Undead and Unfinished
Published 2010 296 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor is fed up of trying to decipher the strange things prophesied in The Book of the Dead. At the end of her tether, she strikes a deal with Satan who promises to help - if she and her half-sister Laura pay a visit to Hell.
Hell, it would seem, is more terrifying than Betsy could have ever imagined - a waiting room with bad carpeting, re-runs of 70s TV shows and ancient Good Housekeeping magazines. But when Betsy and Laura find themselves catapulted back and forth through time, they realise they could seriously screw everything up for good...
Oh, dear. Where do I start? Let’s start with some book facts. Undead and Unfinished is the ninth book of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series which follows the trials and tribulations of Betsy Taylor, queen of the vampires.
A couple of books ago (in Undead and Unworthy – book 7 to be precise) the author announced that she was starting a new story arc within the series, which would run over the next three books. We were to think of as a “trilogy within a series”. Huh? It made little sense to me then and in light of reading Undead and Unfinished which by my reckoning (and basic math skills), should the third and last part in this “trilogy” it makes even less sense now. Why? The author seems to have forgotten that there are three books in a trilogy and instead of wrapping up the story arc in this novel has ended Undead and Unfinished on a cliffhanger. Not just any old cliffhanger though. This one is abrupt, shocking and unsavoury – if you thought Undead and Unworthy’s ending was bad, just wait until you read this one. Indeed, the author also seems to have forgotten that she is writing romance – and even in serial romance novels readers are still looking for, well … romance.
The Undead books are all lightweight pieces of flighty vampire chick-lit. This isn’t a bad thing. Series fans read them because they are looking for a few hours of light-hearted fun and unlikely romance. These books offer an escape from humdrum reality with a bit of a laugh along the way. Except when they don’t.
Undead and Unfinished was hard labour to finish. The usual 3 to 4 hour reading time for a MJD book extended to days. The first 50 pages are just Betsy recapping the story so far – an unnecessary narrative on her part since the book comes with a “The Story So Far” chapter before the start of the story. As Betsy recaps the story her voice becomes shriller, her jokes more unfunny and her juvenile attitude and bickering quickly grate. If you can make it past this pointlessly extended opening, Betsy gets to go to Hell. Enter Satan who soon has Betsy (and her sister Laura) jumping through time to see and interfere with events from the past, such as the time Sinclair gets turned into a vampire. It’s still not funny, or romantic, or even particularly vampiric.
In my personal opinion, I’d rather that time-travel plotlines with their never ending complexities and paradoxes are left in the hand of the experts – top Sci-Fi writers – and not added willy-nilly to a story where time travel has never been possible before. Adding time travel to a non- Science-Fiction book is usually just a good way to give the characters and plotline a get out of jail free card after they’ve been written into a corner.
I think by now it is obvious that I have little good to say about Undead and Unfinished. The Undead series used to be one of my favourites but the lack of character development has left me extremely irritated with all of the characters in these books. I can get constant bickering in real life, I read to get away from that, but these books are no longer providing an escape. Besides which, the shoe jokes just aren’t funny anymore.
The worst part is that I know the author can do better than this. Where is the magic that gave earlier series offerings Undead and Unwed, or Undead and Unemployed, their places on my keepers shelf? By comparison this book just seems like a lazy effort.
Undead and Unfinished has something of a clue to its nature in its title – “Unfinished”. With its abrupt ending, it seems just that; unfinished. With the increasing cover price of these scanty stories, published in hardback (US) or large format paperback (UK) in their large type and wide line spacing, they offer increasingly poor value for money. The very least you could hope for after purchasing a novel is that the story is complete…
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