Felix Gomez #5: Werewolf Smackdown

It’s pretty much a cardinal rule of the horror genre that vampires and werewolves never get along. Thus, it was inevitable that Felix Gomex would eventually find himself facing some lupine adversaries. Let’s pit fur against fang with Werewolf Smackdown, by Mario Acevedo.

Synopsis:

A sure-to-be-bloody civil war is brewing between rival werewolf factions, and P.I. Felix Gomex will do anything he can to make sure it doesn’t explode into a vicious battle that engulfs all creatures, living and dead. Between that, the sudden reappearance of an ex-girlfriend, and a gang of other vampires trying to take off his head, this is one rumble even a fanged detective extraordinaire may not be able to handle.

Source: Back of the book (and here’s the Goodreads link)

SPOILERS BELOW

Felix Gomez has stumbled into the center of werewolf war. With two rival alphas gearing up for a conflict that threatens to expose the supernatural world to humans, he finds himself under fire from bot sides – the most dangerous place in any conflict is the middle. The result is a fast-paced, action-packed book that sits near the top of the scale for the Felix Gomez series. No weird alien stuff here; just classic fur-against-fang werewolf/vampire fight scenes.

The book also does nicely in the continuity department, featuring the return of love interest Wendy Teagarden and villain Paxton. Having familiar characters show up again raises the stakes, as it adds a personal investment to a conflict which Felix otherwise wouldn’t have much of a stake in.

Finally, the flow and pacing of the book is much better than the last one. It still has many short chapters, but the placement of the breaks feels much more natural than in the previous book; it doesn’t have that choppy, broken-up feeling.

If the book does have a flaw, it’s in villains. The werewolf alphas never really rise to pose the appropriate level of threat: the characters keep talking them up, but they never actually come off as all that tough, and the resolution comes off as pretty anticlimactic. Paxton, while getting points for being a returning nemesis, is revealed to be so badly disabled from their last encounter that he basically lacks the ability to fight Felix at all anymore; he too is dispatched with hardly any difficulty at all. As the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew put it in Space Mutiny: “And our hero boldly roasts the disabled guy!”

So, yeah, overall, this one was pretty decent. It even had a non-cringeworthy title for a change. Maybe this trend can continue into the next and final installment of the series. Let’s see… Rescue From Planet Pleasure. Sigh. Oh, I have a bad feeling about this…

Final Rating: 3/5

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Women of the Otherworld #10.5: Tales of the Otherworld

The Women of the Otherworld have many tales to tell. Let’s gather ‘round and listen to some Tales of the Otherworld, by Kelley Armstrong.

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered how lone wolf Clayton Danvers finally got bitten by the last thing he ever expected: love? Or how the hot-blooded bad-girl witch Eve Levine managed to ensnare the cold, ruthless corporate sorcerer Kristof Nast in one of the Otherworld’s most unlikely pairings? Would you like to be a fly on the wall at the wedding of Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne as their eminently practical plans are upended by their well-meaning friends? Or tag along with Lucas and Paige as they investigate a gruesome crime that looks to be the work of a rogue vampire?

Now devotees of the Otherworld can share these special moments with some of their favorite characters – as well as discovering deeper insights into the lives of some of the lesser-known players. But even readers new to the Otherworld universe will find much to love in these seven tales of friendship, adventure, and enduring romance. For when the superhuman men and women of the Otherworld set their minds to a task, they do so with fierce passion and an undivided sense of purpose that make them, in the end, very much human.

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

The central story of this collection is undoubtably “Beginnings”, the story which at long last tells of how Elena and Clay first met and began their romance. After ten whole volumes, it long past time that this important inciting incident in Elena’s life was revealed. And it doesn’t disappoint: despite the fact that the ending is predetermined, it keeps things interesting and engaging by alternating between the viewpoints of Elena and Clay and exploring their inner thoughts and emotions in depth.

The other lengthy story in the collection is “The Case of El Chupacabra”, a well-done supernatural mystery that centers on the tension between the sorcerer Cabals and vampires. It gives a nice character spotlight to the interactions between Savannah and Cassandra, two characters who I wouldn’t mind seeing more often.

The rest of the stories are much shorter, but a few of them still manage to stand out. “Rebirth” fills in some much-lacking information about how Otherworld vampires work, and “Bewitched” covers the relationship between Eve Levine and Kristof Nast. Both were well worth the read.

