So Aubrey has stomped out of the bookstore like a whiny little kid informed that he's not allowed to have gummi bears. Why? Because Tiger Tiger has Risika on the cover, and he's still smarting at the fact that Risika has power over him. Ah, the male ego.
And who is Risika, you're wondering? That would be the protagonist of Atwater-Rhodes first book, which I'm not snarking on this site because it's not nearly bad enough. She's also the protagonist of Atwater-Rhodes' SUE's first book, which is.... I... no... hurm... brain breaks
Seriously, most authors leave the bad fanfiction to the FANS instead of writing it themselves.
Though he had a house on the fringe of town, he preferred to spend his time in the heart of New Mayhem, in his room behind the nightclub known as Las Noches. There he paced angrily, wondering what to do about the human called Jessica.
- What the hell is New Mayhem?
- Can vampires name anything NORMALLY?
- Do most nightclubs have apartments in the back of them?
- Why would you prefer to pace angrily in a tiny room behind a crowded nightclub, rather than a house all to yourself? Is he planning to smash a lot of furniture?
She didn't know that everything she wrote was true. She thought vampires were just another myth.
Like parking spaces at Christmas.
She thought her characters were just figments of her own imagination.
But it turns out she has no imagination at all! No, seriously. She only writes about "imaginary" stuff that is real, and events that were real, and therefore she thought up... absolutely nothing.
She had no idea what Alex was.
Dude, you didn't even bother to change your clothes and trademark jewelry. Edward Cullen hid being a vampire better than you, and he has a bitchfit if people aren't frightened of his vampire spookiness.
That wasn't quite true. He knew that Jessica had recognized him the instant she saw him.
If you're gonna put something in the third-person narrative without a "he thought," don't say one thing and then announce it's not true.
So we hear that some vampire works as an editor at Jessica's publishing company, and said vampire conveniently passed the manuscript on to Aubrey. I'm pretty sure that's the first and last time we hear of a vampire in this series having an actual job, rather than skulking around being brooding and hot all day, or occasionally attending high school for no real reason. And OH SHOKZ, she got Aubrey's entire history correct! Even though her books are INCREDIBLY short, she managed to accurately describe his ENTIRE life down to the last detail. Apparently his life has been either very short or very boring.
The news of this book had quickly spread through the vampiric community, as it had when Elizabeth Charcoal had published her autobiography.
Overheard at the vampiric community's book club:
"Holy crap, this book is even worse written than the last one! I mean, the characters are so flat and one-dimensional!"
"Uh, they're real vampires."
"Really? You mean this is the Aubrey we know? Wow, I never knew he had a weakness for Precious Moments figurines and Lifetime movies."
"I have something even worse for next month: a book about VAMPIRES THAT SPARKLE."
"You do not!"
"I do. And get this, the heroine is called BELLA SWAN. And she has freesia-scented blood!"
".... you're sure that isn't a parody?"
And yes, that is the second and LAST mention of the absurdly-named Elizabeth Charcoal. She was totally pointless and came across as yet another bad Anne Rice knockoff. I'm SO glad she was shoehorned into this book for... what purpose again?
So it turns out Aubrey doesn't give a crap about his entire history being published, even though it's mentioned earlier that he tries to keep parts of his history a secret. So... I guess he does that just to maintain a "man of mystery" atmosphere or something? But OH NOEZ, other vampires in the books are upset at how they've been portrayed!
in the vampiric world, there was no worse threat to one's position than an apparent weakness.
Why do I have the feeling that AAR is a fan of Laurell K. Hamilton, whose vampires are all about who's tuffest and who's on top?
The vampire from the publishing company had not worked with Ash Night directly, and she must not have known about the author's first book.
... or she did, and she just didn't tell Aubrey because he's a colossal dick. Not as bad as Edward, but pretty bad.
So it turns out that Aubrey wisely chose to not learn ANYTHING about the person he's stalking, because he apparently knew ABSOLUTELY nothing about Tiger Tiger. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Aubrey is a huge idiot. He's stalking a person who somehow knows EVERYTHING about his life, but he decided to do absolutely no research whatsoever beforehand.
