After reading Neill's first book in her Dark Elite series, I had high expectations for this series. Girls that Bite is her debut novel, for her Chicagoland Vampire series.
Unlike her YA book Spell Fire, the reader is instantly pulled into plot and intrigue. Merit is our little smarty pants who has a penchant for dancing, and sassy comebacks. Safe to say it was instant character appreciation. Watching Merit grow into her role as a vampire, even though she clearly didn't ask for it was great. Learning booty kicking moves is always fun, and a serial killer plot is always intriguing.
Considering that Vampires came “out of the closet” eight months before Merit is changed, I didn't really think Neill's world quite tapped into in this first book. The reader doesn't really get a heavy dose of how the world of humans is handling the vampire population. We get some explanations that people in the post Harry Potter era are curious about them and either worship, or are mildly leery and that's about it. There is a special devision that Merit's grandfather is head of in the police department, but they act as an information pass along.
Learning about the vampire world and how the politics and Houses work was really fun. Vampires and politics always go hand in hand, it's all the soul sucking. Other supernaturals start popping up in Merit's world, now that she's one of them she's privy to the other creatures who haven't come out of the closet. Shifters, sorcerers, and so much more. My personal favorite is the river Nymphs of Chicago, their little cat fights amused me greatly.
The whole cast of this book was really fun. The group of our special devision, is standard. The bad ass sorcerer with mad sword/fighting skills. The nerdy, witty, and cute computer genius. The loving grandfather of Merit, who she “worships” as he was the only true family she has. Merit's family shuns her choices in life and only wants any thing to do with her when it may benefit them. (Mainly that's coming from the power source daddy.) The slightly punk, really hot room mate, and sister figure. The second love interest (Morgan) in the book is charming, really charming. I for one am a Morgan fan, t-shirts should be made and past out. ^_-
Neill sets up the story with vampires who want to live in harmony with humans, and then the ones who want revenge taking their stances. Revenge for being hunted and killed, time for the vampires to move to the top of the food change. Political positions are made between vampire Houses, shifters, rouge vampires, and things are in swing for what could turn into a war. These events add in nicely to Merit's vampire discovery and the reasons behind her attack.
Pretty much this book swept me off my feet and carried me away on a really great ride. There was one thing that really took away from the book. Ethan.
Ethan is our green-eyed, blond god. He turns her and is soon to be Merit's liege. They lust after each other. Neither can justify why the lust each other, and they really hate each other. Merit however can't stay hating him, but spends a lot of what could have been character development to ranting about how she is attracted to him. Then the next half hating the fact, and how she's diluting herself with lies about how she “feels.” Then towards the end of the book the reader is expected to believe that Merit is falling in love with him. Even though Ethan sales her out for his on benefits, doesn't trust her no matter what she does, and is basically a jerk that we have learned nothing about.
I hope Neill fixes this. I don't care how. Merit realizes there is nothing here to justify it and realizes how stupid she is, AND GETS OVER IT. Ethan gets hit by a bus and dies. Either way I'm hoping the phase will move on. I really don't like it when authors do this, giving our beloved main character a guy she has to love/lust despite wanting to hate him. Then we learn nothing about the guy, keep getting stuff about how terrible he is, and then expect the reader to cheer the two on. Neill even goes so far as to have Merit be a peeping tom and watch Ethan and his consort have sex.
Alright, I'm annoyed.
This was a great debut novel. It was fantastic, the reader gets to watch Merit grow up and start to become a kick but vampire, I have very high hopes for this series. I want to see where Merit is going and where the rest of the characters are going. Please, just please, end the Ethan/Merit lust thing. She deserves better and the reader deserves better.
Merit peeps in on Ethan and his consort, look out!
4/5 This series is going places. Just hopefully not with Ethan.