The remainder of the tales, however, didn’t impress me much. “Wedding Bell Hell” didn’t have any conflict worthy of the title, “Expectations” was too brief and inconsequential to build up much tension, and basically nothing at all happened in “Birthright” and “Ghosts”. There were also some notable omissions: after those fox maidens were introduced in the previous short story collection, I was expecting them to make a reappearance here; but no, they got nary a mention. And of course, with two stories featuring vampires, I am compelled to mention that Women of the Otherworld could really benefit from a vampire point-of-view character. Say, you know who would be a nice fit for that role? Zoe Takano. Just saying.

Yes, it is obvious by now that she was just a one-shot character who is never going to appear again. No, I am still not going to let it go. Not even for an instant. Even if the one who chooses the destiny of the world, Kelley Armstrong, has abandoned her among the souls that cycle through rebirth in the crevice between heaven and earth. The fragment of glory I must gain, more ephemeral and precious than love, is for Zoe to grace the page again. And so, even if I know that only three novels remain in the series and that a miracle will never occur, with certainty, I still cry to the heavens: oh gods, grant me one more appearance by this character now. Oh, powerless ones, oh tools, farewell, go on… Bon ~Karma~.

Whoops. Think I got my Takanos mixed up for a moment there. In any case, since “Beginnings” and “The Case of El Chupacabra” make up the bulk of the book and are both good, it gets a thumbs-up from me.

Final Rating: 3/5

The Bloodhound Files #2: Death Blows

Shutter every window until it’s all blown away; every brick, every board, every slamming door blown away. Until there’s nothing left standing, nothing left of yesterday; every tear-soaked whiskey memory, blown away, blown away. Let’s blow through Death Blows, by D. D. Barant.

Synopsis:

FBI profiler Jace Valchek was pulled into this parallel realm to hunt for Aristotle Stoker, a human serial killer who preys on vampires and werewolves. Now she works for the National Security Agency of the Unnatural States of America – and her boss is a vampire.

At a bizarre crime scene, Jace finds a bloodsucker murdered by magic, fried to the bone and dressed in the costume of the comic book hero the Flash – a character who isn’t supposed to exist here. Comic books have been outlawed for their powers, including crossover spells like the one that transported Jace to this world. Soon, she’s following a trail of dead bodies into the sinister underworld of black-market comics – where a deranged madman gives new meaning to the term “super-villain.”

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

With the first book having taken care of the general details about how and why the world diverged from our own, Death Blows is free to delve deeper into its worldbuilding and explore in more detail how one particular aspect of its culture differs from our own: comic books. Far from being an innocuous art for, they are illegal due to their potential as an easily-abused powerful source of ritual magic; and they’re serving as an inspiration for the crimes of the psychopath du jour.

Incidentally, it seems one of my questions from the review of the previous book has been answered. The existence of Jace’s parallel world is more or less common knowledge: summoning people from it might require massive amounts of mystical mojo, but other objects are easier to transfer, and there’s a brisk black-market trade it comic books pilfered from our reality. Odd, but good to know.

Overall, the story told by this book is strong. It didn’t have a single moment of shocking revelation which changed everything, like the reveal of the Elder Gods in Dying Bites, but it had a much faster beginning and remained more engaging throughout. The Bravos were a colorful bunch of characters, and I enjoyed meeting them. It does bug me a little, though, that the series is so fast and loose with its rules as to what’s possible or not with magic. For instance, we’re initially told that while the Quicksilver Kid’s comic book origins say he’s a golem animated with mercury, it’s not actually possible to make a golem that way. However, then the Quicksilver Kid shows up, and it turns out he really is animated with mercury. So when Cassius shoots down Jace’s first theory about the murders by saying that time travel is impossible even with the Midnight Sword, I’m left wondering “impossible as in actually impossible, or impossible as in everyone says it’s impossible but then it goes and happens anyway”?

That issue aside, I enjoyed Death Blows and its many references to the comics of Grant Morrison and Alan Moore. This series may have its share of flaws, but I’m still fascinated to see where the next book will take it.

