shifter and nearly beaten to death.
Next scene opens with her in a bed somewhere she doesn’t know being tended by an old crone called Mama Neda and is forced to drink a mug o’ blood. She has been turned by a vampire! Nathanial is the vamp who did the deed. While he is trying to explain what, why, and how she runs in a panic and ends up running smack into her childhood friend Bobby who has become a Hunter to track her down and bring her back to Firth. Just as an argument begins to really get going between Bobby and her a demon pops in to the scene to sentence her to death because she tagged a human, (tagged = wounded), that caused the human to become a rogue maniacal shifting killer. Nathanial shows up just in time to argue she may be the only one to find the shifter and the demon gives them 3 nights to find the rogue and kill him or else. If she fails not only will she die but so will Nathanial and Bobby. He marks Kita so she can never escape her punishment should she fail. Since this is book one in a series I bet you can guess pretty much how the story ends.

If you think my synopsis is jumpy, missing pieces and irritating then you understand how I felt about this book. This book moves faster than the speed of light. I have no problem with speed and action but there are several places in the 1st hundred pages that I was just lost. What the heck just happened? I found myself rereading parts to make sure I didn’t miss something. I didn’t. It wasn’t there. Things do start coming together later in the story but by then I am more interested in catching the rogue than I am to learn she and Bobby had been childhood sweethearts but daddy wouldn’t let her be with him so she ran away.
Ms. Price has a very cool premise going here. “What happens when a shifter becomes a vampire?” She tries to answer the question with a lot of action, internal dialogue and of course a budding attraction between Kita and Nathanial. Love that. The problem for me was that I felt she was so involved in moving the story forward she forgot to explain much of the back story. What is the real reason she doesn’t want to be clan leader? Why are there so many shifters interacting the human world and humans don’t seem to be aware of them? I wanted to know more about Firth, the place she came from. Was it another dimension, since they could only cross in and out on a full moon? Was it only filled with shifters? Why would they want to be involved with Haven and humans? How did she survive among the humans without get noticed? Who exactly is Gil? Then there are the Vampires. Nathanial is an extremely powerful vamp but still not as powerful as some on the council. What council you ask? I am not sure either. There is too much going on in this book and since this is intended to be a series I think she could have focused on the turning vamp and catching the rogue and left me wanting more when she has to face the demon and the council in the next book.
If her next book shows up at the library I will probably pick it up. I think Ms. Price has potential. Some of the feeling of manic movement could be an issue of editing. Nevertheless, there is some good stuff in here but I think she should put down the Red Bull while writing.

P.S. Have you ever read a popular book that you just couldn't enjoy? Post a comment and let me know.

No comments: