[REVIEW] The Turning – Jennifer Armintrout

The Turning

Book 1 of the Blood Ties series

Jennifer Armintrout

Mira Books, 2006

Doctor Carrie Ames, just 8 months out of medical school, is attacked by a vampire in the hospital morgue. She comes out of surgery with insatiable hungers and sensitivity to light. She’s been turned to a vampire, and seeks help. That’s when she meets another vampire (a double agent, if you will), learns of her ties to the monster who created her, and finds out about the organization that wants to kill her.

More behind the cut.

I wanted to like this book. I tried. The voice has originality that is lost under snarkiness that just doesn’t fit. The story has great ideas, which are thwarted by bad set-ups. For many reasons, I just didn’t connect with the characters.

The main character is a doctor with a pack a day habit. I found this hard to believe. I thought maybe it was that I don’t know any doctors who smoke, so I allowed that maybe some out there somewhere do, but as I kept on reading, it was more than this. Carrie does not strike me as a doctor in any way. Doctors are analytical thinkers. They process information, look for patterns, solve puzzles, think through the possibilities. This why they don’t smoke. They know it kills. They’ve thought this through. I do know of many, many nurses who smoke, and I think nursing is a better fit for Carrie. Not only because of the smoking thing, but because she tends to react to situations. She’s more of a care-giver than a diagnostic. There are other contradictory things she does. She goes to a web-board and agrees to meet someone she’s never met, someone who charges at her with an axe. She didn’t scope out the place first. She didn’t bring a friend. She didn’t think through the options. She just went. In addition to this, she meets a vampire who tells her vampires really do exist and he’s going to kill her. Then he gives her a book all about vampires, which she takes his word that it contains gospel truth. As if everything that’s written in a book is factual. [None of this is worthy of a spoiler alert since it all happens in the first three chapters.]

At no time do we really get to see the Doctor at work before she’s turned. Well, we do, except she’s on her way out for a smoke break and she throws up at the sight of blood. Seriously. You’d think after all those years in medical school and internship she’d be used to blood by now. But no. The author tells us it’s because she’s only been out of school for 8 months, to which I have to say, “Yeah, so?” It can’t possibly be the first time she’s seen blood.

The biggest problem with this first novel is that it’s a first novel. It’s a mish-mash of ideas the author jammed in whether or not they flowed with the story. Sometimes this method works. A writer throws a bunch of stuff in the pot and ends up with something good. Other times, not so much. You can’t just throw garlic into a raspberry pie and leave it there. If it happens there’s garlic in your raspberry pie, you pull it out before you bake it. Right?

Author intrusion ruined the story. As another example, while Carrie’s house is probably on fire, Carrie decides to seek out the vampire who turned her. She knows he’s a monster, but she goes anyway– alone. She knows her whole life is in that house, but she has no interest in going there. I understand the necessity of burning down the house, of forcing Carrie to give up her old, human life, I also understand the necessity of removing the characters who are helping Carrie and leaving her on her own, I even understand Carrie needing to meet her creator, but not all at once! Carrie should have had time to react to her destroyed home, destroyed life. She should have mourned for it. At least then she would have had reason to meet the one who took it all away. She didn’t even confirm there was a fire before leaving the place where she was safe.

This book is for vampire lovers. If you can’t get enough of vampire lore, you’ll love this. This is also for anyone who adores “love at first sight” stories.

Rating: C- ~ I might like to see if Ms Armintrout’s writing improves with the next novels because I do think she has some good ideas. She just needs to get out of the way.

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2 comments on “[REVIEW] The Turning – Jennifer Armintrout

  1. When I first saw this review, I cheered a little. Finally, someone standing up and taking notice of this wonderful series! But I was surprised by the review itself. Respectfully speaking, I believe your ideals got in the way of you enjoying the book.

    You mention how hard it is to think of a doctor smoking a pack a day, when a large number of the medical profession (my brother-in-law included) are in fact smokers. Also, you talk about her meeting Ziggy on the web and meeting him, how ludicrous you feel this is. You have to remember though, the character is a newly turned vampire. No matter how much training she’s had, or how bad of an idea it seems to be, no one would be in there right mind after that type of life-altering event.

    Now I touched on the smaller, more particular points for a reason. You point out all these details and decisions that you don’t think mesh with the story, but they didn’t bother me at all because they seemed to mesh for me. Life doesn’t wait for you to bemoan your losses–it picks up right where you left it, dead or alive. Stories that have those chapters in between where it’s nothing but “woe is me” tend to be thrown back on my To Be Read pile until a rainy day.

    As for the rest of the series, if the first book didn’t jive well for you, the other three won’t either. Each one has that very snarky protagonist, the tortured love interest (sometimes literally), and the over-reactions by every one. What I love is the fact that the characters realize they’re over-reacting, but do it anyway because it’s “human” nature.

  2. Pingback: Review: Blood Ties: The Turning, by Jennifer Armintrout | Racy Romance Reviews

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