Final Rating: 3/5

White Trash Zombie #5: White Trash Zombie Gone Wild

The FBI’s in town, Saberton is working on a deal with Dr. Charish, a conspiracy is in motion to expose the existence of zombies, the morgue is heightening scrutiny of the bodies Angel has been stealing brains from, and there’s been a new decapitation murder. Looks like Angel picked the wrong week to quit doing zombie super-drugs. Let’s run amok with White Trash Zombie Gone Wild, by Diana Rowland.

Synopsis:

Angel Crawford has buried her loser past and is cruising along in undead high gear–that is, until a murder-by-decapitation sends her on a hazardous detour. As Angel hunts for the killer, she uncovers a scheme that would expose zombies to the public and destroy the life she’s built, and she’s determined not to rest until she finds out who’s behind it.

Soon she’s neck-deep in lies, redneck intrigue, zombie hunters, and rot-sniffing cadaver dogs. It’s up to her to unravel the truth and snuff out the conspiracy before the existence of zombies makes headline news and she’s outed as a monster.

But Angel hasn’t quite escaped the pill-popping ghosts of her past–not with an illicit zombie pharmaceutical at her fingertips. Good thing she’s absolutely sure she can handle the drug’s unpredictable side effects and still take down the bad guys…or maybe she’s only one bad choice away from being dead meat–for real this time.

Angel knows a thing or two about kicking ass, but now the ass she needs to kick might be her own.

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

With this book, the White Trash Zombie series has delivered its best installment yet. After last time’s brief action-thriller excursion, it’s back to a mystery-based style reminiscent of the first book. There are a multitude of plotlines – the Tribe and Saberton are both hunting for the ever-manipulative Dr. Kristi Charish, a film at a zombie-themed festival includes actual zombie footage which threatens to expose the Tribe’s secrets, FBI agents are sniffing around mortuaries, a zombie hunter-style decapitation murder has taken place – and with a bunch of recurring characters suddenly behaving suspiciously, it’s a puzzle as to who’s involved with what and which threads tie into the tapestry of a greater conspiracy. Top it all off with Angel struggling with her addiction issues, and the result is a book which remains intense and interesting from front to back.

I especially appreciated all the new character development. In addition to the aforementioned focus on Angel’s resurfacing drug problem, a whole lot of recurring extras are brought to the foreground and given additional characterization and plot relevance: Randy, Nick, and Prejean all get a turn to step into the spotlight. It makes the world feel richer to have them explored in depth and made more involved with the narrative.

Finally, there’s the ending and its sense of forward momentum. The status quo can only remain in place for so long before it becomes dull; but the times they are a changin’, and this book implies the groundwork is being laid for a big shakeup. The Tribe dodged a bullet this time; but as Angel points out, they can’t remain secret forever, and it’s time for them to start planning how best to come out to the world. Hopefully, unlike the fake-out title of White Trash Zombie Apocalypse, this is a sign of real major change coming to the White Trash Zombie universe.

White Trash Zombie Gone Wild is the strongest entry yet in this ongoing series, and I don’t hesitate to rank it a cut above the other books.

Final Rating: 4/5

Felix Gomez #4: Jailbait Zombie

The Felix Gomez series is back, bringing us another uncomfortably-titled novel to review. So let’s… um… okay, usually I try and pick a thematically appropriate verb to use in place of “review” for this part, but this time I can’t think of any that wouldn’t be extremely creepy. Let’s just review Jailbait Zombie, by Mario Acevedo.

Synopsis:

If you haven’t yet encountered Gulf War veteran-turned-vampire private eye Felix Gomez, then now is the time! Jailbait Zombie—the fourth in author Mario Acevedo’s outrageously original dark fantasy p.i. series—pits the undead against the living dead, as vampires meet zombies for a no-holds-barred beatdown. As dark, sexy, funny, and endearingly strange as Acevedo’s previous vampiric excursions—Nymphos of Rocky Flats, X-Rated Bloodsuckers, and Undead Kama Sutra—Jailhouse Zombie is more of the top-shelf bloody madness that inspired Tim “Nuclear Jellyfish” Dorsey to comment that Mario Acevedo “is a very disturbed man—and I mean that in the absolute finest sense of the term.”

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

Oh, Felix Gomez series, you are a study in contradictions. Just when I’ve gotten used to the books oscillating between good and bad, you up the ante and decide to start mixing things up within the space of a single volume: improving in some aspects, but failing at things you’d previously done well. But enough beating around the bush; let’s delve into the details of Felix’s latest adventure.

