Wanted: Undead or Alive by Kerrelyn Sparks
Avon (March 27, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $4.99
Favorite Lines: “Phineas didn’t want his aunt and sister to know the truth. Aunt Ruth would probably drag him into church and insist the Reverend Washington perform an exorcism on him. Luckily, the female members of his family were out of town this weekend, singing with the choir at some event in Buffalo.” (p. 2, egalley)
He’s a vampire from the big city . . .
Phineas McKinney thought New York City was tough, until he was attacked by Malcontents—evil vampires who consider mortals to be snacks. Saved by the good vampires, Phin swore to devote his now undead life to stopping the Malcontents. He’s got his job cut out for him when word comes that their enemy may be hiding in Wyoming. What does a city boy like him know about horses and campfires? Good thing he’s got Brynley Jones with him . . . if only she didn’t hate every vampire on earth.
She’s a werewolf princess . . .
Bryn believes vampires are seductive and charming, and that makes them dangerous. So she’s more than a little annoyed about teaming up with Phin, even if he is the only bloodsucker able to make her inner wolf purr. But as they hunt down the new leader of the Malcontents, danger threatens . . . and Phineas and Brynley discover a passion that will rock the foundation of their supernatural world.
Within a couple of pages it was clear to me that I was not going to appreciate book 12 in Kerrelyn Sparks’ Love at Stake series. Wanted Undead or Alive irked me to the point that I put the book down before reaching page 42. The stereotypical language and ideas used by the story’s African-American hero irked the crap out of me. First of all WTF:
“Freemont shrugged on a purple velvet jacket trimmed with faux leopard fur, then plopped a leopard-skin fedora on his head. “Now I’ll look like your agent.”
Phineas winced. “You look like a pimp.”
“Pimp? Agent? What’s the difference?” Freemont flipped up his collar. “Show me the money.”
“I know what I’m doing, bro.” He grabbed a wooden walking stick with a gold knob on the end and twirled it through is fingers. “Should I ask Leroy to loan us a few party girls for the evening? You’ll look more like a celebrity with some pretty ladies on your arm.”–p. 22
Really? Why they gotta be dumb? Nobody really thinks wearing purple velvet is fashionable, especially young black men. And to even insinuate that one has a connection to pimps with hookers was just annoying. Yeah, Sparks clears it up and says it’s all legit, but it sets the tone for Wanted: Undead or Alive. Unlike heroes of previous books in the series, Phineas and his people are cookie cutter black folks. They are uneducated inner city minorities. Fine. I’m from that crowd and I don’t know anyone who’d think it cool to wear purple velvet. Ever. Stereotype: Black men are tacky and think pimping is cool.
However, I kept reading. I read about the promiscuous black man with a frown. I could swallow it down because many romance books feature rakes who seduce women. So what did the inner me get from this? Stereotype: All black men have high sex drives.
“When I first discovered I was Undead and I could possibly live forever, it sorta went to my head, you know, like I was invincible and super-macho and could do whatever the hell I pleased with as many Vamp ladies as I pleased. But then I realized they were all doing whatever they pleased, too.”
“What’s wrong with that if you’re having fun?”
Phineas slowed his steps and lowered his voice. “They didn’t see me as a person. You think we’re a minority in the real world, you should try the vampire one. I was a curiosity that all the ladies wanted to experience, and once it was over, they moved on to the next form of entertainment.”
“So you got tired of one-night stands?” Freemont wrinkled his nose. “Is that even possible?”
“Yes, it is. Eventually, I realized that being wanted as an oddity is an insult. I want to be appreciated for being myself.”–p. 36
I read until I got to the part where the hero dubs characters Rat Face and Blockhead. After that–it was over. I turned one more page, thought “I cannot do this” and put the book down.
“The Russian guy was the leader, Phineas figured. A Malcontent, no doubt, sent by Corky. He was armed with an automatic pistol and an AK-47. The guys flanking him were mortal judging from the bite marks on their necks. They either served Corky voluntarily, or she had them under vampire mind control. One was tall and skinny, with a narrow face and a long nose. Rat Face, Phineas dubbed him. And the other guy, short and square was Blockhead. The three thugs scanned the room before focusing on him.”–p. 38
Yeah, there’s no stereotype here. It irritated the crap out of me. If the characters’ names don’t matter don’t mention them. Rat Face and Blockhead? Am I really supposed to take reading this book seriously when the author doesn’t take naming the characters seriously?
Regardless, I was disappointed. I seem to be the only one who feels this way. I’ve found glowing reviews and no negative reviews what-so-ever. Sparks‘ series is hit or miss with me. Some of her books I’ve loved. I did not like Wanted: Undead or Alive. I could not even bring myself to finish reading it.