Friday, February 28, 2014

Bite me: Big Easy Nights review

    The Wearing the Cape series is one of my favorite new series. It’s very much like a lighter and softer version of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series. People are granted superpowers by a mysterious force and a whole new species starts to inhabit the Earth. Bite Me: Big Easy Nights follows the adventures of Jacky Bouchard a.k.a Artemis. Jacky possesses superpowers that give her abilities identical to those of a vampire.

    She’s not alone, either.

    Marion G. Harmon takes a break from describing the comic-book flavored universe he created in Wearing the Cape and Villains Inc. to describe the supernatural underbelly of his setting. New Orleans in the Capeverse is a hotbed for super-powered humans who want to pretend they’re vampires, werewolves, or witches—and who’s to say they aren’t if they possess the powers thereof?

    I was really excited about this novel because not only was I a fan of the previous entries in the series, Artemis was my favorite character. The prospect of her getting her own spin-off was enticing to say the least. Unfortunately, the end result is a bit disappointing. Marion G. Harmon attempts to bring new life to his world by showing the urban fantasy veneer of New Orleans but this comes off as feeling derivative of a dozen other urban fantasy series.

    Bluntly, the reason Wearing the Cape stands out so much is because it’s not about vampires, werewolves, and witches. It’s about superheroes and dealing with them in the same sort of realistic manner that so many other urban fantasy novels do monsters. Unfortunately, given the literally hundreds of other monster novels out there--it's just not all that distinct.

    Despite this, I'm going to say I still enjoyed Bite Me. Jacky is a delightful character and it's fun to realize how much she loathes her fellow vampires despite how much she plays into the stereotype. Her snark is ever on the nose and the fact she can't tone it down even when she wants to is an enjoyable character flaw. While I am not feeling the occult undertones of this book, I hope Jackie gets another novel.

    The premise of Bite Me is Artemis being called down to her hometown of New Orleans in order to investigate a series of vampire killings. This isn't terribly new since vampires are a major repercussion of the post-superpower world. Once there, she discovers there is a possible "carrier" that can create new vampires--which is something the government is ready to put all vampires in camp for if they discover one.

     The idea of vampirism being a disease which could destroy the world is a remarkably unsympathetic take on the subject from a vampire protagonist novel. Indeed, Artemis' hatred of vampirism is contrasted against so many of her fellow citizens who'd love to be in her position. Given superpowers come to those individuals who long for them, this is a nice contrast.

    Artemis never wanted to be a vampire and is one of the few "turned" in the world. Still, I wish her contempt was a little less pointed in certain places. It's hard to root for a superpowered vampire who is awesome and sexy when she talks about how awful it is to be one every few pages.

     The supporting cast, plot, and twists throughout the novel are all enjoyable. Fans of the Wearing the Cape series will undoubtedly enjoy this novel and so will urban fantasy fans. Sadly, I just think there's not as much as there could be.


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