Title: Dirty Blood
Series: Dirty Blood
Author: Heather Hildenbrand
Length: 7696 Kindle units
Rating: 5 stars
Tara was not having the best night of her life. She had just broken up with her boyfriend and was forced to walk home. But things get eminently worse when she runs into a woman who turns into a wolf and attacks her. Fortunately, for some definition of the word “fortunately,” Tara is able to kill her assailant and escape relatively unscathed.
Then Tara meets Wes, who tells her that the attack was not as random as it seemed. Tara was born to a race of Hunters whose only goal is to track down and kill Werewolves. Wes and his friends are trying to broker peace between the two races, and they would like nothing better than for Tara to help them further that goal. But Tara is about to find out that seeking peace may be more dangerous than any war.
As is probably apparent from my five star rating, I very much enjoyed Dirty Blood. Tara is a likable character with enough flaws to make her seem real. She comes off a bit petulant at times, but I imagine that I would be whiny too if I was suddenly cast in the role of warrior-peacekeeper by a bunch of people who refused to tell me anything. There is also a strong supporting cast made of friends, enemies and all those in between, most of whom had sufficient quirks to make them interesting.
I always like a mythology with a well-developed backstory, and the werewolves and hunters have a long history of mutual animosity. This is complicated by the addition of a third side, the Cause, who ultimately wants the two races to live in harmony, though they acknowledge that their goal will take some violence. The Cause has its own tragic history, but events seem poised for our heroine to step in and return goodness to the world, after some hardship, of course.
As I was considering where to rank Dirty Blood, I realized that one of my conceptions for a five star novel was “Would I recommend it to my friend who doesn’t like YA novels all that much?” I thought about it and decided that this was not a fair standard. After all, I have read dozens of published YA novels that I have loved that I know he would not enjoy. So the bad thing that I have to say about Dirty Blood is that it is not so good that anyone would like it. But I highly recommend it to a reader who enjoys YA paranormal romance.
I am also going to take this opportunity to briefly rant about formatting e-books to be navigable. I am not sure how it is done, but some books have tables of contents and chapters that you can flip through with the arrow button. I greatly prefer books where I can do these things to ones like Dirty Blood where I can do neither. Having to flip through a book page by page feels very constraining for the not-entirely-linear reader, especially as I’m trying to remind myself of things as I write a review.
When we first meet Wes, Tara notes that his eyes and hair are the same shade of brown, which makes him sound particularly attractive. And before too long we know that they are destined, or at least foretold, to be together.
Nonetheless, I am a little hesitant about Tara and Wes’s relationship. I feel like she is doing all the pushing, that she always calls him or insists that they be together when he is being hesitant. He tries to explain this as “Oh, I really like you, but I hate the idea of being forced by fate to be with you. Also, I don’t want you to get hurt.” Eventually, this sounds like excuses for what I start to think he really means, which is “I’m just not that into you.”
Will I read more?
I already have. I downloaded the second book almost as soon as I finished the first one. If anything, I like it even better than the second one. Tara goes off to a supernaturally-themed boarding school, and that’s always one of my favorite settings. Now I’m eagerly awaiting book 3!