April 29, 2011

review: deadworld

Deadworld – J.N. Duncan
She's as tough as anything haunting Chicago's streets. But to deal with an inhuman power that won't stay buried, this FBI agent needs help that comes at an immortal price...Jackie Rutledge has seen her share of supernatural killers. But her latest murder case is what recurring nightmares are made of. Brutally exsanguinated human victims, vanishing-into-the-ether evidence, and a city on the edge of panic mean that she and her psychic partner, Laurel, are going to need more than just backup...So Jackie is fine with any help rugged P.I. Nick Anderson can give - even if that includes the impish ghost and sexy vampire who make up his team. But Nick is hiding secrets of his own. And Jackie's investigation has plunged them both into a vengeful game reaching back centuries - and up against a malevolent force hungry for more than just victory...


When I sat down to read Deadworld, I truthfully didn’t expect to like it. Urban Fantasy is not my usual reading genre. I hate cop stories, vampires, graphic sex, etc. etc. etc. In all honesty, there was really no reason for me to buy this book, but since I had connected with the author through Twitter, I wanted to support him.

A lot of different readers have had varied opinions on Deadworld, ranging from hating it to loving it and everything in between, all for various and conflicting reasons. Some say the plot was gripping, while the characters were lackluster. Some say the writing is monotonous and disagreeable. Others say the exact opposite.

Jackie is hard to like at the beginning of the story. She’s tough, vindictive, impatient, and excessively angry at pretty much everything. Laurel, her psychic partner, is Jackie’s squishy counterpart, sweet, controlled, and kind. They apply the bad cop, good cop roles in the story. I loved Laurel from the very beginning. My inability to connect with Jackie because of her personality was rectified with Laurel. The hero, Nick, suspect in Jackie’s case, is a calm, collected vampire—one that I like. The author did a good job taking the usual vampire stereotypes and turning them on their head without losing the essence of vampirism. While some readers claim the characters lack depth, I came to love the main characters, even Jackie. The author’s characterization was phenomenal. I haven’t been that emotionally invested in a group of book characters in a really long time. I felt their pain, happiness, and anger right along with them. I actually cried at one point. The characters are what made the story for me.

As I said in the first bit, there’s a lot of graphic romance or mentions of it. One particular scene was painful to read, not because it was badly written, but just because of all the emotional baggage that went into it. I just felt bad for Jackie. That said, a decent romance blooms between Jackie and Nick, one where she’s sober and not reliving her abusive past, so that was nice.

As far as the plot goes, it was so-so. The pacing was great for me, possibly slow for others, and the author put cliffhangers in the proper spots (I kept telling myself “one more chapter” for about thirty chapters while reading one night). I didn’t find myself really caring about the plot itself. I was more involved with the characters. The bodies are piling up and both Nick and Jackie want to stop the killer. Nick’s personally involved, and it’s Jackie’s job to catch the villain. I didn’t find the villain particularly threatening, but he is deplorable.

The supernatural aspect isn't overwhelming as it is in most paranormal or urban fantasy stories. Even with vampires, ghosts, psychics, and the world of the dead, it felt like the world we live in, with just a little bit extra. The supernatural was a backdrop for the story rather than the story focusing on the supernatural bits. I liked that.

All in all, I really enjoyed Deadworld, more so than I expected to. It was a complete story for me with no real questions hanging over my head. I don’t know if I’ll read the sequel The Vengeful Dead when it comes out in October. The cover does look fantastic though.

Reading Level: Adult
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington

Rating: ★★★★☆

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