DAW, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7564-0792-6
Midnight Blue-Light Special is book two in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, but I think it can stand alone pretty well. Just take note that this book contains many spoilers for the previous book. I won’t include those spoilers here, as they aren’t relevant to the plot in this book, but reading them may affect your reading of the previous book. Also, if you are new to the whole thing, read my review of the previous book for the background details.
Where we last left Verity Price, she has managed to stop a threat that could have endangered all the cryptids in Manhattan. If you have read the previous book, you may recall that Dominic De Luca was sent there to scout the situation and report back to his superiors whether the Covenant of St George should sent a force over to purge the city of its spooks. Dominic had tried to convince them that things were fine. but those folks were clearly unconvinced. After all, in this book they end up sending three of their toughest operatives over to scout the situation themselves, and one of them happens to be Verity’s aunt, from the branch that has never forgiven her family for betraying the Covenant generations ago. Meanwhile, Verity has to deal with the possibility that even what they have may not be strong enough to stop Dominic from reverting back to his old loyalty. He may not be able to help this, as the Covenant has ways to break even the toughest folks in town.
Now, I like Discount Armageddon, the previous book in this series, but I am far less receptive to this one. A big part of this is the fact that the author introduces only a few new things about the setting in this story, and therefore, much of the story consists of information dump that I have read before in the previous book. The pacing of this book is problematic, as there is as much information dumping here as there is progression in the plot. Things move very slowly, and when something actually happens, this something eventually fizzles out like a limp anticlimax. The dramatic confrontation at the end is anything but, and by that point, I can only wonder what is happening here. I know the author loves her setting, but she seems to indulge herself a bit too much here, expounding on background information to the point of bogging down the plot with nothing-happening moments in a way that would make Laurell K Hamilton proud. Then again, Laurell K Hamilton would probably object at the lack of silly sex marathons here, but the principle remains the same – there is too much information dumping and not enough things happening here.
Even what little that is new here turns out to be anticlimax in nature. For example, I get to know more about Sarah – and she turns out to be one of those goody-goody types that do not want to be associated with or mistaken for her more murderous and amoral people, so she actually weeps and goes all “I’m a special snowflake – HOW COULD YOU? I CAN DIE FROM THE OPPRESSION!” like some sensitive girl on Tumblr who gets “triggered” by even a little bit of negativity. That’s not very exciting, is it? What little that is new here is revealed in little doses, so most of the exposition rehashes things that I have already read in the previous book – in detail, too. This is good for new readers, I guess, but I find myself putting down this book often because I am bored.
Also, despite the fact that the Covenant could purge the city and kill Verity, her family still seems hesitant to send back-up. Okay, one back-up, and that’s about it. Sarah is reluctant to ask for crucial information because that would get that person all curious and wanting to help, and she doesn’t want that. Verity only calls her cryptid friends to get out of town at the last minute – some protector there, huh – and she finally gets captured by still being careless and silly despite several close calls in this book. If a potential genocide of every cryptid species in town and a death of a family member do not constitute “emergency, pull all stops and send in the missiles” in the Price family, I can only wonder what does. Demonic invasion from the outer planes? Satan financing Uwe Boll’s next movie?
Then again, Verity doesn’t seem particularly worried in this story so maybe it’s some kind of hereditary flaw at work here. I mean, she could have easily gathered Ista and some of the more powerful cryptid buddies she has, grab the three operatives, and do exactly what is done at the end of the book right away. Problem solved in 100 pages tops. Instead, Verity breaks into Dominic’s place to really determine whether he’s no longer her boyfriend (priorities are important), finding opportunities to have sex with him, and generally killing time while everyone wait for the operatives to make the first move.
It also doesn’t help that Verity’s main role in this story is to be stupid and confused so that her resulting antics become the catalyst for things to happen. I have to give Verity credit: she can at least get violent and vicious when she’s in trouble, but at the end of the day, the plot needs her to be stupid, and she still needs rescuing anyway. What a disappointing mess.
I am not sure what the next book will bring, but let’s hope it is more interesting than this laborious waste of time.