Review: Insatiable by Meg Cabot

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’m not a huge fan of the cuddly romantic vampire genre.* I picked up Insatiable for two reasons: first, because I’ve enjoyed other Meg Cabot books, and second, because it seemed at first to be a send-up of the current vampire craze. New York City soap opera writer Meena Harper is tired of her beloved soap “Insatiable” getting its butt kicked in the ratings by vampire soap opera “Lust” — and isn’t exactly happy that her studio’s parent company has directed “Insatiable” to introduce a vampire storyline of their own.

Meena’s also dealing with a longer-term problem: her ability to foretell peoples’ deaths. Fortunately a well-placed warning can help future victims avoid their fate, but Meena has learned the hard way that few people listen to someone who tells them they’re going to die.

Meanwhile, someone is leaving exsanguinated corpses all over Manhattan. Ancient vampire Lucien Antonescu boards a plane from Romania to New York City to find out who’s putting his kind in danger with this sort of careless behavior, and obsessed Vatican demon-hunter Alaric Wulf is hot on Lucien’s trail. Naturally, both men soon cross paths with Meena — and naturally, both men find themselves irresistibly drawn to the pretty psychic.

At first I enjoyed Meena’s disdain for vampire stories and loved the book’s comic tone. About halfway through the book, though, I found myself really frustrated with Insatiable. As soon as Lucien enters the picture, Cabot starts to revel in the vampire stereotypes instead of challenging them. The book’s self-aware humor dries up and Insatiable starts to feel like every other novel about a cute Everygal and the hot, rich, supernatural guys who adore her. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a step up from Twilight, but it isn’t a big enough step.

It also seems like the book can’t decide if Alaric Wulf is a serious romantic rival for Lucien, comic relief, a flawed but dedicated hero, or a sociopathic weirdo who’s probably more dangerous than the demons he hunts. I think it was supposed to be a combination of the first three but the flavor I got most strongly was “dangerous sociopathic weirdo.” I was particularly disturbed by the first meeting between Alaric and Meena, which has non-consensual overtones that I found really unpleasant.**

Finally, Meena’s brother Jon is such an idiot that I found myself actively hoping that he would become collateral damage in the hunt for the killer. He’s incredibly self-absorbed and has zero understanding of his limitations. At times Jon Harper is almost as stupid as the TV version of Jason Stackhouse (which, for those of you who haven’t seen “True Blood,”+ is the stupidest a fictional character can be, scientifically speaking).

I was intrigued by the end of the novel, which seems to be setting up future books where Meena will be dealing with a much wider and scarier world of vampires, demons, and other threats to human health. But I didn’t enjoy Insatiable enough to run out and grab the next book in the series. The characterization was too uneven and the book’s take on vampires in New York City wasn’t novel enough to keep my interest. Maybe I should just accept that love triangles and romantic vampires aren’t for me.

Rating: YMMV

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* With some exceptions. Buffy + Angel 4EVA!!

** Dear writers: if one of your characters thinks about how much s/he’s enjoying touching someone whom s/he knows doesn’t want to be touched, that’s not sexy, that’s icky. Is your character supposed to be a sex offender? No? Then you’d better rewrite that bit.

+ Please do not construe this as a recommendation for “True Blood.” I watched about half of the first season and thought it was melodramatic and unbearably pretentious.

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