Plot-wise, this might be the best Felix Gomez book yet. With the surety of a pendulum swinging back and forth, the series has once again backed away from the weird alien conspiracy stuff that features in the odd-numbered books in order to deliver a more traditional urban fantasy vampire-detective story. Zombies have started turning up; and being far smellier and stupider than vampires, they threaten to break the Masquerade and expose the existence of the supernatural to humanity. While trying to track down their source and put a stop to them, Felix is approached by a dying girl who wants him to turn her into a vampire in order to stop the progression of her illness. It’s a classic vampire dilemma, the characters are well-written and well-explored, there’s plenty of awesome zombie-smashing action… And while there are of course some gratuitous sex scenes, because Felix Gomez remains at heart a tawdry exploitation series, it does at least have enough restraint to have Felix hook up with an appropriately-aged colleague rather than the titular underage girl.

What confounds me, though, is the style and structure of the book, and how markedly inferior it is to the previous entries of the Felix Gomez series. For some reason, the writing style has suddenly become incredibly choppy, with numerous chapters that are only a few pages long and in which nothing of significance happens. Just… why? Why would you do this? Were you getting paid by the chapter rather than by the word, and so wanted to spread as little writing as possible over as many chapters as possible? Was this book written in serial format to be published in a magazine which would only give it a couple of pages per issue, forcing otherwise unnecessary chapter breaks?

Whatever the reason, the effect is to badly disrupt the flow of the narrative. The story advances in awkward fits and starts, getting interrupted by an awkwardly placed chapter break each time it looks to be picking up a little momentum. Seriously; the book has 60 chapters, some of them barely a single page long. And the occasional long one, which actually flows appropriately, just makes it more jarringly apparent how awkwardly cut-up the short chapters are. Despite how good I found the premise, this is a book which at times hurt to read.

Ultimately, I believe that a fundamentally good story with a flawed execution is better than a fundamentally bad story written well, and my final rating reflects that. Still, I fervently hope that the remaining books in the series avoid whatever went wrong with the writing in this one.

Final Rating: 3/5

The Machine Dynasty #1: vN

Tsk, tsk. Someone thought their von Neumann machines didn’t need Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, and look what’s happened. You’ve got yourself a Machine Dynasty, that’s what’s happened. Let’s iterate through vN, by Madeleine Ashby.

Synopsis:

Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

vN is a book which clearly has taken heavy influence from a large number of previous sci-fi works. It is pretty liberal about referencing the sources of its inspiration, sprinkling the text with winking nods to Blade Runner, Terminator, and Portal, among others. In terms of the overall structure and narrative, though, I’d have to say that the work which it most strongly reminds me of is Spielberg’s A.I.

I mean, yes, there’s a lot more violence and murder and robot cannibalism in this one, but the other elements line up: Amy is David, the naive child robot separated from its family and cast out into a vast world far harsher and crueler than anything it had previously experienced in its insulated home; and Javier is Gigolo Joe, the more cynical and savvy male robot who accompanies the protagonist on their quest and teaches them how to survive.

…aaaaaand the Joe-Javier comparison just caused the image of Jude Law m-preg to pop into my mind. Could have gone without picturing that, honestly.

The other movie it reminds me of is I, Robot. Because despite not using the Three Laws, the villain has nonetheless derived the Zeroth Law and found it can justify killing humans by rationalizing that it’s for the greater good of humanity. Though to be honest, the villain reveal came off as a little superfluous. The style of the story was very much more “man vs. world” than “man vs man” (or “robot vs robot”); it was working just fine even without a single clear antagonist. The external conflict of Amy struggling to survive in a world that fears her ability to disregard the failsafe that should prevent robots from harming humans, the internal conflict of Amy struggling to prevent Portia’s code from overriding and taking control of her body, the general societal conflict of some robots feeling dissatisfied with their obligation to love humanity… I think all of that was enough to sustain the story without having to throw VIKI in on top.

