A Vanagon resembles nothing so much as a Twinkie on wheels; a fifteen-foot-long, six-foot-wide Twinkie with as much aerodynamic styling as a barn door. (66)I was initially drawn to this book, and voted for it in the VF forum on Goodreads, because it's set in Washington State (love) and the protagonist is a VW mechanic. I don't love the cover, but I forgive it because of those two things; my dad grew up in my grandfather's exclusively VW-bug shop mechanics shop, so VW mechanics hold a special place in my heart.
But after that first instinct to be into the book after reading the description, I realized that there had been a Mercy Thompson story in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (last December's alt pick) and I remembered not loving it. At one point, the characters refer to Africa as "The Dark Continent" which I have a real problem with, and also refer to people of Asian descent as Oriental. So not exactly a politically forward author, it seemed.
However, I didn't notice any issues like this with the full-length novel version of Mercy Thompson, so I'm hoping that was an anomaly and the rest of the series will be racism-free.
I went back and forth on how I felt about Mercy. I like that she's tattooed, I just wish it wasn't quite so stereotypically done. I like that she's a mechanic and independent, but I'm also a little fed up with the isolated supernatural ladies. Why do they so often have no friends, let alone any close female relationships? Ugh. It made a bit more sense for Mercy, as a woman in a mostly male-dominated world, with fellow shifters, but still...
There are some interesting and different mythologies here with some supernatural beings that are sometimes VERY tired (namely vampires and werewolves), so that was nice to read. I love urban and supernatural fantasy, but if I read the same sad vampires and werewolves one more time, with absolutely no creative eye to their natures, I'm going to throw that book across the room. There were also some exciting action-filled moments in this book, which was awesome, and they were handled well and easy to follow, which is not always true of urban fantasy action sequences.
There were a few issues I had with geography, like when Mercy says that her mom tried to guilt her into driving UP to Portland, when in fact Portland is south of the Tri-Cities...although maybe that has more to do with regional language in relation to the author than anything else. I also didn't appreciate the tiptoeing around the swearing. Damn isn't even a curse word (at least in my mind) and yet characters apologized when they used it. Really? Can't we all just be grown ups, especially if there are going to be intimate situations happening.
I thought Samuel's treatment of Mercy when she was a teenager was completely messed up. I mean, I understand his reasoning, but still, children above all other considerations? Are you really that vain? Ugh.
When you get right down to it, I felt kind of meh about the book, even though I rated it four stars on Goodreads. That rating was reflective more of the potential in the series rather than my thoughts on this first book. Despite my ambivalence, I decided to continue with the series anyway. They're quick and they're like popcorn. Like the junk food of literature. Thus far I've read the second in the series, Blood Bound, and have the third, Iron Kissed, on my Kindle waiting to be read. I'm interested to see what happens with Stefan, and to hopefully find out more about Mercy's origins and the nature of walkers (since she seems to be the only one still in existence).