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Succubus On Top
Richelle Mead
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Succubus Blues  - Richelle Mead Succubus Blues introduces us to the world of Georgina Kincaid, a succubus trying to survive in a modern age where hell is run by bureaucrats and love is always out of her reach. While Georgina might be irresistibly hot and capable of shape-shifting, all that power comes at a price. She needs to drain life force from her sex partners in order to continue her immortal ways. This has led her to only screwing complete assholes for their energy, opting to keep the guys she actually cares about away from her alluring but oh-so-deadly touch. Thing get even more complicated for Georgina when someone starts hunting down lesser immortals and leaving her mysterious notes relating to the crimes. And as if that weren't enough, suddenly there are two very different men causing Georgina's otherworldly desires to go haywire. Can she survive not only the immortal hunter, but the potential touch of love itself?Blaaaaaaaaah. That's what this book was. All kinds of blah. I'll start off by saying that Mead's writing is easy to digest, simple but definitely readable. The pacing is quite decent and Georgina never once becomes one of those let's-punch-everyone-in-the-face-to-solve-our-problems UF heroines. The primary male characters (Roman and Seth) aren't alpha fuckbag rape-is-love leads either, which is definitely a breath of fresh air. But. But. But. But. But. BUT. There were a lot of problematic elements in this book which, for me, tainted the more positive aspects of the text considerably.If there's one thing this book drove home for me it's that even in our fantasies, men rule everything. Georgina might be a woman with SEX POWERS, but every aspect of her life is ruled by the whims and needs of men. Her demonic boss is a man who, for much of the book, keeps Georgina in the dark about certain dangerous developments regarding the immortal hunter because OMG IT'S FOR HER OWN GOOD. HE'S TRYING TO PROTECT HER. OMG GEORGINA WHY WON'T YOU JUST BE A GOOD GIRL AND STOP TRYING TO FIND THINGS OUT. His angelic drinking buddy is no better in that he too keeps Georgina in the dark FOR HER OWN SAKE. This was incredibly patronising -- yes, they're higher ranked immortals, but it was the constant repetition to Georgina in particular (above her far more obedient lesser immortal male friends) about how ALL THIS WAS FOR HER OWN GOOD that just made me want to punch through a wall. Georgina has apparently been alive for centuries, but they still can't treat her like anything other than a willful child.Her more earthly workplace is no better -- she's got her skeezy boss/guy she fucks for life energy sometimes because he's not a nice guy so it's totally okay to just eat away his life force, in addition to a couple of male coworkers who provide general decoration. Warren (boss) and Doug (co-worker) in particular seem to have no end of MANVICE to give Georgina about whatever is going on in her life (even though neither of them seem to know anything much about who she is below the daily fa├žade).We also get glimpses of Georgina's original human life and hey, men rule everything there too. It was ancient times, so it made a little more sense to have men as such a primary feature in everything Georgina did when she was Letha. However, it was still disappointing to see that Letha sold her soul not for freedom from her horrible mess of a life or from the men holding her back. No, Letha sold herself into Lilith's eternal brothel because her husband was sad that she'd cheated on him and she just wanted to make everything better by being erased from his life. Never mind that after their initial courtship the guy ignored her until it was convenient not to, then manipulated her with talk of hurling himself off things when the cheating came to light. No, this is a SAD STORY because Georgina was in loooove and she ruuuuuined it with seeeeeex. Rather than reflecting on her background and coming to terms with what went wrong, Georgina just laments on it. Flashes back to it. IT'S SAD AND SHE'S SAD SO PLEASE FEEL SAD. She didn't seem to work through any of these issues properly, she just dwelt on how depressing her life has been.See, Georgina can't have children because she's an immortal. And she will remind you of this with wistful stares at pregnant co-workers, sadfaces at children's birthday parties, and just a constant lingering sense that she is lacking something because her uterus won't shake N bake anymore.Just stop it, urban fantasy. Even in these magical other realities women are measured by their reproductive capabilities. If these books are to be believed women without the biological ability to reproduce spend all their free time hating themselves and everybody else because BABIES ARE SHORTHAND FOR HAPPINESS. It's an upsetting, destructive idea to continually hawk through apparent fantasy titles and I'm bloody well sick of it. It devalues women who, for whatever reason, cannot bear their own biological offspring. It implies that they're living half-lives, lives devoid of TRUE MEANING because OH MY GOD EVEN IF YOU'RE A MAGICAL FAIRY OR A SUPER SHAPE-SHIFTER, YOU'VE GOTTA HAVE A FUNCTIONING UTERUS IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY. Georgina has a difficult but rich life full of amazing abilities and their sobering trade-offs. It's a complex existence, one that has stretched out over dozens of lifetimes. She cannot, however, let a quiet moment slip by without wallowing in self-pity because OH MY GOD SHE CAN'T MAKE BABIES. There's someone stalking and killing lesser immortals but I'M GOING TO WASTE HALF A PARAGRAPH THINKING ABOUT HOW IT SUCKS THAT I CAN'T HAVE BABIES YOU GUYS.This ties in to a lingering theme which I found rather problematic. Georgina is just generally not very nice when it comes to other women. She's no Sookie Stackhouse, but it was still troubling to have Georgina's interactions with other women be presented as overwhelmingly negative. Whether she's calling a woman (well, angel) of different moral standards to herself a "sanctimonious bitch", or just outwardly loathing a "crazy" new age store owner/scam artist, Georgina just can't seem to find a woman on equal footing with herself. Granted, she's nice to the young women she poaches from the new age store, but much of that ties back to Georgina seeking to alleviate her own problems by boosting the low staff numbers at the bookstore.Heck, Georgina isn't even nice to herself. When she is drunk and upset, desperately trying to keep Roman from touching her for fear of her succubus drive taking over (LOL WOMEN AND THEIR UNCONTROLLABLE, OTHERWORLDLY SEXUALITIES), she refers to her own outburst as being "hysterical, like a crazy woman." REALLY? Never mind that she's intoxicated and trying to say "No" while he's getting a bit too close for comfort, Georgina feels she is the one being irrational, the "hysterical" woman. Later in the story, when she is unable to contact Roman, Georgina mentions that she "feel(s) hysteria creeping in." It is utterly repellant to hear our heroine think this about herself. To feel that her (oh-so-female) emotions are irrational when they are in fact grounded in reality (the men in her life have been threatened and Roman is, at this point, unresponsive, and of course we don't know he's a complete fuckwad yet). It's almost as if Mead doesn't understand how weighted and problematic a word like hysteria is. Or maybe she does and she opted to include it anyway. Either way, IT IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD.Reflecting back on the text it's rather disheartening to see a heroine who is shown to be quite capable in her everyday life so full of self-pity in her own internal monologue. Yet in a fantasy world so stacked against her, so full of willful ignorance and patronising boys' clubs, is it any wonder that she's come to second-guess every aspect of her immortal self? No, Georgina isn't particularly likable, but I do feel that her position and surroundings have fostered much of her self-doubt. Still, in the end, there's little to find endearing or empowering about this book. Georgina is an ineffective investigator who stumbles for clues while The Big Boys keep vital information out of her reach ~to protect her~. (It doesn't help that the lesser immortals are completely ignorant of what other creatures are out there and what they can do.) Her powers are only useful for flirting or fucking, save for the odd shape-shift, so it's not like she's capable of doing a whole lot to protect herself. And when she's not playing Nancy Drew under the watchful eye of her male superior or flirting with a guy, she's lamenting about what a tragic state her love life is in. Men men men. They still rule your life, even when you're an immortal sex machine. Nice.