Demon Underground Series Review: Try Me

Try Me cover This part-demon teen vampire fighter and her faithful terrier hellhound are once again patrolling the dark streets of San Antonio, Texas. Val’s hunky human partner, Detective Dan Sullivan, is giving her the cold shoulder since she beheaded his vampire fiancee. Vamp leader Alejandro is struggling to keep the peace between vamps, demons and humans. The mucho powerful Encyclopedia Magicka has been stolen, someone in the Demon Underground is poisoning vamps, and Val’s inner lust demon, Lola, is getting very restless since Val’s now partnered with sexy Shade, the shadow demon with the blond good looks of an angel.
These books are beginning to frustrate me. There is so much potential here, and some of the elements Blue introduces in this new installment are really cool. Unfortunately, what could be cool continues to be ruined by what is consistently bad.

For the sake of brevity (and my sanity; honestly I’d just like to get this series over with), we’re going to take a page from Gwen’s book and do this in bullets.

Cool:


  • Lack of Dan – he’s in this book very little, and the book and Val are better off for it.

  • The demons – the different powers and characters, while X-Men-generic, still hold that “Ooh, what will this one be able to do?” allure.

  • Shade and Shade’s power, both of which are too good for this book. He’s a sweet, understanding, muy sexy-o boyfriend, and his body is literally a portal that demons from different dimensions could use to enter into our world. The only thing holding them back? Shade and his self-control. This is so much cooler than Val’s powers, why isn’t this book about him?

  • The origins of demons and their half-demon spawn – several generations ago, Shade’s evil grandad let a bunch of demons into this dimension to wreak havoc on the world, which Shade feels responsible for (thanks for shouting that out to us, btw, Val, god forbid you let him show it). Anyway, yeah, WHY ISN’T THIS BOOK ABOUT THAT?

  • Val and Shade – they’re much better together than Val and Dan, and the moments in which Val experienced her first warm-and-fuzzy boyfriend feelings were by far her most relatable.

  • Val’s slow reconciliation with her mom – it may be clunkily written, but at least Blue’s trying, and everything’s not insta!forgiven.

Not Cool:


  • No progress with any of the problems I had with Bite Me – still no subtlety, people keep loudly announcing how they feel, and the characters continue to firmly reside in the People’s Republic of Blandness. Oh and it’s still not funny.

  • The characters also continue to smugly congratulate each other on each terrible one-liner and quip, which would be annoying even if they were funny, but guess what, THEY’RE NOT, so it’s 10x more irritating!

  • Blue actually does try to handle Val’s one-dimensional-ness, but in the most superficial way possible: her personality room is undecorated! We will correct this with shopping! And that’s all! Note to authors: giving your character’s room a makeover doesn’t make them more complex, no matter how much you try to insist it does!

  • Fang hasn’t been eaten/wounded/struck mute yet.

  • Val’s jealous fit/reaction to Dan’s new female partner – she’s pretty and he’d rather work with her than Val, so they MUST be sleeping together and this MUST be the reason he broke up with her! UGH. Way to break that stereotype that women can’t be friends because it’s always about the dick.

  • Val (and apparently everyone else’s) fashion sense – who wears a fucking vest with EVERY SINGLE OUTFIT?


    BESIDES HIM. And in what world do other, “more fashionable” characters also consider this a good idea for EVERY OCCASION? I don’t care how well it hides your stakes, it’s not the 90’s anymore, please update your wardrobe. Seriously, they’re like the ugliest ones she can think of, too. I mean, a flowered vest, really? WHO WOULD WEAR THAT?

  • Lack of development – by the end of the book, the Val I was reading about didn’t feel any more complex than the one I started with. She hadn’t learned anything, she hadn’t grown, she wasn’t even more comfortable with her succubus. She just saved the day and ended up with a few more problems to deal with.

  • The plot resolution – we’re literally told the motive, method, perpetrators, and sequence of events over the course of a couple of paragraphs in which Val summarizes a story Shade recounts from memories it’s been established he’s not supposed to have. It smacks of “I had no idea how to resolve this mystery the way I wanted while adequately explaining it” so I’m going to have a my protagonist SUMMARIZE IT FOR THE AUDIENCE. Not that I’m a fan of having one character explain a completely unrelated character’s motivations, but at the very least she could have let Shade recount it himself.

  • The completely plot-irrelevant pit stop Blue made at a pseudo-vampire club for absolutely no reason other than to make fun of Goth kids/vampire role players. Not that, you know, I’m the DEFENDER OF THE GOTHS, but way to shoehorn that scene in there just to let Val get off a few cringe-inducingly bad shots at totally irrelevant characters (that Dan later congratulates her on. NATURALLY.).

  • Stolen slang – IDK if Charlaine Harris made up the word “fangbangers”, but I know that’s where I first heard it, that she popularized it, and that Dead Until Dark came out seven years before Bite Me. Re-purposing it so that it refers to vampires themselves doesn’t keep people from noticing that it’s not your term. Oh, and we’re still calling Val “the Slayer”.

  • Val’s voice – it’s not quite as irritating as say, Zoey Redbird’s, but we’re getting there – at one point she actually says something along the lines of “we’re in deep doo-doo”. Who over the age of like four says that? I’m pretty sure even a first-grader would say “shit”. UGH. I don’t know what YA authors have against teenagers with a halfway intelligent voice, but I’m so frickin’ sick of books narrated by adults trying too hard to sound seventeen. They overcompensate. With stupid.

IDK Yet


  • The revelation that Val’s super speed and strength are Virgin Powers – yes, we’re still on the succubus = teenage sexuality trip, and now that Val is actively experimenting with her powers (and making time) with Shade, we’re given a more tangible road block: if the two ever get horizontal, she loses her soul powers.

    Honestly, I’m still not quite sure what to make of this. I figure it might be a representation of “a woman’s choice” between career/self and love/other (because apparently the male incubi aren’t virgins long enough to realize they have super powers, I shit you not), but I’m not completely sure which or even if there’s an angle Blue is advocating. As a cockblock plot device it’s pretty huge, but the jury is out on whether or not it’s brilliant or a huge cop-out. Time shall tell, eh?

All in all, I’m getting really tired of these books. I have one to go, and while Try Me had some interesting concepts and ideas, the core story and heroine are just not interesting enough to warrant reading the series. Unless Fang Me pulls something pretty spectacular out of its ass, I have a feeling this whole series is going to turn out to be.

two stars


 

4 Responses

  1. Kayla + Cyna

    May 24, 2011 4:20 am, Reply

    Thanks πŸ™‚ Haha, Sookie is much better than this though, at least for me. I od’d on that series after the first season of True Blood though.

  2. Gwen Lightburn

    May 31, 2011 1:13 am, Reply

    What about a spin-off series from the Terrier Hellhound’s p.o.v.? He could “doo-doo” and “poopie” all over the place, snarking out when the protag doesn’t clean it up.

    Seriously, though, anything that’s (1) in the P.C. Cast league or is (2) even slightly reminiscent of the Everbad series is against my reading religion.

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