It’s nice when I manage to read a book that’s been on my “to read” list for a while. Too often books placed on the list just seem to languish there, forgotten, until I happen to come across them on the library shelves, which is the case with Rob Thurman‘s Nightlife. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for the book quickly waned the more I read. It’s not that Nightlife is bad, but I’m figuring that it’s probably just one of those books that are decidedly “not for me.”
This also is a shame, because I was sort of in the mood for what I guess is called “urban fantasy” these days. I was thinking I’d like to read something akin to TV’s Supernatural with a dash of the Hellblazer comic thrown in. Nightlife seemed to fit the bill. It’s the story of two brothers, Cal and Niko Leandros. Though they have the same mother, Cal’s father was a supernatural being, one of the “Auphe,” a race of beings that became known as “elves” in the imagination of folklore, but are, in fact, horrific and cruel. Niko, the elder of the two, has devoted his life to protecting his little bro from the Auphe who claim Cal as their own flesh and blood. And so the two are constantly on the run, picking up odd jobs where they can but never putting down roots. But, of course, there are more creatures of the night than just the Auphe. There are vampires, werewolves, and even a bridge troll, all hidden under the thin veneer of the mundane.
So the premise and setting of Nightlife was fine, but the writing made me want to pull my hair out. Again, it wasn’t because it was poorly written, but I just couldn’t stand it. I was cruising along okay the first few chapters, but then it wore me down and eventually I just wanted the damn thing to end. Like a lot of UF, Nightlife is written in first person point-of-view and that was a big problem because of the snarky, sarcastic, More-Ironic-Than-Thou Cal, who is the one doing the storytelling. You’re stuck with him for the duration. I guess he’s supposed to seem gritty-but-witty but I just wanted to kick him in the balls. Every other paragraph, what with some kind of mirthless joke that isn’t as clever as Cal seems to think it is. And on and on with the whining about being half-monster and interrupting action scenes with exposition on the past or how he feels about something or other. God forbid you ask him how his day is going. You’d better have a thermos of espresso handy. Cal is one chatty Kathy. I understand that sarcasm and cynicism is sort of a genre norm. I’m okay with that, but Cal Leandros bored me.
But, hey. That’s just me. I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there who’d get more out of Nightlife than I did. What I would have liked to have seen was some of Niko’s POV, too, since their brotherly relationship was supposed to be an important part of the story, but I never got the sense of a real emotional connection between Niko and Cal. As I mentioned, it was written all right overall, but I just couldn’t stand the narrator. I just sort of skimmed over the last two-thirds of the book since I have some pathological urge to finish every book I start.
The verdict: ★★✩✩✩ Nightlife didn’t do a thing for me, but some devoted fans of the genre may get a bit more out of it. There are several more volumes in this series, so clearly Thurman is doing something right, but it’s likely I won’t be checking in on it.