The highly anticipated 4th novel of the Chicagoland Vampire Series, Hard Bitten, totally changes the game. This book focused a great deal more on the politics side of things. The vampires have been out, and now the shapeshifters follow. That’s naturally going to be alarming for normal humans, so they have been protesting against all supernaturals–that they know of that least. To complicate matters even further, three women have gone missing after a secret vampire bloodletting soirée turns violent. It’s up to Ethan and Merit to get to the bottom of it because the higher ups (namely the Mayor) don’t plan to stand for it.
She teams up with Jonah, a Red Guard member (from an organization that wants to recruit Merit), and together they discover a new drug that’s out on the streets affecting the vampires. This is the last thing the vampire community needs as it will validate human fears. Merit faces a lot of danger as she digs deeper to discover the root of the problem and who’s causing it. Who can she trust?
I know that a lot of readers are split on how they felt about this book, but it wasn’t the end that lost me. It never had me to begin with. I feel like I’m experiencing a delayed reaction; everything I found irritating this time around has pretty much always been there. So I guess it’s not Neill, it’s me.
I’m really picky about my vampires (as if my screen name wasn’t an obvious indication), so I sort of felt like you could have taken the vampire aspect out of this book and everything would virtually be the same. Ethan doesn’t feel that badass to me. We know he is old and strong, but he never really exudes the maturity I would expect from a supernatural being that’s lived for centuries. He talks the talk, but he just doesn’t have that swagger. I realize my opinion probably goes against the grain, but I’m being honest.
And of course Merit and Ethan’s relationship was a bit confusing, if not annoying. In the previous book they’re together, then he breaks it off until the end where I thought that they reconciled. Turns out that wasn’t quite the case in this book and it’s Merit that has the problem. She obviously loves him, and he realized his mistake, so what’s the big deal? Just be together and make that one less complication to deal with since they have plenty of them. I prefer Morgan anyway (at least from the first book) because I found their interactions fun and sexy, but I digress.
There were times that Merit came off as a dormitory RA rather than a sentinel for me. The action sequences are few and far in-between and it took too long to get to the point. The Cadogan setting with everybody living the dorm life is just a bit ridiculous to me now. They’re adults, some even over 100 years old. Am I supposed to believe that they’re content with 4 tiny walls as their residence for years on end? I couldn’t WAIT to move into a decent suite in college and that was after two years. I’m younger than Merit and not far removed from college myself.
I tend to like when series have an end in sight and now I’m hearing that this one will be ongoing. I don’t want to be stuck with another Hollows (though now we know when it will end), or even worse, Anita Blake. This book is way too light to really be categorized as either since it’s borderline young-adult. With that said, I still found a lot of enjoyment in the first book. It’s just that its sequels haven’t been able to recapture that same magic for me, which could be due in part to my desire for the style to evolve and mature as Merit supposedly is. It’s kind of like how I find the premise of the Vampire Diaries show so ridiculous; the cast is in their 20s-30s and still try to pass off as high schoolers, especially Damon’s character who frequents their school functions. Creeper much?
I am pretty indifferent about reading the next book, and this one leaves off definitely making you wonder what’s going to happen next, so that’s a sign that this series is no longer for me. I can imagine it will be agony for its fans. I wish this series well, and while I’m likely to at least read general spoilers about the next book, I’ll be stopping here on Merit’s journey.