Despite the artist's ignorance of his subject, Aubrey had instantly recognized the portrayal of Risika.
You would think a published author would KNOW that authors, especially noobs, rarely get that much input into the cover art. Just google "tolkien emus" to get a good example. And even if Jessica got the okay to show a frontal picture (instead of the ass shots so common in urban fantasy a few years back), the artist wouldn't know what Risika looks like! How can you IMMEDIATELY recognize someone from a drawing by an artist who has never seen the original person's face?!
The only way this works is if Master Artist Jessica also is SO brilliant that the publisher insisted on using her as author AND illustrator... and that level of Suiness might poison me.
So Aubrey woobies about how his wittle ego has been injured by the fact that he is now Risika's bitch (apparently now she can read his mind), and even seeing a third-hand picture of her on a book makes him HULK-MAD. AAR doesn't bother to tell us how RISIKA has reacted to this book, since apparently it not only has her history in it, but has her FACE plastered on it. I dunno about you, but if I walked into a bookstore and found my "fictional" biography with my face on it, I would be a little weirded out.
Aubrey had been the first of his kind to search out the author, and most of the other vampires were satisfied by the knowledge that he was dealing with the problem.
"Hey Aubrey, what are you doing about that whole Ash Night thing?"
"I'm searching out the author!"
"Really? And then what?"
"I'm going to enroll in high school and stalk her!"
"And then what?"
"I will be broodingly handsome!"
"... you're not gonna deal with this, are you?"
Though Jessica had requested that her true name and address remain private, Aubrey had easily pulled the information from the mind of her editor.
"Hmmm... she likes bad nu-metal, the Queen of the Damned movie, and shopping at Hot Topic. Why am I not surprised?"
Her town, Ramsa, New York, was only a stone's throw away from his home in New Mayhem, one of the strongest vampiric cities in the United States. Aubrey had drifted into Ramsa to see how much of a threat this Ash Night was.
.... vampiric CITIES? Vampires have entire CITIES?
Okay, let me try to explain why that is monumentally stupid in every way.
- I could buy having vampire TOWNS in some secluded area where people might not notice them much, or vampires living semi-openly amongst humans. That's a stretch, but it might work. I mean, look at Rachel Caine's awesome Morganville Vampires series, which has the concept, "Hey, what if there were a city where vampires and humans coexist?" THAT works. It works because the author actually put thought into it and allowed there to be some acknowledgement of how the world would perceive this, even if they didn't know the secret of Morganville.
- However, AAR here is making up an ENTIRE CITY populated by NOTHING but vampires. And it's apparently supposed to be a super-secret even though... it's a CITY.
- And it's right next to a city populated by humans. Right next to it! Like apparently you can hop, skip and jump right over to New Mayhem from Ramsa.
- And this is not Oklahoma or the Dakotas or anything. This is FUCKING NEW YORK. You know, the nation's third most populous state (according to wiki).
- I mean, how does that work?! HOW DOES NO ONE NOTICE IT? I mean, does nobody stop by for directions? Are there no roads leading to the vampire city? Are there no hikers who might stumble across it? How can you have a city right next to another city and have NOBODY notice it?! Especially since cities tend to have tall buildings that are visible some distance away!
- And that's not even getting into the question of the more global perspective. Do planes flying overhead just... not notice this entire CITY down there on the ground? Does it have zip codes? Who runs the city? Is the government aware of this vampire city?
- And if it's a secret, how do they explain the drain on the power grid? This place has electricity, it presumably has running water, it has shipments of alcohol.... how is this just handwaved away?! This city draws on actual resources that would be easily traceable, and yet we're supposed to buy that NOBODY has wondered, "Hey, I wonder where all this water, electricity and stuff is going to. According to this map, it's all being directed at the middle of nowhere."
- Also, how do they maintain this stuff while staying top-secret? Are there vampire construction workers? Vampire plumbers? Vampire truckers? Vampire interior decorators? Vampire clothing stores entirely filled with mallgoth clothes? I ask this because after reading this book, it genuinely seems like the vampires in this city do absolutely jack-shit except hang around clubs.
