by L.A. Banks
Format: paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: April 30, 2003
Reviewed by Thumper
Somebody, somewhere, is either trying to run game on me, or thinks I done fell and bumped my damn head by passing this "book" to me! Minion: A Vampire Huntress Legend, Book 1, the first novel by L. A. Banks, is a long-winded, nonsensical mess. It's been a long time since a book has so thoroughly ticked me off! Minion probably shouldn't have found its way across my desk, for I am a lover of vampire tales. From the first time I saw the 1931 movie Dracula, when I was very young, to today, my fascination with vampires is the only thing, (besides my waistline), that has continued to grow over the years.
I looked forward to reading Minion. I had great hopes for a new series featuring vampires. Sadly, Minion ain't the series I had anticipated. From the first word to the last, I was highly disappointed, frustrated and angry with Minion. Everything about it made me see red: the plot, structure, dialogue, sub-plots, everything from the first ink smear to the last period. With the exception of its sensational cover, Minion has no redeeming qualities.
Minion is an adventure of vampire slayer, Damali Richards. Damali is a member of a group of vampire hunters called the Guardians. Using their public personae of musicians and recording artists as a cover, the Guardians travel around the country making music and killing vampires. In their latest battle, the hunters encounter a new hybrid of vampire. This encounter will open a gate to truths that Damali will have to face and conquer in order to eliminate this new vampire threat.
I despised the dull, stale Minion. It was about as interesting as watching grass grow in a rainstorm. For it to be the first book of a series is tantamount to committing a punishable crime. The first book of any series can be, at times, tedious and overly informative, because it lays the foundation. I can forgive the boring spots in the initial installment as it comes with the territory. But to overcome this it is imperative to have interesting, likable lead characters, a clear concise narrative, and a strong, multi-dimensional plot that will lead to the series' continuation. Minion failed to achieve any of these essential elements. The characters are shadowy at best. The plot? If you see it, please, tell me what it looks like, because I have yet to cast my first glance upon it. The narrative’I'll tell you about it later. Minion is lacking on all fronts.
The structure and style of the book is poor. A writer should not make a promise and then not deliver it. For instance, Banks writes a prologue and doesn't visit it again till the end of the 274-page book. I want to be pleased, not teased. It took so long for Banks to form the connection between the prologue and the rest of the book that I forgot the prologue.
The transitions from one scene to another were jarring, leaving me feeling that I had been transported to another world without warning. I would have appreciated a sub-title or even the time and location of the new scene written above it, to let me know that a change had occurred. Because the characters were weakly drawn, and the story was lacking, I was confused as to what was going on, and who was doing what to whom.
Speaking of confusion, Minion, literally, begins in the middle of a conversation. What a strange and stupid move! Nothing unsettles me more than to enter a conversation and not know the topic of discussion, or the participants. With Minion, I began the book at a loss. I couldn't ask anyone the topic, or what parts I had missed. Right off the bat, my teeth were set on edge. A happy camper I was not.
The dialogue? Oh, my goodness gracious. Banks does a horrible job with the dialogue. I utterly dreaded the moment when it looked as if two characters were about to have a conversation, because their discussion would go on for pages. Pages! I kid you not. The banter, which starts the book, happens between Damali and her mentor Marlene. It went on for approximately 30 plus pages! Ah hell naw! This doesn't make a lick of damn sense. Banks has neither the technique nor the plot to successfully accomplish this feat. I'm getting a headache reliving it. To make matters progressively worse, almost all of the dialogue in Minion followed this annoying trend. It is, without a doubt, ridiculous.
If Minion was to serve as an introduction to Damali -- her manner, parentage, and character -- I wasn't impressed. Banks withheld the essential background facts that could have shaped, colored, and brought Damali to life. I have no idea what the author was waiting for. Now is the time to pull out all of the stops, show Damali's humor, her jagged edges, the soft spots, and the hard shell. Now is the time to make Damali INTERESTING! Damali should be so captivating that I can't wait to read the next Damali adventure. But under Banks' direction, Damali is only a vague pencil sketch of a character. I like my characters three-dimensional, existing in bold, vibrant colors, all the things Damali isn't. I have no better idea of Damali now that I finished the book, than I did when I started. The other characters were just as smoky and underdeveloped.
The cardinal sin that Minion committed was that it attempted to employ a highly popular literary theme, without bringing a new wrinkle or an alternative point of view to the table. Without an imaginative, inspiring approach to observe vampires, there's nothing here to grab my attention or capture my imagination.
Minion fails as a promising series, a new vampire epic, and as a book PERIOD.