Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Out of the Night" by Robin T. Popp

I really wasn't sure about reading this book, especially when I got to the description on the back cover. Lanie Weber is described as a "seemingly mild-mannered librarian", and we all know that could be great or the kiss of death. I decided to give a shot anyway, mostly because we had two other titles here in my little branch and they sounded interesting. And ya'll know how much I hate to start a series on the "wrong" book!

Basic plot is this: Lanie has to fly to an obscure South American country to retrieve the body of her deceased father. Enter Mac Knight, the handsome pilot who will provide her transportation. He's ex-Navy, still has government connections, and has them traveling in a plane looks like death on wings. His first move is to drug Lanie with a concoction of tequila and sleeping pills so that she'll relax and not spaz out on the flight. Hmm, that's the sort of romantic move every girl is hoping for, right?

They arrive at the camp, which turns out to be a secret government science lab. There are dead bodies everywhere, but not the dead body that Lanie has come to retrieve. There's a cage with a strange stone statue in it, one that comes to life after sunset and attacks Mac, biting him and almost killing him. Lanie saves his life with a blood-transfusion (did I happen to mention that she's a volunteer EMT and firefighter, too?), then worries as he heals incredibly fast, much faster than a human should. She finds her father's journal in his room and discovers the reason for Mac's quick recovery - he's been bitten by a chupacabra, a mythical beast that usually preys on the blood of animals. Lanie's father has determined that when one of these creatures bites a human, the venom imparts the chupacabra's healing abilities to the human, while also making it necessary for that human to drink blood for sustenance. In other words.... A VAMPIRE!

Will Lanie be able to save Mac? Will Mac and Lanie declare their love for each other? Will the pair be able to stop the bad guy? Hey, you knew there had to be a bad guy in here somewhere, and believe it or not, it's not the chupacabra.

Overall, I would give this about a C+ for effort. It's not a bad book, but some of it was really stretching, both in plot and character development. I thought the whole chupacabra/vampire deal was an interesting twist on the vamp legend, although I've only heard of the chupacabra in Mexico and South America. How did vamps get over to Transylvania and other European countries if this is the method of creating them? Guess you're not supposed to think about things like that. The romance between Lanie and Mac was OK, a bit rushed at first, but believable by the end of the book. And there's obviously more books in this series, so you know you're going to see these characters again at some point, probably as secondary props.

Here's my big problem with Lanie, and I have to admit, this just comes from me, personally. It's the whole librarian thing. I don't mind my characters being in the library biz, but I want it to have at least a grain of truth about it, and I didn't appreciate Ms. Popp's portrayal of the work. Here's the paragraph that really had me fuming:

"Well, as you can imagine, being a librarian is not the most exciting job to have and while I liked it, I needed something more in my life. One of my librarian friends volunteers at the local station. She used to come into work and tell me about the calls that came in the night before, fighting the fires, working accident scenes. It didn't take long before I knew I wanted to be a part of it - the excitement, the danger, but most of all, helping people who really need it."

Let me just clue in the world - being a librarian is not necessarily non-stop action, but it IS exciting, at least to those of us who do this sort of work - at least, I think so. I love my job, and it's always something different every day. You never know who's going to walk in the door, whether it's a regular patron looking for the latest best-seller or a person who is in the area for just that moment in time and that you'll see only this once, someone who you might help in such a way that they'll remember the experience. And as for "helping people who really need it", HELLO! I do that all day, every day, and so do the ladies that work with me. There are people who come in here and need to use the Internet to look for work, people who are out currently out of work and don't have access to a computer otherwise. There are people who need medical information, estate information, childcare/child custody information, and we help them find that. There are people who use this facility every day who are "between permanent residences", and I hope that they feel that we treat them with the same respect and dignity that we show our other patrons, especially since they may not receive that elsewhere in public. I'm very proud of the job we librarians do, and it just really rankled that Ms. Popp didn't use Lanie to let the rest of the world know how wonderful libraries are. Of course, Lanie works in a university library, and that might be different than a public facility. But I doubt it's THAT different.

Anyway, sorry for the rant there. As I said at the beginning of the review, it's not too bad of a book, entertaining for an afternoon or so. I'll reserve total judgement until I read the next one in the series.

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