Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

Lori Handeland's Any Given Doomsday (which will be released by St. Martin's Press on November 4) is my first foray into the genre of urban fantasy, so I had no idea what to expect. If you love books with vampires, witch doctors, werewolves, and other shape-shifting creatures, you won't be disappointed. And for the most part, neither was I.

Any Given Doomsday was fast-paced and action-packed, and though it's not the type of book I usually read, I couldn't put it down. I think Handeland did a great job putting the reader into the mind of the main character, Elizabeth Phoenix.

Elizabeth is a former cop turned barkeep who is well known for her psychic abilities. She can touch an object and know where to find someone. At the start of Any Given Doomsday, she witnesses the brutal murder of her foster mother, Ruthie, and wakes from a coma to learn from her ex-lover that the world as she knew it is over.

Elizabeth must assume Ruthie's role as seer in an epic battle of good versus evil. Her job is to let the demon killers, or DKs, know which humans are demons, werewolves, witches, vampires, etc., that must be destroyed and where they can be found. She's supposed to learn all about these supernatural beings from her ex, Jimmy Sanducci, but he never seems to stick around long enough to tell her anything, or he's explaining things while some creature is trying to kill her. Ruthie is supposed to pass on what she knows as well, but she's dead and reaches Elizabeth only through dreams (and falling asleep really isn't convenient when you're about to be killed). She also must take lessons from Sawyer, a centuries-old witch doctor who supposedly is a hunk and teaches her things through sex.

Yes, there is plenty of sex in Any Given Doomsday. Sex as a teaching tool, sex as a symbol of power, and sex simply for the sake of including a sex scene. I was able to overlook the gratuitous sex and the cliche cop-turned-bartender role, but I just couldn't bring myself to really like any of the characters in the book--especially Elizabeth.

I understand Elizabeth is supposed to be some ballsy, sarcastic character who's not afraid of anything, but she was a bit over the top. When faced with evil creatures intent on killing her and no apparent way out, Elizabeth acts as though they are an annoyance as minor as a hangnail. She had to be strong, sarcastic, and fearless all the time--there was no exception, and she just didn't seem real to me. Her only weakness was Jimmy, and she tells you early on that he cheated on her in the past, so I wouldn't have wasted a breath on him.

Also, I'm curious as to why there were a couple of scenes in which Elizabeth would be talking to one of the male characters, raise her head, and her chin would brush up against his crotch. (This happened enough that I noticed it and wondered if she had some sort of magnet implanted in her chin.) Seriously, if you're that close, you need to step back about a million feet. What's interesting is that these incidents didn't even mark the start of a sex scene.

However, I think Handeland created an interesting story, though I would've liked to learn more about the various creatures that pop up throughout. Elizabeth didn't learn all that much from Sawyer or Jimmy, and she was running blind throughout much of the book. I'm assuming more explanation is planned for future installments of The Phoenix Chronicles. Despite my feelings about Elizabeth, I think I'll give book two a try.

Any Given Doomsday also was reviewed by:

Savvy Verse & Wit
The Sleepy Reader
The Bookworm

minds alive on the shelves
Confessions of a Bibliophile

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Any Given Doomsday from the publisher for review purposes.


Anonymous said...

Good, honest, candid review, Anna. As usual. Kudos on absorbing the sex within the whole and evaluating with balance. Sounds like a good book!

Anonymous said...

Nice review. I have added a link to my review of this title.

Anonymous said...

Anna, you had me LOL about the chin brushing the crotch.

I've seen mixed reviews on this one. I have a hard time reading a book if I don't like any of the characters, but it seems plot makes up for that in this book.

Did you and Serena get the same book from ER? What a coincidence!

Serena said...

You hit the nail on the head with this one. I love the fast-paced plot, but the character of Elizabeth was just too ballsy! She had no other character traits. I really did enjoy sawyer...I felt like there was more underneath that character and this book only glanced at his surface.

Shana: Anna and I got the same book from ER and I think we have another one coming to us both from ER that is the same from the last batch. LOL

Jeannie said...

I've always liked vampires, but I'm not really into werewolves and stuff. I'm also not too much into books with a lot of sex (I know- I'm weird). But I did enjoy your candid review. Thank you!

P.S. I'm really behind today, but I will email you soon.

Darlene said...

Great review Anna. I'm still not sold on this one. I love your comment on the magnet in the chin-too funny.

Anna said...

Marvin: Thanks for your kind comments! I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

Amy: Thanks for the link!

Shana: I couldn't help but notice the crotch thing. That kind of invasion of personal privacy is too much for me. LOL I agree that the plot makes up for the shortcomings in characterization. And yes, Serena and I got the same book. And we both got the same book from the latest batch, too!

Serena: Sawyer was a bit creepy for me, but I do think he's an interesting character. I hope he shows up more in book two.

Jeannie: I hear you about the sex stuff. It's not that I'm a prude or anything, and most of the time it doesn't really bother me, but it was a bit much in this book. And I'm waiting patiently for your emails. :)

Dar: I started seeing some not-so-good reviews before I started reading it. I was a bit scared. But overall it wasn't so bad. I'm glad you found the crotch magnet funny! Serena and I have been laughing about that one since I pointed those scenes out to her!