Book Chat 1 – Halfway to the Grave
Before we delve into the review/ chat, here’s a link to my post explaining my 2021 Book Chat plan. It includes the list of future reads, so check it out so you can read along with us! And btw, that is one of my cats, Izzie, keeping me company when I read!
Now, back to the actual post…
Halfway to the Grave: Night Huntress Book 1 by Jeaniene Frost has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon with over 1,600 reviews. On Goodreads, there are over 139,000 ratings and the average is 4.14. Clearly, the book has been well-received. It was recommended to me in various FB reader groups and sat in my Kindle TBR pile for quite a while. Below is the blurb in case you haven’t checked it out!
Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father—the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.
In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner—are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.
I’m late to the party, but I’m glad I joined the ranks of those who enjoyed the read – I will also recommend it to others.
However, no book works for everyone so there are negative reviews. I read several of those and some of the more positive but critical ones to find the discussion points below. I will always avoid spoilers so there will be some vagueness in the discussion.
- Too fast/ no depth – Several compared this book to other UF favorites and complained about the pacing and shallowness of the plot. There are some comments about the speed of the romantic feelings and the focus on sex.
I like a faster pace, but there were some choppy chapters that leapt forward in time without details. Someone commented that there was little setting description and they weren’t wrong. Those are often the details I skip as an impatient reader so it didn’t bother me. I was also thrown that it took so long to really meet any other characters (such as her family). However, another reader had a different take as Cat was a very isolated character and that suited her story. Regardless, I was definitely inspired to keep turning the pages as I was fully invested. Additionally, I didn’t find too heavy of a focus on sex – I enjoy romances so that may make a difference.
- FMC wasn’t likeable – Some noted she was naïve, flighty, etc.
This is certainly something I’ve seen in other books and is something that will turn me off a read. But, I like Cat! The blushing innocence vs the killer hobby was an interesting conflict to me. She did bounce around some in her moods, but it wasn’t too extreme and suited her and the plot. Again, I liked her and was certainly cheering for her which will always keep me invested in a book.
A reader in PRUF had more details to share – apparently, Cat was originally intended to be approximately 16. It appears to have been a publishing decision to age her up to college. It certainly puts a different spin on viewing the character.
- No character growth – These comments were often connected to the ‘too fast, no depth’ comments.
These comments surprised me as I thought Cat changed quite a bit for book 1. It was the conflict with Bones and her mom that I thought really demonstrated this. Again, no spoilers but there’s a big difference between her initial interactions with those two and her final ones in the book. As it’s first person and fully focused on Cat, I didn’t see much from other characters. I certainly want more from Bones! A reader did share that there’s some bonus reads on the author’s website from his POV so I’ll be checking those out.
- Written as a Buffy fanfic – This came up a number of times in negative reviews.
I didn’t watch Buffy (only the movie) so I can’t comment on any character or story line similarities. As I’ve read some great fanfic, I’m not sure that’s an insult though. I will say that fanfic often counts on the fact that readers know the characters. This means some description details are assumed/ skipped.
Overall, I’m definitely on the side of the majority as I enjoyed this book. While I have several books planned for this Book Chat, I also plan to continue reading this series. I would definitely recommend it to others.
What are your thoughts on book 1 in the Night Huntress series, readers? What do you think about the reviews? Do you check reviews before buying a new book?
Reader question: another PRUF reader mentioned the author had extra stories on her website so I want to know – do you stalk authors for bonus reads?
I’d love to hear your thoughts so don’t be shy about sharing! You can comment below, join us on Facebook, or send me a message through my website!
Now, I’d like to switch from a reader to a writer. What can we learn from the criticisms above and the overall book rating.
*Writing tip: Action over description*
This isn’t anything new or earthshattering if you’re working on your craft. I do feel having an example helps me remember and learn.
There’s a writing advice quote about editing out the parts the reader skips and I think that pertains here. While I have a tendency to write more details, I do skip them as a reader. I couldn’t tell you much about Cat’s town other than it was small, and I don’t even recall what college Cat attended. Regardless, I was cheering for her victory and enjoyed her journey.
Yes, there were some that complained about the speed as shallow. That’s not how I read it and the average reviews don’t reflect that concern either. It was Cat driving the story forward and the author focused on the character in a way that brought us all into her world. Her snark, her forced beauty regiment, her emotional turmoil, her fighting skills, her past, her goals – that was the majority of the book and it captivated most readers.
As writers, we work hard to create our worlds and we do want to share every detail. I think we need to find a balance though. It will be individual and may change with each book/ series.
Another piece of writing advice may apply here – Writing Tip: Kill your darlings. Falling in love with a scene, a passage, etc. is part of the writing process. As authors though, we need to decide whether to leave those in or remove them.
Again, these are individual choices for each author. My point being that it should be a choice – reflect on your pacing and decide if it is what works for you.
What are your thoughts as a reader and/ or as an author? Did you read and enjoy the book? Are these readers the ones you want as an author?
So, what’s next for Book Chat? We’ll be diving into my first paranormal women’s fiction read – Making Midlife Magic by Heloise Hull. Pick up a copy, join the Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Readers Group, and get ready to have some bookish fun!
Amazon Link to both books: