Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hard Bitten -(Chicagoland Vampires No.4)- by Chloe Neill - Book Review

Title: Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires No.4)
Author: Chloe Neill
Published: May 3rd, 2011
Pages: 350
Synopsis: Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.

Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem too ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands... (from

I don't really know how to start into this review. It's a review that if I didn't need to get the feelings inside me about it out, I wouldn't share it at all. But, so much has happened in this book, so many events, so much chaos. I know none of this makes sense to those who haven't read it, so I'll attempt more coherency. *clears throat*

The book starts 2 months after the last ended. (First three books reviewed here) The last being a book that gave us hope for the future. A hope that would surely come true, would it not? As readers, we are torn and twisted by these authors through plotlines and character trails and for what?! To watch the emotional turmoil of these characters, these characters that become more real every time we hear their name, to see them rise, to see them fall so that one day, they may end in some sort of peace. Authors though, they make it hard, they make us work for that happy peaceful ending.


I'll tell you why. One of my favorite authors said it best when she said, and I'm paraphrasing here, plot is driven by trial and tribulation. Readers are happy when they get what they want, but they are even happier when they don't get what they want. That may sound ludicrous, but for me - most of the time - it's true. In instances like this, seeing the characters hurt, seeing them suffer through the most imaginable pain makes me care about them, makes me care about the plot. It gives me the draw to read the book with the complete and utter impossibility of putting it down for any moment. PLOT IS DRIVEN BY CONFLICT. It just is. And though I may not be able to see it now, though I may be hurting over the plot in this book, because yes, I am that into it, I'm looking to Neill and hoping with all hope that she will help me. That at the very end of the series, even if it's in the last pages of the last book, she will give me my peaceful place and make me feel that everything is the way that it should be.

This book I had been waiting for, waiting for so long - it seems - to be released. To read more of Merit and Ethan. To see them flow around each other and find their places in this different time where vampires are real and everyone in society knows. In previous books, they had a relationship that was fun, that was different. It wasn't something that just happened, they weren't madly attached at the hip. Their sexual tension lit up most of the pages in the first, second and third books. We could see their everyday dance around each other, only occasionally meeting in the middle and those brief moments were something we looked forward to. This book was similar in that their loveable, witty, snarky repertoire was still there. It was just different in that their feelings were visible. It wasn't a dance of wanting and needing, but not giving in. It was a dance of feeling, grieving, trusting, wooing. It was one where they knew how each other felt and the build up was coming. The development of something huge.

That development is what made me never want to put the book down. The conflict involved in their relationship, in the deepening plot lines of the book, in Merit's other relationships, they were strong and they were detailed and horribly lovely. In a way that flipped and turned and pushed through every page with reckless abandon. A way that was eloquent and thoroughly addicting.

But then, then Neill does something, something that makes us, the reader astonished that she could or would ever do it. Her plot, her damn conflicting plot throws us for a metaphysical loop. It pushes us in front of that oncoming train that we were nowhere near. It makes us look at those words, those horrible horrible words and wonder what will happen, what could possibly happen now?! How on Earth is she going to fix this, because she needs to fix this, she really really needs to fix this. And as the reader, you think how did this happen, is it true, are we missing something? Can this really have happened? Please, say that it didn't. Don't take everything from us. Don't take it, please. And in the end, we have no choice but to sit back and wait and hope that Ms. Neil does something. Hope that she will fix this and make us feel better. That she will make the sadness that we feel for these characters dissipate.

I hope more than anything, that she will.

This book, this book driven by massive amounts of conflict was intense and exciting and will bring tears through it's words. It will rip a course through your body and make you want to flip every page careless for the consequences. It touches on so many emotions and pushes you through til the very very bitter end. I wouldn't ask for anything else in a book. The only request I do have: please Ms. Neill, fix what happened. Make the hurt go away.


  1. I definitely stared at the last pages of the book looking for some sort of epilogue where she tells me the events I just read didn't in fact happen, and it was all part of some sort of dream state and I'll understand more in the next book. But that didn't happen. Which means what I read did happen. NO! I have to agree with the "readers are happy when they don't get what they want" in so far as it's true for a middle book in a series. By the last book, just like you said, I want that happy place. Please. I need Drink Deep immediately! Brilliant review Jen, you summed up all my thoughts perfectly:)

  2. Readers "are even happier when they don't get what they want"? *Sigh* So true. I do love conflict driven plot but I sometimes think I'm a little crazy for the angst I put myself through empathizing with my favorite characters.

    I haven't read any in this series yet, but I love books set in Chicago so I've been meaning to check it out!

  3. @Jenny - I know. I know. I know. I still feel like crying. Trying to explain my attachment to book characters, to most people, is ludicrous to them. What can I say, I get attached. I was super sad when the Weather Warden series ended. This book was emotional. I kept rereading the words to triple check I'd read right. I even wen to Chloe's site to see what she had to say. "Trust me" was the post. :D Guess I will, eh.

    @Lisa - It's so true! I was thinking and thinking about it and felt the difference in books that give me what I want and those that don't. In the end, I want to be happy, but throughout, I kind of like to suffer along. Does that make me a masochist?

  4. You got me curious and your review is oh so lovely and personal and emotion-filled that I must get this series into my hands and rip it (I mean read it) open. Thanks.

    Readers are happy when they get what they want, but they are even happier when they don't get what they want. That may sound ludicrous, but for me - most of the time - it's true

    I really, truly, honestly couldn't agree more. Amen and bless you for saying that.

  5. You just make me adore you even more. I love how you can read more then the first book in the series. *shame on me*

    Agreed, I too am curious now.

    Wonderful review and now I think I have to add this too the list too. LOL!

    Zombies are for May!  Morbid Romantica Challenge links are up for Zombies along with a few book ideas.  Some I myself will be trying out! Stop by and let me know which Zombie book I should be reading!

    Mad Scientist
    Steampunkery & Book Reviews
    For The L♥ve of Reading


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XOXO Jen the Bibliophile

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