Review: Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Posted October 6, 2014 by Carmel in Carmel, Reviews, Urban Fantasy, Werewolves / 66 Comments

Review: Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson
Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson
Series: Jessica McClain #4
Published by Orbit
Published on: September 9, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Werewolves
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Jessica is going to Hell.

After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn't have the power to stop.

Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast -- new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be... or she will never make it out alive.

Coverlicious Cliffhangar Infuriating

I debated for quite some time as to whether I was going to continue this series; I loved FULL BLOODED, book 2 was decent as well, but 3 was the beginning of JESSICA MCCLAIN’s downward spiral, and although I enjoyed the first half of RED BLOODED, the second part convinced me to throw in the towel. I liked the world-building as far as Hell was concerned, and was happy that Jess’ wolf played a larger role in this installment, however the insta-mastering of powers reared its ugly head again, and the incredibly predictable Lili outcome knocked my opinion of the heroine’s intelligence down by several pegs. For me, RED BLOODED was pretty much split right down the middle good / bad wise which is why I am giving it three stars.

The demon realm was by far my favourite aspect of this novel because we got to meet a bunch of new beasties (i.e. Chupacabra, demon piglets, wyverns, orthus, etc), and discovering an author’s version of Hell is always entertaining. I wish that Carlson would have let her imagination run a bit more rampant—evil glamoured to look like humans in a sterile environment was rather boring—and, I would have preferred to have had the food assembly line angle wrapped-up. It felt like something horribly disturbing was about to be revealed, but instead readers were left hanging. I’m guessing that the piglets were their food source; however that was never actually specified.

Ok now, let’s play a little word association game here to prove my point, shall we? If I were to say Hell & Lili; what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Perhaps I’ve read one too many paranormals which made the villain’s true nature blatantly obvious, but I don’t think that guessing View Spoiler » was that big of a leap. Once her identity was anti-climatically unveiled, the events that followed were as predictable as the sun rising in the East. And, I really didn’t care for the whole the One thing because it was too much a rip-off of THE MATRIX (again, if I say the One—what do you think of?) & HIGHLANDER (motto: “In the End, there can be only one.”) for my tastes. I realize that there are no original ideas, but at least change the name…

I liked that McClain’s wolf was at the forefront of this story because that was one of my main complaints about the previous book. How a heroine can be a werewolf, but NEVER shift is just beyond me. Anyway, I was disappointed that the lupine aspects mostly revolved around internal conversations instead of physical manifestations, but again, at least Jess’ furry side WAS acknowledged. I was also happy that we got answers as far as the prophecy / Cain myth were concerned, although the heroine once again gains a crapton of abilities in mere seconds. I get that it’s her destiny, and that her ancestors have set a precedent of this, however character growth is VERY important in Urban Fantasy, and this series is severely lacking in that respect because of the insta-mastering.

RED BLOODED began on a high note, but then abruptly shifted gears around the halfway mark which only served as a reminder of how far this series has strayed since books 1 & 2. I personally do not care for this new direction, and as a result will not be following JESSICA MCCLAIN’s adventure any further.

Jessica McClain Series

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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66 responses to “Review: Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson

  1. i guess i must be releived to have only book 1 in my TBR pile then….i don’t like when a series quality diminish with each book i often get teh feeling the author wanted to do too much in too little time… yes i want to read a lot and i don’t like to wait years between two book but i could wait more months if the quality is there, for that i can be patient… and she doesn’t shift?!O_O oki that will disappoint me for seure

    Still i will read book 1 but i’m not sure i will read more ( safe if there is such a cliffhanger that makes me crazy^^;;)
    miki recently posted…Divine Vices (Divine Vices 1) by Melissa Parkin

    • I really liked FULL BLOODED, but the rest of this series has yet to live-up to book 1’s potential, and considering we’re now at the fourth installment that’s kinda telling IMO.

  2. I hate to hear this. I’ve loved the Jessica McClain books from book one. I’ll agree with you that it was the best of the series, but I didn’t dislike the other books as much as you. I have yet to read this one because I was hoping for an audio version (the narrator for books two and three was really good), but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. I’ll get this on my reading list soon. Thanks for your honest review, as always.
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…The Beautiful Ashes Audiobook by Jeaniene Frost (Review)

  3. Too bad Carmel! It’s always frustrating when a series you thoroughly enjoyed in the beginning starts to move away from what made you love it in the first place. That’s been my experience with the Black Dagger Brotherhood over the past 4 or so books. I’ve wanted to stick with it because I love those Brothers something fierce, and I keep trying to give JR Ward the benefit of the doubt, but I think she’s lost me for good now. *sobs*

    And yes, the minute you said Lily, I took a very educated (and correct!) guess as to who she might be 😉

    • I didn’t mind LOVER AT LAST, however THE KING was another story—major snoozefest! I’m not a fan of the Lessers or the Band of Bastards plot threads. Urgh! Haha glad to hear that I’m not the only one who called that Lili thing a mile away, and you didn’t even read the book. LOL

  4. Margaret  

    Hi Carmel! I often find something in your reviews that I wish I would have written in mine. You’re so right about the demon cafeteria! It could have been something really impactful if Jessica had followed it all the way to the beginning, but you just get bits and pieces and it doesn’t mean anything.