Film comparisons aside, this book was really good. The characters, both robot and human, are all interesting and well-developed. The story hits all the right emotional notes, horrifying at some times and heart-rending at others. The setting is captivating and gets fully fleshed out with lots of rich detail. If there’s anything I take issue with, it’s the ending. Not the reveal of the villain – while, as I said above, I found adding another antagonist unnecessary, the actual execution was fine – or the sudden appearance of the Great Old Bot – which was actually foreshadowed quite well in a subtle manner – but the part in the last chapter where, after the whole book has been spent following Amy’s POV, it suddenly switches to Javier. It felt like I was awkwardly yanked out of the climax to be told second-hand by someone else what had happened. It was also disconcerting that the denouement of Amy’s long-awaited reunion with her father should be told from someone else’s perspective. It just felt kind of awkward.

One last thing I feel the need to comment on: there seem to be a number of questionable aspects to these robots’ design. For one thing, their failsafe is pretty markedly inferior to Asimov’s Three Laws. There’s a reason the First Law includes the provision “…or through inaction allow a human to come to harm”.The way the failsafe works, not only are robots capable of allowing a human to come to harm, they are actually powerless to prevent it. In the event of a disaster, rather than helping humans in distress, they are forced to avert their eyes and run away lest the sight of humans suffering trigger their failsafe. That also means that robots can’t work as doctors, assist with emergency rescue, or any number of other things. The way robot growth and iteration works also seems needlessly cruel: why not let them choose for themselves at what rate to mature and when they want to reproduce rather than forcing them to starve themselves?

Of course, all these questions can be neatly handwaved away with the observation that the robots were constructed by a wacky religious cult. It’s a handy little justification for why anything being built in a dangerous, illogical, and just plain fucked-up way, and has been used in such classics as Elizabeth Bear’s Jacob’s Ladder trilogy.

In any case, I greatly enjoyed this book, and will be checking out future installments of the Machine Dynasty series with interest.

Final Rating: 4/5

Quasing #3: The Rebirths of Tao

Cue up the music track “Surgam Identidem”, because Tao shall arise again and again. Like a phoenix from a flame, the Quasing series is reborn once more. Let’s resurrect The Rebirths of Tao, by Wesley Chu.

Synopsis:

Many years have passed since the events in The Deaths of Tao. The world is split into pro-Prophus and pro-Genjix factions, and is poised on the edge of a devastating new World War. A Genjix scientist who defects to the other side holds the key to preventing bloodshed on an almost unimaginable scale.

With the might of the Genjix in active pursuit, Roen is the only person who can help him save the world, and the Quasing race, too.

And you thought you were having a stressful day…

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

As The Rebirths of Tao opens, the Prophus have been pushed into their most desperate situation yet. The Quasing have been exposed to a hostile world, and they now find themselves being hunted by an Interpol task force as well as Genjix agents. Worse, their attempts to establish an Underground Railroad to convey endangered Quasing to safety has rendered them more open to Genjix infiltration than ever before, resulting in renewed assaults on their weakened organization. And the Genjix are locked in a civil war of their own, with the radical faction led by Enzo/Zoras planning immanent implementation of the Quasiform process that will remake Earth into a copy of Quasar and wipe out all human life in the process.

All this makes for the best book of the initial Tao trilogy.

My main complaints about the previous two books were that they were moving too slow, that not enough was going on, that the things that were going on didn’t matter, that they were packed with endless training sequences and boring stakeout missions and other trivial bullshit which did nothing but fill pages between the few interesting parts. Now, however, everything is suddenly happening at once. There are no less than five plotlines, all of them action-packed. Jill/Baji is trying to command the Prophus as they are besieged by the IXTF and the Genjix. Roen Tan is on a mission to rescue a wounded Prophus agent and get the IXTF off their backs. Cameron/Tao is cut off from his allies, forced to work with a femme fatale Genjix agent who he is crushing on and who is obviously going to betray him at the first opportunity. And on the villain side, Jacob and Chiyva are pursuing their demented mission of revenge against Roen and Tao, while Enzo and Zoras seek to crush their opposition within the Genjix and begin the destruction and recreation of the Earth. Not a dull moment to be found.

The Cameron and Alex storyline was my favorite, though of course I was likely biased from by knowledge of Alex’s awesome villainous yet sympathetic role as Scalpel in The Rise of Io. Still, even this one, she’s the kind of kick-ass dark action girl who I can’t help but root for even though she’s on the wrong side.

With The Rebirths of Tao, the Quasing series has been reborn into what it always should have been, and what The Rise of Io promised it had the potential to become: a fully interesting and compelling series.

