Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TBR Challenge 2014: Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Yay, made it two months in a row! So far so good :) This time around though, I didn't take any chance and read my TBR book as soon as possible... and it paid off! Going to have to try to repeat that :P

So this month's theme was "series catch-up." I cheated a little and started a new series instead, the Chicagoland Vampires series... However, for once, I'm really far behind as book #9 just came out earlier this month. So if I get hook on this series, I will have a lot of it to catch up! Plus, I have two books of Chicagoland Vampires in my TBR pile, so it's as if I was catching up on the series, right? :P

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
published by New American Library in April 2009
They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was mine. I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world-and then a rogue vampire attacked me. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker… and this one decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Turns out my savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four hundred year old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude-and servitude. Right…

But my burgeoning powers (all of a sudden, I’m surprisingly handy with some serious weaponry), an inconvenient sunlight allergy, and Ethan’s attitude are the least of my concerns. Someone’s still out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war-and there will be blood…
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Chicagoland Vampires, Book #1

The Story: Merit comes from a new-money family with parents who aspire to be part of the elite social class of Chicago and two older perfect siblings. The only person she's close to is her grandfather Chuck who used to be a cop for 34 years and who now works for CPD's Bureau of Investigative Services. Not fitting in with her family, Merit wants to be independent and left alone to complete her graduate studies in English literature. However, her life takes a drastic turn when she is attacked by a rogue vampire and later changed by the head of the Cadogan House, Ethan.

Even though it was for her survival, Merit is unhappy about her change because her choice was taken away from her. And so it makes it even more difficult for her to conform to the vampires feudal system. However, if she wants to enjoy her second life, Merit won't have a choice... especially when it becomes evident that Merit is more powerful than any new vampire should be.

And then, there's the actual attack by a vampire. Merit wasn't the only victim - two more were attacked before her and actually died. At each site, clues against a vampire house was left behind. So who is a the real culprit? Is it really a rogue vampire, a traitor of the Cadogan House, a vampire from a rival house?

My Opinion: I've had Some Girls Bite in my TBR pile for quite some years. I bought it along with the second book in the series, Friday Night Bites. I can't remember whether it was an impulse buy to cheer me up or I needed some books to take advantage of a "buy 3, get the 4th free" promotion... although I have the feeling it was the latter ^_^; Throughout the years, I've started Some Girls Bite several times, but always lost interest because of newer and shinier books. This time though, I was determined to finish it... and I did!

Despite all the false starts, Some Girls Bite was actually an interesting read. I thought the storyline had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, most of the book was used to set up the world and the characters... This is not always a bad thing, but in the case of Some Girls Bite, it just overtook everything. I felt the story wasn't as developed and complex as it should be, especially the intrigue. There was also a definite lack of action which was surprising given that Merit turned out to be very proficient with weapons with her acquired speed and agility, earning her the rank of Sentinel. That combined with Merit's internal struggle of being a vampire and joining the Cadogan House just made for a tedious read at times ^_^; If only there's been more focus on the intrigue and a bit more action, Some Girls Bite would have been a bit more balanced and exciting.

I think what saved Some Girls Bite was Merit's character. She's smart, independent and quite witty. She's not the submissive style who will automatically obey. She wants what is best and if she sides with you, you know she'll be loyal to you. I enjoyed her character, her snark and her insight. Her internal struggle about becoming a vampire and her feelings for Ethan was understandable and added depth to her character, even though sometimes, it was a bit draggy ^_^; What didn't work so much for me with Merit is that right away, she's exhibiting signs that she is "special", i.e. more than just a regular vampire, and also that she has feelings for Ethan. For both instances, I feel it was too fast. I think it would have been more interesting if it had been more subtle, if it had been weaved in in the storylines - even if it would have taken many books - instead of being so obvious... because then, Merit becomes a bit of a cliché :( Also, besides being good-looking, Ethan doesn't seem to be that crush-worthy. I mean, for most of the book, Merit thinks he's pompous and condescending... So what is it that she finds attractive in him? What redeems Merit and Ethan's attraction for each other is that it seems their relationship won't be easy-peasy. There seems to be some obstacles in the way and that should make it interesting.

There also seem to be some interesting secondary characters. I'm very curious about Merit's best friend, Mallory, and Catcher. The two are interesting, although I find that their pairing, like Merit and Ethan, was quite fast to happen. Wonder if there isn't something behind it. Morgan is another vampire, the third party in the love triangle with Ethan and Merit, and at the end of Some Girls Bite, becomes the head of the Navarre House. I'm curious how that will turn out, because so far, I do like Morgan more than Ethan... There's a few more character such as Merit's grandfather, a shapeshifter named Jeff and some other Cadogan vampires that might make this series more interesting. So all in all, a nice cast of secondary characters.

My Grade: I initially gave Some Girls Bite B-, but after writing this review, I feel it's more of a C+ read. I feel Some Girls Bite could have been better if it didn't suffer of the first book syndrome. Still, it was an interesting read and it showed that the series had a lot of potential. However, I'm not in a hurry to check if I'm right or wrong.