Saturday, February 5, 2011

Killing Rocks by D.D. Barant

I reviewed the second book in this series, Death Blows, last spring. I didn't like it much but I'd enjoyed the first book, Dying Bites, so much that I gave the series a pass until I could read the third book and see in what direction Barant was taking the series.

Well, Killing Rocks is the third book. The only good thing I have to say about it is that it just freed up some space on my bookshelves, because it's going to the used bookstore along with the second book. I'll keep the first. I liked it.

To recap the series quickly, FBI profiler Jace Valchek has been yanked into an alternate reality by a powerful sorcerer in order to track down a serial killer. In the alternate world, humans are a protected minority species--most people are vampires or werewolves. If Jace can engineer the serial killer's capture, she can go home to her own reality. In Killing Rocks, Jace thinks she's close to getting the killer, with a bonus of capturing the rogue sorcerer who brought her to this world and can put her back. Then things go kerblooey and she's stuck in the middle of a war as the golems take over.

This book is just one deus ex machina after another. Jace does absolutely nothing--there's no reason for her to be the main character. In fact, there's really no reason for her to be in the book at all. She reacts, runs away, gets rescued repeatedly, and thinks a lot about her past for no good reason. (The irony is that last year I used Jace as an example of a smart, active urban fantasy heroine in a rant against UF where the heroines do nothing but react and get rescued.)

The ending--no lie--is taken directly from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Except in the movie, it was supposed to be ludicrous and unrealistic. Also, I cannot forgive the author's blatant maneuvering to keep Jace from resolving her problems and therefore ending the series. Barant, you're not fooling anyone.

The main problem with the book and the series, I think, is that the author has plotted it out very carefully (and I'm guessing she didn't have the overarching plot in place until after she'd finished the first book, because it's clear she keeps having to fudge to make things match up). She can't deviate from the plot, but the plot doesn't allow for Jace to actually make a difference. That's why Jace comes across as a witness to events instead of an active player. That's all she is.

And I know I've harped on this in the other DD Barant reviews, but the present tense is unnecessary and annoying. It's far worse in this book, though, since big chunks consist of flashbacks, infodumping in the form of stories and legends, and characters recounting events to other characters--all in past tense. The constant tense changes are jarring.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Lertulo's review of the first book, which he really didn't like. Frankly, after reading this third book, I see exactly where he's coming from.

B&N link


Richard said...

See? If only you'd listened to me, I could've saved you all that trouble...

K.C. Shaw said...

I wish I'd listened to you! Or at least stopped after the first book.

Emmet said...

DD Barant is a he.

K.C. Shaw said...

Thanks. That explains a lot.