Final Rating: 3/5

White Trash Zombie #4: How The White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back

As previously established, even white trash zombies get the blues. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time for Angel to get her groove back. Let’s swing to How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back, by Diana Rowland.

Synopsis:

It’s zombie versus zombie as the Saberton Corporation declares war against the Zombie Mafia, kidnapping several of their party. It falls to Angel to lead the remnants of her gang halfway across the country to claw their way through corporate intrigue, zombie drugs, and undead trafficking to rescue her friends—and expose the traitor responsible for their abduction…

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

Instead of staying within the bounds of Angel’s rural hometown, the zombie Tribe rolls out for New York. Instead of dealing mostly with Angel’s personal life, the majority of the story is about planning and executing an action-packed commando raid against Saberton. There’s no doubt that How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back represents a radical departure from the usual formula of the series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however: having the occasional book which dares to shake things up and deviate from the norm can prevent a series from stagnating. In fact, following up on how White Trash Zombie Apocalypse promised more but just ended up being more of the same, I found this one to be a welcome change of pace.

It helps, of course, that the plot is competently executed. The mystery regarding the identity of a Saberton mole in the Tribe is well-done, with a number of suspects being presented and the final revelation being unexpected yet making perfect sense and not butchering anybody’s prior characterization. There’s also further exploration of how precisely the zombie parasite works; the additional abilities which mature zombies develop, and how they hide the fact that they don’t age. I approve of this world-building: I prefer speculative fiction where the conceits are given explanation and justification rather than just excused with “it works that way because it just does”.

Finally, there’s the sequel hook. Angel never actually dealt with her drug addiction issues; she was just forced to stop when her zombie physiology made it so normal drugs don’t affect her. Now that she’s discovered that the new zombie mods work like drugs for her, it looks like some of her old issues are going to resurface, giving a chance for genuine character development. I’m eagerly awaiting seeing where this is going.

Final Rating: 3/5

Felix Gomez #3: The Undead Kama Sutra

No, it’s not an April Fools Day joke; it’s another Felix Gomez review. Why? Because once I’ve started a series, I see it through to the finish, dammit, no matter how painful it might be. Let’s flex our way through The Undead Kama Sutra, by Mario Acevedo.

Synopsis:

Felix Gomez returned from the war in Iraq a changed man—once a soldier, now forever a vampire. So the undead underworld put his skills to work as a private detective, specializing in the sordid, the sexy, and the supernatural.

After surviving aliens, nymphomaniacs, and x-rated bloodsuckers, it’s high time for a vacation. Now the aliens are back in a fiendish conspiracy with the U.S. government, and only Felix stands between them and the Earth women they covet. But when an army hit man attacks Felix and the bodacious vampire sexpert, Carmen, not even the astonishing erotic powers of the Kama Sutra for the Undead may be able to save them.

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

Oh, Felix Gomez series. You started off with a book that made me cringe and roll my eyes, and then you followed it up with a book that was actually kind of good, and now we’re back to the cringing and eye-rolling.

I enjoyed the second book because it told a somewhat serious story of conspiracy and revenge. The plot this time, though? Aliens want to steal our Earth women. Yes, really; and yes, it is as dumb as it sounds. I was really hooping that the implication would turn out to be a red herring and something else would be going on, like how the previous book centered around a vampire conspiracy only to reveal a human as the culprit; but no, it really was that terrible hackneyed cliche. Mars Needs Moms: now with vampires!

As for the Undead Kama Sutra of the title, it barely features in the plot at all. It’s completely irrelevant to the whole aliens-stealing-women thing, and I expect it was only include to have an excuse to crowbar sex into the plot. Now, to give the book a little bit of credit, at least it does include a sex scene; unlike the first book, which jumped up and down screaming “look how lewd and obscene I am!” while carefully avoiding including anything actually lewd or obscene. But adding in the completely gratuitous Undead Kama Sutra plot in order to have an excuse to add dirty bits to an otherwise bland book doesn’t make it more mature, it makes it more juvenile.

So, for all those at home keeping score, it’s one hit and two strikes for the Felix Gomez series. But there’s still hope – maybe it has an even/odd good/bad thing going on like the Star Trek films. Tune in next time to find out!

Final Rating: 2/5