In the next book in Molly Harper's beloved Half Moon Hollow paranormal romance series, Gigi starts her first job (at Vampire Headquarters), gets over her first love, and may even fall for her first vampire! Gigi is no longer an innocent teen. All grown up and looking for love, her family and friends worry she'll go for the sexy, alluring vampire instead of a nice, safe human. But sexy and alluring, with a penchant for biting, could be just what Gigi wants...
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As a huge fan of Molly Harper and of the Half Moon Hollow series I jumped on Rebound the first day it was released. If it weren't for Amanda Ronconi's standard-setting brilliant performance I wouldn't have made it through this one. While Harper's plots are usually wonderfully multi-layered with the main plot surrounded and supported by other well-crafted sub-stories, Rebound barely had anything at all. The 'Gigi + Nick' story felt flat and, as a love story... meh. Their pairing made absolutely no sense and the two of them together seriously lacked the chemistry of the couples in the previous books.
Other reviewers have mentioned the issues of character/personality continuity. Believe them. Incongruent actions and responses stopped me in my tracks every time. The biggest example of character inconsistency is Gigi herself. I didn't like this version of her one bit. She came off as a self-centered spoiled air-head - not the smart, snappy, and independent girl that I couldn't wait to read about. Keeping the characters true to themselves would have created opportunities for a much fuller and more satisfying story.
Throughout the book I couldn't shake the notion that I was reading about an older guy with no redeeming features (except his 'man-parts') preying on an impressionable, emotionally needy, and dim-witted young girl. Not the usual Molly Harper fare.
Others have covered the plot holes and loss of continuity from the previous books, and while that's uncomfortable, what really soured this book for me was how dark this one was. Part of what made the previous books so much fun was how Molly Harper painted a world where vampires are still people. Being turned is just the start of a new set of problems in your daily life, problems best handled with snark, sarcasm, and good friends.
Amanda Ronconi rules, as always.
**************** Begin spoilers **************** While the "friendly" vampires are still present, vampires in general are now shady, dangerous predators, to be treated with caution and respect. This perspective first showed up in The Care and Feeding, but there it was possible as a reader to treat Iris as a unreliable narrator in this respect; Gigi may share Iris's prejudices, but the self-help book quoted at the beginning of each chapter is replete with dire warnings about the importance of not provoking your vampire colleagues. Jane’s earlier commentary about how vampires tend to be the same mix of good and evil as un-undead humans is repudiated.
Gigi has taken a job working for the Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead. Shortly after orientation, Ophelia calls a Stalinesque meeting of the entire staff to accuse an employee of theft. The theft, she announces is already proven, and the employee is tortured while the entire group is made to watch. Further, the point is explicitly made that although the character is a vampire, the particular torture technique employed is permanent, even on vampires. Not fun, and not even a little funny.
The vampire "hero" is about 400 years older than Gigi, who is already the youngest of Molly Harper’s heroines. Nick's first interaction with Gigi in this episode is to attack her. She barely escapes with her life. Her reaction, after getting away and telling her family about the attack -- is to date him? Against her family’s strong objections. What the heck? Even after she learns he's under a spell that causes him to forget his feelings for her and try to kill her, she continues to sneak around trying to find chances to be alone with him.
Nick attacks Gigi repeatedly throughout the book. Each time, she makes excuses for him instead of taking steps to protect herself. At one point, she consciously decides to allow him to kill her without resisting. When he comes to his senses and calls off their relationship as a result, she's butt hurt about his cowardice and lack of commitment. Every time they're alone together, my skin crawled as I wondered what he was going to do next, and the narrative would be sure to point out again, whatever he did wouldn't be his fault.
The sex: ick. The laugh out loud humor in the sex scenes in Harper's other books makes them worth listening to (sex scenes read aloud is usually more embarrassing than ), and I've always believed the chemistry between the characters. In this one, the sex was just porn. These two characters didn't seem to be ready to consummate their relationship, unless this is an homage to college hook-ups?
The most recent Naked Werewolf book has a character on the run from her abusive ex-husband. I can't understand why Harper would choose to glorify this abusive relationship, and allow the narrator to keep making excuses for him. He hurts you because he can't help it is a terrible message to embed in a romance novel.
There's always been violence in these books, but before it always felt like cartoon violence. Only the bad guys stay hurt, and the good guys fight, but it's clear from the beginning that no one is in any danger (like when Jane fights with her mortal sister, they smack each other around using with foam bolsters).
Finally, Ophelia. She's always been a pain in the butt, but there have been hints she's amused by the friends' antics, and in the end, she's always been exerting her influence for a fair outcome. She's been on the periphery of the group, and if anything, it was time to give her her own story and bring her into the circle, not turn her into the villain. (Here again, there's the 400 year age gap between her and her love interest, and despite trying to kill Gigi in an insane rage, Jamie continues the relationship with her? He's stern about it, but sternly expressing disapproval seems a tepid response to your significant trying to kill your best friend.)