Supporting Cast Stole the Show

Dark Lover - J.R. Ward

My Initial Reaction…

You ever leave a book and think, “man, I wish I’d gotten a bit less of the main characters and a bit more the supporting characters”? That was my feeling at the end of Dark Lover. I loved the world building and mythology, I loved pretty much ALL the supporting cast. I just never fell for the leading male – Wrath – or the TSTL heroine – Beth.

 

The Narration…

Jim Frangione is both great and horrible. LOL let me explain. For the male characters he was pretty much spot on. There was great variance between the different male voices, great emotional expression, and appropriate pacing. But then we get the women. Jim is a narrator that, in my opinion, should be paired with a female narrator. Because he cannot do female voices. I think, his one saving grace, is that he seems to be aware of this and doesn’t really even try. Their voices are different – a little softer, sometimes a bit squeaky (because apparently that’s feminine?) – but for the most part, they just sound like quieter men. I’m torn on whether I will continue listening – I don’t think it hurt the book for me in the long run, though I do wonder if it made it that much harder for me to connect to Beth.

 

The Characters…

Let me start with the two central characters – who you already know I don’t love. Wrath is the leader of the brotherhood – and basically king of the vampires, though in title only – and for the word go, you get the sense that he is all tough and rough – without a gentle bone in his body. It’s quite clear though that we’re supposed to connect with him because he has this softer, more vulnerable side. For some reason, that never happened fully for me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate or even dislike Wrath by the end of the book (I did hate him early on, to be fair), I just didn’t love him. His softer side didn’t really work for me because it either felt like he was just feeling sorry for himself (there’s this scene where he “opens up” to Beth and I rolled my eyes at least 100x!) or it hasn’t something to do with his ridiculous insta-love / testosterone driven “ownership” (for lack of a better word) of Beth. Both annoyed me and didn’t make me completely fall for his softer side. And his rough side – well let’s say he really could be an ass. But frankly, his regret at being an ass towards Fitz or Tor spoke to me more than his softness toward Beth. It felt so much more sincere. Like this is a guy who doesn’t want to be an ass, he’s just awkward as all hell.

 

And then there’s Beth. I liked Beth, probably more than Wrath. She’s an independent woman and she’s had a hard life as an orphan that has left some scars. There are some really truly great moments when she’s with… well just about everyone BUT Wrath… that I enjoyed seeing. Beth, though, suffers from what has been called TSTL Syndrome, or Too Stupid To Live Syndrome. Beth just made one stupid decision after another. What made it worse, was that generally speaking, her stupid actions worked out most the time. So I rolled my eyes right out of my head when it came to Beth. Oh and what’s with every male just loving her? I’m telling you, she had men falling all over the place for her and it just got way old.

 

On the other hand, I pretty much ADORED the supporting characters. The Brothers all clearly have interesting stories and histories and I want to get to know them better. Especially Tor and Zadist – there the ones I want to know the most. I also had a soft spot for Butch, a police detective that is friends with Beth (and would perhaps like a bit more – which I routed for!). He has a story that we get bits and pieces of and I would really like to know better. And then there’s Marissa, Wrath’s blood donor basically. She’s supposed to be so much more, but he has never cared for her and treats her like a blood donor. I felt so bad for her most the book – even though, to be fair, it’s not all Wrath’s fault – and it didn’t help me like Wrath any better. Her’s is a story I’d really like to know better. Oh and then there’s Ftiz – the butler. He was most definitely my favorite character in Dark Lover. He’s just so warm and loving to everyone. And he has these little comedic moments, where he’s not trying to be funny at all, but I laughed my ass off. A really fantastic supporting cast.

 

The Story…

The story for Dark Lover had a lot of high points for me, though it kind of ended on a lackluster note for me. The basic premise surrounds Beth, who (unbeknownst to her) is getting ready to go through the change to become a vampire. Wrath has been asked by Beth’s father to help her with the transition and that’s what brings him into her life. In addition to her change, though, is what’s going on in the human world. There’s been a string of recent murders and the detectives are getting closer and closer to their supernatural community in their efforts to solve the mystery. We know what’s going on all along and it’s like watching an inevitable car crash… that never happens. Which is good for a car crash, but not so great for Dark Lover. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the final events of the book were extremely anti-climatic for me. I wanted to see Beth get all bad-ass, but she doesn’t. And I thought there was going to be like an epic battle, but really it was just a fight at best.

 

What I absolutely loved about Dark Lover was the incredible world building and I suspect that that’s why the story was a little lack luster. I’ll forgive that, because the world promises some incredible books in the future. The vampire mythology is like nothing I’ve ever read (which is saying something) and I’m really excited about what’s to come in future books, based on how things were setup. I also hear that future books switch to the other Brother’s lives, so thank heavens for that.

 

Concluding Sentiments…

Although this wasn’t my most favorite read, I’m excited about the world Dark Lover introduced me to and love most the characters. I look forward to exploring the Brotherhood even more in the future.

 

*This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.*

Source: http://fantasyismorefun.com/2014/02/dark-lover-j-r-ward-audio-review.html