by Laura Resnick, paranormal (2011)
DAW, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7564-0595-5
Esther Diamond is back in the fourth book of her series, and she's still trying to make a name for herself as an actress. This time around, she finds herself starring as the hapless ingénue who becomes the victim of a vampire in the play The Vampyre. It's practically a softcore adaptation of John Polidori's work of the same name, but while the whole thing looks like a total wreck on paper, it may just be the biggest show of her career.
The lead actor, Daemon Ravel, has a small but crazed following that will ensure that the shows will remain packed throughout its run. Daemon claims to be a real vampire, not that Esther believes him at first. But when a crazed fan of his that attacks Esther one evening turns up dead later that night, drained of blood, she begins to wonder...
Vamparazzi can function as a stand alone very well, and the main characters have established ties that should not be too hard to follow even by people new to the series. Like the other books in this series, this one aims to be light-hearted, silly, and fun. No angst, no brooding twits, and this story actually makes fun of those silly emo vampires that have taken over the urban fantasy genre.
Now, the first few chapters of this book are absolutely fun to read, because making fun of surly goth kids pretending to be vampires never gets old. The last few chapters are great too, because they are a good blend of farce and genuinely thrilling moments.
Unfortunately, the bulk of this story is made up of information dumping. The author seems to have had a great time doing the research leading up to the writing of this book, but her enthusiasm translates to paragraphs after paragraphs of people lecturing to Esther about everything, from urban exploration to the sewage system of Manhattan. The vampire lore of this story is delivered through heavy-handed lectures from Max, while Lopez would give Esther a lecture on crazy fan behavior. And on and on, with Esther end up being what seems like the most dutiful college student ever. I'm just surprised she doesn't start taking notes, because this whole story feels too much like one long lecture.
The information dumping practically kills the momentum of the story, because for a big chunk of the story, the whole "dead women killed by vampires" thing fades into the background when it should have been a pivotal part of the whole thing. Also, conversations in this story are often unnatural and stilted, as they are often excuses for one character to launch into whatever topic Ms Resnick feels like talking about. As much as I find these lectures interesting, I am more interested in seeing things happen in this story. And things happen way too slowly for the most part.
Vamparazzi is in many ways the most memorable book in the series so far, although that could be because I have a soft spot for the theme of this story. But the execution is pretty dire here, as the author often goes overboard with all that information dumping. It is actually a relief when I reach the last page, because all that blah-blah-blah just makes the story feel like one long rigor mortis process.
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