Review: Make Me by Parker Blue

Saturday, July 21, 2012
Title: Make Me
Author: Parker Blue
Genre: young-adult, supernatural fiction
Series: The Demon Underground #4
Pages: 224 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: April 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1.5/5

Shapiro has a secret she’s desperate to keep—she’s lost her slayer powers. As the new guardian of the Encyclopedia Magicka, Val expected the books to give her powers to replace those that disappeared after she lost her “V card” to Shade. But the encyclopedia exacts a price for every spell, making the job of guardian a tricky proposition.

When a rogue demon kidnaps Val’s roommate Gwen and Micah, leader of the San Antonio Demon Underground, Val is plunged into the middle of a Solomon’s Choice. The rogue wants the dangerously potent Encyclopedia Magicka in exchange for her friends’ lives; the succubus leader of the Demon Underground in Austin is demanding the books be destroyed rather than let them fall into the wrong hands and wants Shade for herself, swearing to do everything she can to prevent Val’s turning over the books.

The kidnapping isn’t the only crisis Val faces. She’s been betrayed by Fang. Demons and vampires are disappearing. The vamps of the New Blood Movement are forcing Val to keep the terms of her agreement to work for them to combat this new threat.

The Demon Underground is challenging Micah's leadership, and everyone is depending on a now-powerless Val to set things right. Val needs all the help she can get. Even if it means forgiving Fang and spending time with a dangerously sexy cowboy-vampire.

My overall enjoyment with this series has severely decreased with each subsequent volume, and Make Me is no exception.  Many of the previously mostly enjoyable characters change drastically for no (or a supremely stupid) reason (Val, Shade, especially, come to mind), the pacing is off (very noticeable and distracting in the first and last segments), the uneven POV shifts from first person to third person omniscient, certain elements feel shoe-horned in and pretty deux-ex-machina-y (the Super Succubus thing), and... I was bored. A lot. Initially a charming if somewhat formulaic series about a teenage vampire Slayer, the Demon Underground series has grown bloated and boring. This is one of the novels I've gone back and forth on rating - from a 2 to a 1, finally meeting in the middle at 1.5 stars. There was literally nothing about this fourth foray into Val Shapiro's life that I enjoyed.

I hate not loving books I expect to enjoy. The first three (Bite Me, Try Me, Fang Me) were never the most original or innovative of the young-adult paranormal genre, but they were snarky and often funny, with a strong and decisive protagonist. The reads of the the first three sped be on the strength of Val, her inner monologue and Fang, the talking mind-reading hellhound. Now, that previously strong girl has morphed into a whiny, annoying and often harebrained version of the girl who used to be Val Shapiro. A love triangle and stupid assumptions mar a lot of what good Val does bring to the table; I won't deny I still like reading about can-do girls who can defend themselves, but I wish so much time hadn't been spent on melodrama and boy troubles. 

I had issues with the style and presentation of the novel and its plot from the beginning. Ones I don't recall having with the previous three, which either means this seriees is somewhat forgettable (true) or that something has changed, or I've just outgrown these particular books (entirely possible). For one thing, I hate hate hate when authors jump between first and third POVs for character narration. It's weird to be in the head of Val and then in the next chapter, be jerked to distantly viewing Micah and his subplot. It just doesn't work; it causes a problem in my reading and in also how I relate to and invest in the characters involved. I don't care what one the author chooses, but it should be one and it should be used for the entirety of the novel. Sure there are some authors and characters that could pull off the dichotomy, but Val and Parker Blue are not among them. 

I'm not even going to go into the myriad other problems I had with this book because I'm underwhelmed, disappointed and frustrated. I'm done. All I can really say is that I won't be reading the inevitable fifth addition to this series.

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