- In conclusion, it makes as much sense as building a house next to the post office and leeching off its resources, and having nobody notice the house's existence or what it's taking away!
What had he expected? Anything but what he found: a seventeen-year-old human who had no apparent connection to the vampire world.
I would have expected just that. I mean, who would you expect to write bad romanticized vampire novellas that shamelessly rip off Anne Rice/LKH/Buffy, other than a teenage hack with no life experience? Aside from a Mormon housewife hack with no life experience?
But of course, Jessica has a vampiric aura which is enhanced by the vampires nearby, and she's somehow able to block Aubrey's vampire mind-powers, which he finds sooooooo fascinating that he doesn't want to kill her. Also, he loves how she isn't scared of him even though she should be. Wow, I'm having a dejavugasm right now. Whatever could this remind me of?!
I'm starting to wonder if Smeyer ripped off this book. That would add a whole new level of patheticness to Twilight. I mean, it's a horrible series in every way, but an adult woman stealing ideas from a then-16-year-old girl's adolescent fantasies, then slapping some glitter on it?
Actually, it would explain a lot.
Indeed, there were many things about Jessica that interested him despite his usual distaste for humans.
She was as sullen, dim and useless as he was!
So then he decides to stop pacing in her room, and start pacing in a crowded club. LOGIC. Yeah, he goes out into the club so we can have it described to us... and no, it's not nearly as interesting as AAR thinks it is.
The nightclub's atmosphere was intense.
... really? And here I thought nightclubs were all about pastel colors, muzak and playing checkers. Curse you, AAR, you have destroyed my illusions!
Red strobe lights flashed through the room, disorienting everyone but those who had spent as much time inside the place as Aubrey had. Bass-heavy music pounded from speakers hidden somewhere in the shadowed ceiling, and mirrors covered the four walls. Risika had shattered every inch of these mirrors during her fight with Aubrey, so the numerous reflections were now distorted.
- So... they just haven't bothered to fix the mirrors? They just... left them completely shattered and presumably falling apart? Did they think that looked cooler, or were they just glad to get rid of the dated eighties decor?
- Also... fighting in a room full of mirrors is one of those things that I don't understand putting in books. I mean, it's visually interesting in a movie, but you lose the whole effect in a written medium.
- And again, I'm wondering if Smeyer ripped that off, since the climax of HER first book involves a wall-smashing fight in a mirrored room. Originality!
Until Jessica saw Las Noches, walked inside, and tried to keep her mind from spinning, she would never be able to accurately imagine the psychedelic bar and nightclub that was the dark heart of New Mayhem.
PSYCHEDELIC MY BOTTOM. Psychedelic stuff does not involve ear-bleeding bass music and strobe lights. That sounds more like drum and bass rave!
Of course, Jessica didn't believe that New Mayhem even existed.
... along with the government, since apparently nobody has noticed it.
Now, in the hour before sunset, the crowd was the usual mix of humans and vampires.
Where do these people live? What do they do? Why are they HERE? Seriously, WHAT IS GOING ON?!
The mortals were comforted by the sunlight that still bathed the world outside; most of the vampires in the room would not hunt until after dark.
... why? Since they apparently can walk perfectly safely in the daylight and apparently have all their powers... why bother waiting until dark? Are they avoiding the sparkle?
And now it's time for the introduction of some vampires who will have little or no effect on the storyline.
The bartender on duty was an ebony-eyed girl named Kaei.
Um, that's an ERA name.
With her pale skin and the curtain of ink-black hair that fell down her back, Kaei had looked like the traditional vampire even when she'd been human. She had been born in Mayhem and had been responsible for its nearly complete destruction three hundred years earlier. She had offered Aubrey her blood more than once, and in return he had probably saved her life a dozen times.
Wow. This one paragraph is infinitely more interesting than anything we've had in this book so far, and contains the only events I'm even remotely interested in... so of course, it won't be explored at all. Of course, an interesting and potentially well-rounded character with a story we might ACTUALLY WANT TO HEAR is totally neglected so we can pay attention to the driveling Sue and whatever pretty boys are around.
