Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Review: Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson


The novel Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson was recommended by a co-worker, who is a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series, like me. She explained the story takes place in the same “vampire world” as Sookie (meaning the vampires have similar powers). Since I finished all the Sookie novels (even the new one released May 5, Dead and Gone) I was eager to try a new vampire series. She did classify her recommendation by saying it was vampire chick lit, so I was warned (I’m not that big of a chick lit fan but will read if it’s a compelling story).

Warning: I will reveal spoilers. Also, if you are a fan of the series or novel, you probably won’t like my review because I will admit; I’m going to be a little harsh on the main character. Consider yourself warned.

The UK cover of Undead and Unwed

The story is told in a first-person narrative by our protagonist, Elizabeth “Betsy” Taylor. Yes, her name is Elizabeth Taylor. I can only assume the author choose the name for comedic reasons, but to me it was a little over the top.

The story starts with Betsy describing the worst day of her life, the day she died. Spoiler alert – she rises as a vampire.

As she describes her life and we learn more about our heroine, I realize I don’t like her. Betsy comes across as self absorbed, vain, not too bright, and arrogant. Now, I’m sure the author meant to portray her this way because she beats us over the head with Betsy’s materialism and daftness (she refused to fight against the vampires who are trying to kill her until she's bribed with expensive shoes). As the story continues, I grow more and more annoyed with Betsy, almost to the point that I don’t think I’ll even finish reading the book. She annoys me with her need to always “talk back”, her unnecessary use of profanity (I’m not a prude, but don’t cuss just for the sake of cussing) and how she refuses to listen to logic. Seriously, her decision making process is ridiculous.

My favorite vampire is Eric Northman, in the Sookie Stackhouse series, played by Alexander Skarsgard on HBO's True Blood

After Betsy becomes a vampire we realize she isn’t like your typical vamp. The hunger for blood doesn’t consume her (she can go days without drinking), sunlight doesn’t burn her, holy water and religious paraphernalia doesn’t harm her. Her odd vampire status brings her to the attention of other vamps. Similar to the Sookie Stackhouse series, two vampire factions are at “war”.

My mental picture of Betsy, the chick from the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic

This novel didn’t bring any real nuance to the vampire world. The author basically turned Paris Hilton into a vampire. And to be honest, I don’t like the real Paris Hilton and the vampire version, I dislike even more.

The novel continues with Betsy being annoyed with all vampires (even the ones who try to help her), one vampire faction trying to kill her and the other trying to get her to join their side. I won’t give away the ending but I’m sure you can predict what happens.

Now, I can only recommend this novel to someone who:
  1. Doesn’t get annoyed easily
  2. Who really enjoys chick lit
  3. Needs a quick vampire fix
The author MaryJanice Davidson with her shoes (photo from her website)

If you like Dead and Unwed, you might also like the rest of the books in the series:

In conclusion
I will admit, part of me wants to read the rest of the novels since I read the first one (if I start something I like to finish it), but I keep remembering how annoyed I was at the main character. Of course, I was annoyed at times with Sookie Stackhouse, the main character from the Southern Mystery series (she makes stupid decisions at times), but Charlaine Harris’s story is a lot more compelling and her vampire world sucks me in. The Queen Betsy novels aren’t new or that compelling to me. But with that said, I might just download the rest of the books for my new kindle!

Additional Reading

6 comments:

  1. I appreciate your honesty. A review should have honesty. I'm not into the whole vampire thing anyway, so no worries about me running out to buy this or the Twilight Series.

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  2. @Mrs Cooper thanks for commenting. I totally understand, vampires aren't for everyone. I enjoyed the movie Interview with a Vampire year ago but never thought enough to read a book about vampires until the Sookie Stackhouse series (they suck you in, no pun intended) and I also enjoyed Fledgling by Octavia E Bulter. Hey, you might like vampire stories if you read a good one (just don't start with Undead and Unwed). :-)

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  3. _Totally_ agreed with this review. I couldn't finish the first book (I've never read any other chick lit and now I never will, as well) and comparing it to Sookie or recommending it to a fan of that series is a poor recommendation. I wandered over to some vampire romance (95% of the genre's really poor, but JR Ward is decent, etc), and a couple of urban fantasy series like Dresden & Kim Hollow's Hollows series (no vampires, boo, decent writing in book 1, gets so so). Oh yeah, and Laurell K Hamilton.

    Other than the above (and yeah, I guess Twilight - which is addictive, but the writing is mediocre) the genre (or anything vampire*) goes downhill from what I've seen. Too bad!

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  4. @Lise I was so close to permanently putting this book down, but I figured I already got that far, minds-well finish and realized I wasted a couple hours of my life with it. And you are right, it's bad to compare this to the Sookie series. Just because it's a vampire story doesn't mean it will be equally enjoyable.

    I did try to read Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton, but the novel just pushed us into her vampire world without much explanation that I found it hard to understand and figure out what exactly was going on so I stopped. But so many people love those books, so I might give them another try.

    I will say, I doubt I will read Twilight. I like my novels to have a little more spice than the teenage love story.

    I will check out some of the authors you mentioned.

    Once again, thanks for commenting!

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  5. Actually, I was -dared- into reading Twilight, and I approached it with disgust, but the first book (at least, the rest are beyond poor, in plot and writing) captured the high school crush fantasy really well. I'm still trying to figure out why it's such a phenomenon, however, because both the YA genre (stuff like Megan McAfferty's Sloppy Firsts series) and the vampire genre has better stuff to offer. It is a mystery.

    LKH definitely requires you to suspend your brain (and grammar); it's worth reading just to compare how many other books have taken from the series (including Sookie somewhat). Other than JR Ward, the best writing and plot I've found has been in paranormal romance (little or no vampires) - Kresley Cole (valkyries & vamps), and Sunny (her own supernatural vamp like species). There's soooooo much bad writing, hackneyed plots, single dimensional characters in the genres, however :(

    Anyway! Wonderful blog. While I have not commented on the more serious entries (yet? ;)), it's a breath of fresh air reading the blog of someone who takes the time to write lengthy (and fascinating) entries on supreme court cases/politics art & culture, interspersed with gorgeous eye candy. Best wishes & looking forward to comments on anything and everything going on in the world today :)

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  6. See, I just posted a review of Undead and Unwed, and I liked it a lot! I thought it was hilarious! :)

    Here's my review, if you're interested:

    http://cunninghamfan.blogspot.com/2009/08/review-undead-and-unwed-by-maryjanice.html

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