I have a writer crush on Meg Cabot. She’s fun and quippy, erudite and interesting — the blend of humorous chick lit I find so intoxicating. I began reading her Princess Diaries series as a teen and have followed her devoutly since, gamely picking up anything she scribbles.
Some have been hits; others have been misses. As I get older, my reactions to Cabot’s novels have gotten spotty and unpredictable. Despite going into Insatiable eager and excited to see her take on the recent cult of vampires, this book is going to flounder in the in-between category for me.
Television writer Meena Harper has her hands full. When she’s not unwillingly getting a glimpse of how others are going to die or picking up after her slacker brother in the apartment they share in New York City, she’s fighting off backstabbing coworkers and struggling to incorporate a campy new vampire plotline on “Insatiable,” the TV soap to which she contributes. Life gets a bit more interesting when she’s introduced to Lucien Antonescu, a charismatic European professor, and survives a near-death collision with a swarm of bats. Confused but thankful for Lucien’s heroics that save her life, Meena falls for the debonair Romanian.
Her love balloon is soon popped, however, by the arrival of Alaric Wulf, a man who has some startling accusations to level against Lucien. That he’s a vampire, for one — and that Alaric, a member of a secret Vatican guard, has been sent to kill him. And Lucien’s fate suddenly rests with Meena.
Sounds crazy, right? Well, it totally is. And at first I thought that was a good thing, you know, because Meena seemed like a normal, sane person. Even with the whole psychic powers thing. But as Meena became completely obsessed with a dude she met days ago and seemed to value his life more than her own, I got frustrated. And disinterested.
The weak beginnings of a love triangle form in Insatiable, but I didn’t really see how there was any contest between Alaric and Lucien. It’s the whole Edward/Jacob thing all over again — but I guess that, once I grew up and saw Edward’s stalker-like tendencies for what they really were, I got over the whole vamp thing. So I was Team Alaric, if you will, if only because Lucien seemed like a weirdo.
There’s a disturbing trend in literature that really gets under my skin, and I’m not sure we’ve coined a term for it. As such, let’s go with this:
The Undeserving Heroine.
• A female lead who, in mindboggling fashion, attracts the devout love of multiple men while seeming dull, boring, vapid or otherwise uninteresting. See also: Bella Swan.
Now, this is not to say that Meena was a total wreck. She wasn’t as brainwashed as Bella, that’s for sure, though her intense “love” for Lucien was eyeroll-inducing. Despite all this, I don’t mean to be a hater. I gotz the emotions, I swear, and know how ridiculous and squee-like we can all get during those heady early days of infatuation. But I guess I just don’t want to read about it.
Characters falling “in love” too quickly is a major pet peeve of mine, and sort of a literary deal breaker. It’s something I can rarely circumvent in my reading. Once I find both The Undeserving Heroine and a plot involving a too-quick-to-be-even-remotely-realistic love affair, I’m out. And that’s what happened here.
Fans of Cabot who have a penchant for humorous vampire tales might enjoy this one more than I did. Insatiable absolutely does tackle the whole vamp thing in a very light, tongue-in-cheek way, and Cabot never takes herself too seriously. The plot is a little trite but still compelling enough for me to finish, though I can’t see myself continuing with the series. Take that as you will.
3 out of 5!