Monday, 17 September 2012

Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Kitty and the Midnight Hour
Carrie Vaughn

"Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station - and she also happens to be a werewolf. One night, sick of the usual lame song requests, she accidentally starts 'The Midnight Hour', a late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Almost immediately she's deluged by calls from desperate vampires, werewolves and witches from all across the country, wanting to share their woes and ask her advice. Kitty's new show is a raging success, but it's Kitty herself who could use some help, not least because her monthly change is a deep and dark secret to all but a very special few. And when she finds one very sexy werewolf-hunter on her tail, not to mention a few homicidal undead, she realises she may just may have bitten off more than she can chew . . ."

After the incredibly enjoyable but weighty (both thematically and literally) I needed an excuse to switch off my brain and nothing could have fit the bill better than this novel. This is a book which requires no human thought process whatsoever.

I should say, in all fairness, for a book about a werewolf that hosts a radio talk show, it’s not terrible written. That’s not the same as saying it’s well written, but I’ve read worse. However, characters are two dimensional, Kitty at least has some amount of character arcing but it’s probably the minimum that it would be possible to get away with. Everyone else however is completely 2D or flips from one extreme of an arc to another in the time it takes to read a sentence. Cormac the bounty hunter is the best example, going from cold blooded killer to Kitty’s best friend in two pages.

One of my pet hates also runs rampant as not one single character bats an eyelid when they find out that Kitty is a werewolf. The sentence, “But there’s no such thing as werewolves” is said by no one in this book. Between her parents and her co-workers no human character in the novel shows any trepidation about this revelation. In fact, the police officer in the story takes about two minutes in going from, not thinking werewolves exist to realising that every unsolved murder in Denver history was the work of the supernatural beasts.
Over the whole cast the only character to have any reaction to Kitty’s lycanthropy is Kitty herself, and even then, she sees it more as a nuisance than any cause for concern.
I understand that you can’t have everybody in a novel going into shock at the mention of werewolves but is it too much to ask to have one person just stop to think it over for two minutes?

One of the odd things about the book is that half the calls Kitty takes on her shows are normal people with questions that Kitty cruelly cuts down by saying not to “believe everything you read in the stories”. This is odd because everything we’re told about werewolves and vampires is taken straight from those very stories. Wolves can only be killed by silver bullets, vampires killed by stakes, burned by crosses and the sun. Other stories dealing with these myths, like twilight or the Darren Shan saga, tend to come up with their own explanations for these myths. Here, Carrie Vaughn makes fun of these tropes but accepts every one of them without question and without offering any explanation.  

There are another couple of things, the book is told from a first person perspective in the past tense, when Kitty switches to wolf however it switches to third person in the present tense. This could have been an interesting style choice were it not for the switch to present tense. Books are rarely told in present tense and with good reason. It’s not an easy way to read and takes much of the enjoyment out of the act for me.
Also, in the course of this review I have made one reference to the term lycanthrope. Lycanthrope is a hard word to drop naturally into conversation which is why it should be used sparingly. Vaughn drops it into her novel at an alarming rate and ends up with large chunks of the text feeling out of place and jarring.

I know I’m not the target audience for this novel but I should still be able to enjoy it. Sadly, I just didn’t. The book feels like it should be a book for upper teens and would be marketed as such were it not for the terribly written sex scenes (I won’t get into those). Overall the book just feels like a quick reaction to twilight, written to buy into a trend rather than tell a decent story. There’s about ten books in this series though so I suppose that must be working, it’s just not for me. Off to the charity shop it goes and I feel sorry for whoever picks it up.

The radio station Kitty works for is called KNOB, now I know the book is American and it’s not a slang term there….but I just couldn’t take it seriously. Sorry.

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