No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole is said, on Amazon, to be book #2 of a series. On Cole's official website she states this is book #3 of the series. In either case, it's not the first book. Unfortunately for me, someone recommended I read this book without warning me it was jumping into the middle of the storyline. I definitely felt the issues. It was so challenging that a few chapters in I went googling the book to figure out if it WAS part of a series because so many important things were being skimmed over. While some series-books can be read in any order, I highly suggest you start at the beginning with this one. Otherwise things will feel fairly rushed and jumbled.

No Rest for the Wicked So, that being said, what is No Rest for the Wicked about? You've got your heroine, Kaderin, an immortal Valkyrie. Her purpose in life is to slay vampires, and she's been doing that quite well with sword in hand for over 1,000 years. She's been cold and methodical about her pursuits after losing two dear sisters to a vampire she trusted. Of course, as we follow the story, Kaderin promptly falls hard for a gorgeous vampire named Sebastian. He's fairly young - only a few centuries old - and he's unhappy about being a vampire. However, meeting Kaderin gives him new reason to live. Or to remain undead :).

I've certainly read enough vampire-style stories that much of this here is fairly old hat. Brooding, powerful vampires. Feisty, gorgeous werewolves. Fairy-style females who can hold their own. Cole seems to aim to distinguish herself from the others by having rampant graphic sexual scenes and a supremely b*tchy female lead. Cole seems to feel that the only way to show a woman can be powerful is for her to be nasty, demeaning, and condescending to others.

Yes, some can argue that Kaderin has been locking away her emotions for hundreds of years because of the guilt she felt over causing the death of her sisters. But, really, she hasn't matured in all of that time? She treats the Valkyrie house as a den of snipy sorority sisters. They act like thirteen year olds, obsessing over breasts and butts, and sighing that "the vampire was undeniably hot" or someone is "gorgeous to a near freakish degree". These are immortals who have been everywhere and seen everything? They both crave sex at every turn and also snidely dismiss other women as being "little hookers" and an "easy lay" for their sexual interests. Either this world is one where sex is normal and natural, or it's one where they're prudes. It doesn't make sense, world-wise, to have it both ways.

Having started in book #2 (or #3 depending on the source), it's hard for me to know how much of the truncated descriptions were because these topics were fleshed out in earlier books and how much was poor editing. A key feature in this book is a world-wide treasure hunt that many of the various characters are participating in. However, rather than this being described to us readers in an engaging, enthralling way, we merely get to hear that this is "basically a deadly immortal version of The Amazing Race". That felt shallow and unappealing. In looking at the descriptions for "The Warlord Wants Forever" and "A Hunger Like No Other" (books 1 and 2) I don't see any mention in there of this race being a key plot point. So if this race is being introduced as a key event here, it definitely should have gotten more build-up.

While some reviews talk about the "scorching sex", we have their first encounter where the vamp literally grinds against the heroine until he explodes in his pants. And then we have lots of brooding looks. There are so many talented writers out there who create scenes dripping in passion. Again, it felt to me like a teenager fantasy, one that fits in with groping frantically at a drive-in. It doesn't match up to heroes and heroines who have been around for centuries. Yes, I understand that the vampire hadn't had many experiences in that time - but he was still *mature*. He had lived life. He was a scholar. He had gone through all the normal trials and tribulations and challenges in life which bring with them a sense of centeredness.

On one hand, I could say, maybe this book is aimed at thirteen year olds. Maybe it's meant for kids who are just at that stage where boobs and butts are exciting and cool, where grinding together clothed is the ultimate in wild, and where the obsession is about getting the "cutest guy" or the "hottest chick". Maybe having this push-pull relationship with sex where one both craves it and then puts down people who crave it in the same breath is part of the maturation process. Maybe by reading this book, a girl in that age group can see similarities to their own issues and begin to think about them.

But even if I were going to say that, I am strongly against the underlying premise that for a woman to be strong she has to be nasty, cruel, and rude - and that the men in her life will simply continue to adore her and stand by her. It would be one thing if during the novel's course Kaderin finally matured, grew up (after 1,000 years??) and turned into a responsible adult. She doesn't. She seems quite set in her ways and seems to triumph in her Schadenfreudic outlook on life. She seems to feel that's the only way a woman can hold her own in the world. I heartily disagree with that premise. I think it's belittling to women to say that they can't have strength and be mature as well. With this book, we're right back to the stereotypes of Hilary Clinton being a b*tch, of The Devil Wears Prada, and so on.

So I have to say that even for its target audience the book isn't presenting a great message. There are SO many other books out there that feature vampires, werewolves, and truly strong female characters. Even if you read a new one every day, I'm not sure you'd ever have to get down to this one to make excuses for the way the main character acts.

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