Saturday, September 11, 2010

Undead and Uncred-ible

Today, I weep for humanity. I don't know what's worst: that this book can get published in the first place, that I couldn't find a negative review on it anywhere (!), or that it has been contracted for eleven books in the series.

I'm talking, of course, about Mary Janice Davidson's Undead and Unwed.

I'm not sure why I picked up this particular piece of chick-lit brilliance. I guess it sounded like it could be fun. When it was described to me I thought, "Oh, it's got to be tongue-in-cheek. I bet it's hilarious!" Now, I'm sure the author intended for it to seem tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn't take much insight to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she is living her fantasy life through this book. And there's nothing necessarily wrong with living a fantasy life through a book. It's just that this one is so shallow. Here's a picture of the author that is printed in the back cover:

A quick synopsis: "sassy" Betsy Taylor is a former model and a current secretary who is obsessed with fashion and has a particular penchant for designer shoes (notice any—well, just one—similarities with the photo above?). She gets attacked by vampires, survives, dies in a freak accident a couple weeks later, and wakes up in the morgue as a vampire. Here's a quote from the morgue when Betsy sees herself in the mirror:

"Interesting shade #23 Lush Golden Blonde highlights. Heyyyyyy.... The woman in the awful suit was me! The woman in the cheap shoes was me! … I slipped one of the shoes off, looked at the inside. Property of Antonia O'Neill Taylor. I knew it. My stepmother! The bitch meant to bury me wearing her cast off shoes!"

Throughout the book, the author spouts all kinds of "smart-mouthed" nonsense and horrible, horrible puns. One of her characters uses the classic line, "She's a poet, and she didn’t even know it!" And you might think that it's supposed to be a cutesy, ironic usage. I sure didn't read it that way. The character (and author) is just corny enough to think that it's funny. And then there's this one:

"I was fast, I was strong, I was…I was SpiderVamp!"

The author perpetuates the horrible phenomenon of making vampires "sexy." Her big gimmick is that when a vampire drinks the blood of a human, it's an orgasmic experience for both parties. Then the vampire has to have sex with the human, or the human will turn into a deranged junkie who can think of nothing else but the sexy, sexy vampire. (This is just a little too much of a look into the author's psyche. I don't want to know her fantasies.) The whole book is oversexed and, oh, there's also a lesbian vampire.

So Betsy learns that she's Queen of the Dead because she fits the description of a prophecy told long ago, but she's a reluctant hero who just wants to hang out and get more shoes. At one point, she's riding in a car with the mysterious and sexy male vampire, Sinclair. Let's visit:

"He started the engine and jerked in his seat as Rob Zombie's 'Living Dead Girl' blared through the speakers.

"'This is intolerable,' Sinclair shouted in a vain attempt to be heard over the music. He lunged for the volume control, then stabbed irritably at the preset buttons. The car was instantly flooded with—gag!—serene string quartet music."

I must give credit where credit is due. The idea of a young vampire woman listening to "Living Dead Girl" makes me smile a bit. But, and I realize that I'm very biased in this situation, her reaction to the classical music is ridiculous. I can be reasonable, though. Sometimes someone just doesn't like a certain kind of music. They wouldn't do something completely rash and unreasonable, though. Right? Let's visit Betsy in a car she's borrowed from Sinclair a few chapters later:

"I had one hand on the steering wheel, and the other was buried in the CD holder up to the elbow. I groped, felt, and pulled. Soundtrack from Amadeus. Nope. I took my hand off the wheel long enough to hit the power button for the window, and out into the night air ole Wolfgang went.

"Beethoven: Violin Concerto. Pass. I tossed it. Sentimento, Andrea Bocelli. Who the hell was she? Toss. Mahler: Symphony Number Five. It probably wasn't any better than symphonies one through four…buh-bye. Chopin: 24 √Čtudes. Et tu, Chopin? Kiss pavement.

"…Stupid Sinclair. Even if he wasn't an arrogant cuss, I felt like giving him a kick for his musical taste alone."

There are so many things wrong with this excerpt. I don't even know where to begin. I'm going to ignore her blatant hatred of classical music and get down to the more pertinent issues. First of all, what kind of jerk borrows a car from someone and throws the owner's CDs out the window? Can you think of anyone who would do that? It's unfathomable. Second, the fact that the author thinks that the Amadeus soundtrack is the kind of thing a classical music lover would have in his collection is just…hilarious. Not that there's anything wrong with the soundtrack, but it's essentially random movements from several pieces over the course of Mozart's life. I find it more likely that the guy would own CDs with the pieces in their entirety. Third, the idea that Betsy feels a need to "give [Sinclair] a kick" for his taste in music is the most egotistical, self-centered idea with which she could have possibly closed this section. Finally, how much do you want to bet that as the author painstakingly thought up her delicious little puns and comments on each CD that she thought she was being absolutely hilarious? I'd put money on it.

So the book continues and Betsy is bribed with ten pairs of designer shoes (Seriously. I'm not joking) to do her duty as Queen of the Vampires and defeat the bad guy. Then Betsy and Sinclair have hot and incredibly graphic sex in a swimming pool, but then she gets mad at him for some stupid reason. The book's final paragraphs:

"Now if I could just get Sinclair to quit dropping off pairs of designer shoes. In his last card he said he would drop off a pair a day until I forgave him. I'm up to fourteen pairs of Pradas, eight pairs of Manolos, and six Ferragamos.

"Maybe I'll forgive him…eventually.

"I'm still waiting for this season's red Jimmy Choo slides."

And so it all comes back to shoes. I just don't know what to say. I was expecting the book to be funny, but in an over-the-top sort of way. It's definitely over-the-top, but not quite enough to be funny in the way the author intends. It's really more unintentionally funny, in a very sad way. Kind of like the author's picture.


  1. Here's a snippet of an interview I found with the author:

    Interviewer: Hi MaryJanice.... thank you so much for taking the time out of your hectic writing and travel schedule to do this interview!

    Author: Technically not a question, but I shall deign to answer: you're welcome! ;-) Also, I am awesome. In case you wanted to ask about that.

  2. Hilarious! The picture looks like it should be in some kind of joke book. I too weep for humanity. I very much enjoyed your send up. Once again, I am reminded that I might get ahead in life if I was stupider, less educated, and had poor taste.