Undead and Unworthy
Published 2008 285 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Having recently lost her dad and step-mother, Betsy Sinclair (nee Taylor) is adjusting to rather more than just married life. Their untimely deaths have left her and Sinclair as sole guardians of her little brother, Jon. Two vampire parents - albeit vampire royalty - for a decidedly human baby.
Still, Betsy is more than up for the challenge. If only everyone would stop being so nervous around her, given her sudden recent burst of power (not to mention how she saved her best friend’s life.) Betsy most emphatically Does Not Want To Discuss It, and for the moment, everyone is following her lead.
But then the ghost of Betsy's step-mother turns up at their house. And as stubborn and insufferable as she was in life, she's even more annoying in death... Especially as regards her untimely demise as all Betsy’s fault.
Undead and Unworthy is the seventh book in MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series which follows the life, death and undead adventures of Betsy Taylor (now Sinclair) vampire queen. The author’s note at the start of the novel tells readers that Undead and Unworthy is the start of a new story arc for Betsy that will run over three books. We are urged to “think of this book as the first of a trilogy within a series” and if that helps you go ahead and think of it that way, but I’m still confused with where this series?/trilogy? is going.
A few years ago now I read Undead and Unemployed and I was instantly hooked by the quirky characters and the chick lit vampire story that was so original, fresh and (above all) funny. Seven books into this series and I’m not seeing the funny side anymore. The sarcasm and witty banter that were once the lifeblood of these stories has turned into shrill argumentative bickering and Betsy’s shoe jokes or Jessica’s rich black girl jokes now appear by rote rather than by comic flair.
Most of the Undead books have skated by on wafer thin plots but usually the characters and dialogue have carried readers past the plot holes without too many problems. Lately (with the exception of Undead and Uneasy) the thin plots have been stretched to breaking point and as I read Undead and Unworthy I imagined I could hear an audible snap. The plot of Undead and Unworthy centres around the Fiends escaping and deciding to kill Betsy and the ghostly return of Antonia, Betsy’s rather annoying and much hated step mother. The Fiends aimlessly chomp their way through a few pages and Antonia pointlessly haunts Betsy. Thin… very thin.
Without giving away a plot spoiler, existing fans of this may be shocked by events that happen at the end of this story. After a whole book of not a lot happening (except for shouting, snarling and bickering) there is a major (and somewhat shocking) plot development. Unfortunately by this point I just felt that it was thrown in to carry readers into the next book which will be the second part of this “trilogy within a series.”
My final gripe with Undead and Unworthy is its length. The Undead books have never been of epic proportions and usually this works in their favour, making them a quick read which is finished before you tire of its lightweight frivolity. However, I feel compelled to point out that the 285 pages of this novel are in large type and with wide spacing. Since this book is published as a hardback in the US and as a large format paperback in the UK, it doesn’t provide much value for money. As a result I would recommend borrowing it from the library or waiting for it to be printed in a cheaper paperback form before purchasing this book.
This review may seem harsh but the problem is that after reading Undead and Unwed, or Undead and Unemployed (or even Undead and Uneasy) I know that the author can do better than this. Certainly MaryJanice Davidson has plenty of competition in the “vampire chick lit” genre that was once pretty much uniquely her own. Readers looking for an intelligent and fun read would do well to check out Marta Acosta’s Casa Dracula series. Michelle Rowen, Jennifer Rardin, Kathy Love and Katie MacAlister may provide some good fun alternatives too.
Summing up – Undead and Unworthy is one for die-hard fans and completeists only.
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