  5. I’m with you on this, Carmel! I really liked the worldbuilding and the demon realm was quite interesting, but I was annoyed by the same things you were. It was quite disappointing. I don’t know how I feel about this series now. It was a favorite until this point.

    • That’s a judgement call you’ll have to make; the earlier novels aren’t bad, however if you’re OCD about finishing a series this one might not be for you.

  6. Bummer! I have only listened to first 2 books, I was excited about the series because they made a good narrator change for the second book, but the third didn’t get great review so I put it on the back burner, but now I’m thinking I might take off the stove all together..lol
    Maybe one of this days I’ll try book 3 and see if Ms. Plummer can move the story up a notch.
    Thanks Carmel! 🙂
    Lupdilup recently posted…October Audiobook Releases Winners Announcement

    • I thought about listening to this one to see if the narrator made a difference, but Jennifer told me she wasn’t great. I didn’t know about the switch-out at book 2 though. Too late now!

  7. Well, it seems that this will be one of those series that I won’t be adding to the list. Sometimes series lose steam and we’re not involved enough to continue to give it another try hoping for improvement!
    Sorry to hear this wasn’t better for you Carmel, great review!
    Pili recently posted…Crushed by Eliza Crewe Blog Tour: Review!!

    • You’re a trooper, Melissa! I was so angry at myself for getting suckered into this one that I refuse to fall for it again. Maybe if reviews for 5 are AWESOME I might reconsider.

  8. I like the series a lot and I was so sad while reading this one because for me it was the less good of the series. Too long, not that interesting even if in the end I liked it. It was better for me when all the characters were here. But we’ll see with the next one.

    • I definitely felt the lack of secondary characters too, however even if Carlson fixes that in book 5, this series has reached the point of no return for me.

  9. I haven’t read this book. Like you, I loved first book, liked second and was on the fence about third one. My sister is the one that reviews this series for my blog and she read Red Blooded and didn’t liked it and it’s very saddening because Full Blooded was the book that got her into reading UF.
    I know I’ll read it… someday, but it won’t be anytime soon. Will I read next installments… I don’t know, I have to wait until I read this one to decide.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Release Day Review: Once Perfect by Cecy Robson

  10. Yikes – almost every review I’ve read says the same thing. I didn’t love the first book so I guess I made the right choice in not continuing. Maybe it will pick up again with the next installment.

  11. Well, you gave it the ol’ college try, huh? It’s a shame that this series didn’t live up to its potential. But you stuck it out this far giving Carlson the benefit of the doubt, so kudos to you for that. The world building does sound fascinating but the lack of character development would be a huge minus for me, as well. Great review, Carmel!
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**Teaser Tuesday ~ #39**

  12. So many werewolf books this month – you must be pleased, even though this one was disappointing. I agree completely about character development: without it, most UF is just subpar. The whole Lilith thing kills me…talk about assuming your readers are dumb dumbs. Sounds like calling it quits with this series is the right choice for sure. There are too many wonderful series out there to continue reading ones that you don’t enjoy!
    Danya recently posted…Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

    • I really don’t get the no shifting thing; it’s a huge oversight IMO. Three is good, but not enough to justify me giving the next installment a chance.

  13. Joy from Thoughts By J  

    Haha for some reason demon piglets just doesn’t make sense in my books! All I can imagine is a teacup pig with horns, and that makes me laugh. Why would anyone turn baby piglets into a demon?! 🙁

    I find that sometimes paranormal books should really just stop at a certain number instead of the author churning out more of a story that should have ended ages ago. Sorry to hear that the heroine was a let down. Wonderful review nonetheless Carmel xx
    Joy recently posted…Book Review: The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

    • I don’t think that they were meant to be scary, just their fate was, and even that aspect didn’t come full circle to my satisfaction. Like you mentioned, not all authors are capable of keeping a series going long term, and knowing when to call it quits is essential. Carlson should strongly consider it. LOL