Kaei mentions that someone named Moira is looking for Aubrey, because she wants to help him "dice the writer into bite-sized pieces." Then they will marinate the pieces with a fine vinaigrette, toss them over a salad, and serve them with a white wine.
Moira had complained many times recently that Ash Night had made her seem weak.
She complained this shortly after a kitten scratched her and made her cry.
The author had not needed to try very hard. Though Moira was strong in comparison to most others of their kind, she was one of the weakest of their line. She had been changed more than five hundred years before Aubrey but had never gained his strength.
BAAAAAAAADDDDD decision. Bad bad, very bad.
Okay, you do not make your villain a huge wimp compared to even ONE of your protagonists. This completely sucks away all real tension, because you KNOW that the protagonists will easily kick the villain's ass. Even if one of your heroes has a power-up or somehow acquires power enough to defeat the villain, the villain should at least START OUT more powerful.
Most of their line had been strong as humans; that was how they attracted the attention of the vampires who would ultimately change them.
What kind of strong? Mentally strong? Physically strong? Strong in the Force? WHAAAAAATTTTT?
Fala had met and fallen in love with Moira, then changed the human woman to save her life.
And to be able to use the commuter's lane.
So we're told that Moira and Fala are supposedly scary because of their reputation for being fond of causing pain. So, they're not feared because they're fond of causing pain, but because they have a REPUTATION for it. I also frighten people, because I have a reputation for being a former Navy SEAL who has telekinetic powers and a deep hatred for teddy bears. Well, I'm not, but I'm still scary!!!!!!
Moira had been born before the Aztecs, and shortly after she'd been changed, she had pulled the heart out of one of their priests with her bare hands.
Uh, "Moira" is an Irish name. I'm pretty sure that there weren't a lot of Irish people in Mexico in the 1300s (which is when the Aztec civilization began), so how the hell would she get there? Did she make a massive transatlantic voyage just so she could kill her some Aztec priests?! Why would a Celt have bothered killing Aztec priests?
... or maybe AAR just screwed up and thought it was an Aztec name, or even that she made it up herself.
It also turns out that the only Celtic Aztec's girlfriend Fala is blabbering about "turning the author into ash—making her 'fit her name better.'" Kaei's kind of a gossip, isn't she? And for the record, I don't really care if Moira or Fala kill Jessica. That could only improve the book.
But Aubrey doesn't give a crap right now, so he makes some unfunny comment and Kaei just... walks away. I guess she's fulfilled her entire role in this story.
"Do what you will," Kaei answered, knowing that what she said rarely mattered.
So why does she bother?
Aubrey yanks out some unlabeled bottles, which raises the question of why they even bother having a bartender since apparently you can just wander back and chug whatever you want.
Though not exactly sure what it was, he knew it wouldn't harm him. He could down a liter of cyanide and not notice any effect.
However, cherry Coke still made him queasy.
Some of these bottles held wine, others liquor, and others blood that was always cold.
- Putting stuff in bottles does not maintain its temperature. Even an insulated bottle will eventually get to room temperature.
- Also, how the hell do they keep it from clotting? If you just have blood sitting around, that WILL happen.
- Also, do vampires in this series drink wine/liquor? Can they eat? I mean, is this like Being Human where they can eat other stuff but they NEED blood, or do they just stock wine for any idiot vampire groupies who wander in? I WOULD LIKE CLARIFICATION, PLEEZ.
How the bar was kept stocked was a mystery, as there was rarely a bartender working and the drinks were all free.
Las Noches later went into bankruptcy and shut down because they weren't making any money, but they were still having booze and blood shipped in and they had massive electric bills. Oh, but how silly I am! Vampires are NEVER shown as needing to pay bills or deal in mundane money matters - only us mere mortals!
And that's where the chapter just... stops. There's no real ending to to the chapter - it just gives us a description of the drink arrangements at the bar, and that is apparently supposed to make us want to read the next one. Yeah, right.