books: 12 (only 11 were published at the time of this writing, the 12th has since come out)
pages: thousands upon thousands
There are 12 books in this series and I read the 11 that are currently published in a whirlwind. These are the type of books women read discretely on their Kindles. They follow the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a band of vampires that protects the Earth from the Lessening Society. Each book focuses on a different vampire as they find true love and sex. Although each book focuses on a different character, the books all include varying viewpoints.
So many things in these books were stupid. First, the names of the characters: Vishous, Phury, Tohrment, Qhuinn, Rhage, Rehvenge, Tehrorr, etc. Here’s a tip J.R. Ward, you can’t turn a word into a name just by adding an “H.” Two names were particularly galling: 1) Zsadist, which is clearly a play on the word “sadist.” “Sadist” comes from the Marquis de Sade, who was alive in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. However, these vampires were supposed to be hundreds of years old. How could Zsadist be named after someone that didn’t even exist until after he was born? 2) Wrath. You’ve probably noticed that the other names were misspelled. Wrath, however, was spelled correctly. So was that an intentional non-misspelling or does Ward not know how to spell the word “wrath?”
A second major problem was the way the men treated the women and the way the author treated femininity. The men fight, drink, have sex, and are basically brutes. And for some reason, in every book, a woman is ready and willing to fall in love with them. Unfortunately, the women usually don’t get a chance to do anything fun and instead are described as either working, being with their man, or sitting at home.
Also, sometimes the different plot lines were seemingly not on the same time line. The most egregious example involved a character, John Matthew, getting married in front of all the other characters, with Wrath officiating the ceremony. Ostensibly, at the exact same time, Wrath was sparring with, and mortally wounding, Payne, who was then languishing in the hospital with many of the characters at her bedside.
Notwithstanding everything I just said, these books were a lot of fun. I didn’t care too much about the overarching narrative of the series, but the relationships were entertaining. Many of the blooming duos were exciting, especially Qhuinn and Blaylock; however, some were downright boring (cough Wrath and Beth cough). Additionally, Ward actually created a fairly detailed world with an origin story, consisting of the Scribe Virgin; a cogent enemy, the Lessening Society; and its own rules and rituals.
However, Ward’s writing is not what I would call good. For example, here is an attempt at humor:
Great record to break there. Kind of like winning the fifty-meter ass-stroke in the Loser-lympics.
Also, no matter the inner monologue or alleged personality of a character, everyone spoke in the same high-octane, expletive-laden dialogue. But Ward did display a passion for the plot and the characters that was infectious and had me nodding my head along to sentences such as:
The images of Blay shaking his head was like a scar on Qhuinn’s brain, and didn’t that just carry him right out the far side of the kitchen to the storage room where the cases of alcohol were kept.
If you liked Fifty Shades or any vampire book ever, you will probably enjoy this series. If you’re looking for inspirational literature or marginally appropriate views on gender, then just keep right on walking.
3/6: more good than bad
Reviews of various books in the series: