Jeanne C. Stein
Published 2004 & 2006 293 pages
Anna Strong has a successful career as a bounty hunter. She works with her business partner David, an ex-pro football player, to bring bail jumping criminals back to court and they make a good team.
They don’t expect any trouble apprehending their latest target, a white collar criminal called Donaldson, who is wanted for fraud. Donaldson turns violent the routine arrest goes terribly wrong, leaving David injured and Anna nearly dead.
Anna awakes in hospital with few memories of the attack, she remembers Donaldson beating and biting her and she remembers biting him back in the struggle. With her wounds healing at an astonishing rate, she is quickly released from the hospital.
Avery the doctor who treated her at the hospital soon turns up at her home and explains to her that she has been attacked by a rogue vampire is now a vampire herself. Avery knows all about vampires because he is a Night Watcher. Night Watchers are vampires who keep a look out for rogue vampires, hiding the evidence of vampire activity from humans in order to protect the existence of the whole vampire community.
Avery teaches Anna what she needs to know about being a vampire in order to survive. Caught between her new undead existence and her old life as a mortal she is unwilling to let go of Max, her human boyfriend, and yet unable to resist the seductive allure of Avery. When David is mysteriously kidnapped Anna realises that vampire or not she will not give up her mortal friend.
The Becoming is the first book in a series chronicling the experiences and adventures of newly turned vampire Anna Strong. Originally published by ImaJinn Books in 2004, the current imprint published by ACE is a copy of the original story, so if you have just read the synopsis and think the book sounds familiar it might be because you have read it previously in its ImaJinn incarnation.
For some reason I didn’t immediately like Anna Strong. The character’s sudden infatuation with Avery, her vampire mentor, just left me cold. I know that vampires have their whole seductive vampire mojo going for them and that’s hard to resist but she’d just been raped and nearly murdered 48 hours previously. You would have thought she’d have tried harder to resist!
I think this made the character’s behaviour seem unrealistic and in fantasy novels, where the author is suspending the readers’ disbelief for an entire novel, the characters need to appear to have realistic emotions and reactions otherwise it makes it hard to believe in the other fantasy elements of the story.
The vampires in The Becoming are a strange mixture of vampire mythology too. They are able to go out in the day, yet unable to cast a reflection. They are supernaturally strong and fast, yet they have no magic. How they came to exist or where the vampires originally sprang from, isn’t clear. Whether they are a separate species or a supernatural phenomenon is not explained.
The unexplained vampire mythology also made it hard for me to initially connect with the world of Anna Strong. But – and there is a big but here – once I got about half way through the novel these things all seemed less important to me. The fast paced writing kept me worrying about other things – like who has kidnapped David and who can Anna trust? The plot twists and turns in unexpected ways leading to an exciting climax and before you know it the last page of the novel has been turned.
The Becoming is a promising start to the Anna Strong series. It will be interesting to see how Anna’s character develops in Blood Drive (the next book in the series.) If you are a fan of urban fantasy and vampires give this book a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
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