LUST FOR LIFE is the fourth & final book in Jeri Smith-Ready’s WVMP Vampire Radio series. I have a conflicted relationship with these books; something happened in the 3rd book that I really did not want to happen, but I read the interstitial novella and book 4 because I wanted to see if Jeri (who is a friend of mine) did the only thing with the end of the series that I felt would justify the thing I really didn’t like.
The answer is that she sort of did, which means I’m not quite at the place of being That Reader sniveling, “I didn’t like this book because the writer didn’t do WHAT I THOUGHT SHE SHOULD” (which, as a writer, is a reader I reaaaaallly don’t want to be :)). But I do think that in this case I got in the way of myself, because I had clear ideas about what *I* would do with the situation she developed, so instead of ending up loving the books, which I hoped to, I only liked them all right.
Although–to counter the kind of snively “she didn’t write the book I wanted”, I have to say that one of the major effects of The Thing I Didn’t Like, in tandem with the main character’s established magic, was really nicely thought out and implemented, and I liked that a *lot*.
I think that for a rarity I might actually go into major and specific spoilers, because I’d actually like to talk about what didn’t work for me, so I’ll stick those behind the cut tag. You have been warned.
To sum up: Ciara, our heroine, is a human working at a radio station where all the DJs are vampires, who are emotionally stuck in the era in which they were raised/turned into vampires: they each do a show of their era’s music. Ciara has the magic power of Disbelieving, which among other things allows her to heal vampires of wounds from holy water and stuff. In book 3, she gets vamped.
For me, the only possible acceptable reason for her vamping is if it’s going to have some kind of *major*, positive repercussions for the vampires: she’s going to be able to sommehow unstick them from their eras, or devamp them, or…*something*.
In book 4, she and her vampire boyfriend get sunlighted to death: they burn up. And through Reasons which are too complicated to summarize but which are set up in earlier books, Ciara is able to bring them back not just to unlife, but to *life*: they become human again. Later, she de-vamps a vampire who is trying to kill her, but at such cost that if there wasn’t someone around to perform CPR on her she’d have been dead too.
This…is kind of where I wanted it to go, but not in what felt to me like an ultimately satisfying-enough way. Ciara becoming a vampire felt very pat to me, rather like the author was yanking the story around to fit her idea of it rather than what might have been more natural or appropriate to the book, and the end, unfortunately, felt the same way. It didn’t go into the depths I hoped for it to, and it didn’t have the resonance or change factor for the vampires we knew that I was looking for.
Some of this may well be due to the series being foreshortened; it was intended to be 5 books and got cut to 4, with the 4th story released as a self-published novella, but I believe it *was* supposed to be 5, not more, books, so to some degree that doesn’t really allow for my problems with it either; if it ended how and where she intended it to, I still find the resolution somewhat lacking. As it was, the series wraps up tidily, but if it had had legs, it could have gone on with further adventures; maybe that’s where the things I was hoping for might have been developed.
Anyway, yeah. It’s not actually all that often I read things and go “That’s not how I would have done it,” (although it happens more with urban fantasy, unsurprisingly, than anything else), but in this case, I think I definitely got in the way of myself as a reader being able to enjoy the books for what they were.