Monday, July 6, 2009

Review: Nightlife

Title: Nightlife
Author: Rob Thurman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros/Book 1
Published: March 2006

From the back cover ~

“There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that ever since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one…

…Well, half of one, anyway.”

Welcome to the Big Apple. There’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side—and that’s only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half-human.

His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares—and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal. Why? Cal hasn’t exactly wanted to stick around long enough to find out.

He and his half-brother Niko have managed to stay a step ahead for three years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him…for he is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life…

Another new series for me. Not that I needed to add a new one to my reading list but this one kept calling to me. I figured I'd get to it eventually and wouldn't you know eventually happened a heck of a lot sooner than I expected. I spotted Nightlife at the UBS and in the basket it went. I still wasn't planning to start reading it anytime soon. I thought I'd get to it...eventually. LOL But then I kept seeing the series mentioned more and more in blogland. So I started reading and couldn't stop! By the time I finished Nightlife I was checking the libraries to see if they had the next 3 books in the series available - they did!

Nightlife is told from Cal's POV. I like his voice and while his insight rarely has a positive slant to it sure makes for interesting reading. He has that smart ass humor that I love. At times it can be a bit much but overall I liked it. He's got the attitude that if anything can go wrong it does but this comes from his personal experiences starting with his messed up childhood and following into adulthood. He's only 19 but has seen and done things that most people would only see in their nightmares. His internal dialogue and comments on the people and events around him are fodder for some truly laugh out loud moments. Cal's aware of the supernatural beings that exists right along with the humans that don't have a clue they're there. He and his half brother Niko have been training all their lives and running from the things that hunt Cal. Things that he's a part of.

Niko is Cal's half-brother (same mother). He's a tofu loving, Zen master, bad ass blond ninja. He trains hard and takes protecting his brother very seriously. He also takes the training of Cal very seriously much to Cal's disgust. Cal has a bit of a lazy streak, okay, a huge lazy streak. He's more at home kicking back on the couch than in the dojo attempting to kick Niko's ass. But when all is said and done Cal can hold his own thanks to Niko's relentless training. Niko has dedicated his life to keeping Cal safe. They're the only family each other has and they only trust each other. Thurman did a good job of bringing Niko to life. His desert dry humor lets the reader know that he's still a big brother that's quite capable of teasing his little brother. The thing I like best about Niko is his unwavering loyalty to Cal. After reading Nightlife I was hoping we would eventually get Niko's POV and Yeah! We get it in book 4 ~ Deathwish.

The Monsters ~ they are plentiful. There are a number of big and not so big bads in Nightlife and the series in general has a variety of monsters and nasty beasties taken from mythology and everyone's worst nightmares. The main problem I have with all of these supernatural creatures is that they basically stay hidden from the human world. Most of them try to keep a low profile with humans. Why? If they are so much stronger and more powerful than humans why bother? There was an explanation but I still think with this many monsters running around they wouldn't be able to stay under the radar for long. Certainly not centuries. There are times when it seems like Cal and Niko are getting attacked left and right but no cops show up to find out what the disturbance is. This is New York City so you'd think someone would be calling the cops. It's something I've seen not only with this series but with other series as well. I have noticed that authors in general tend to use the theory of people only see what they want to and that anyone who does come in contact with the big bad guys usually ends up dead.

The Blood ~ lots of it. Monsters seem to love blood. They love the sight, the smell and the taste of it. The monsters in Nightlife are no different. Some of the fight scenes are quite graphic and bloody with numerous body parts being bitten, clawed and chopped off. Even with all the blood, blades, guns and claws I had no problem following along on the action. Thurman does a good job painting a vivid picture of the battles that Cal and Niko are fighting.

Cal and Niko aren't the only ones getting some action. :) Robin Goodfellow is a fascinatingly annoying character that I have grown to love. He's a used car salesman that Cal and Niko meet up with. I don't want to say anymore for fear of spoilers but I will say he just gets better and better as the series progresses. I did like what there was of him in Nightlife but didn't feel like I knew him all that well. He's a secondary character that Thurman gives just enough page time to to make him interesting but leave the reader wanting more.

There isn't much at all in the way of romance so if you must have that, sorry, you won't find it here. What you will find is story about two brothers and their relationship. The love between these two comes through whether they're fight monsters or elbowing each other while making smart ass remarks. The scenes with Cal and Niko show not only their love for each other but their mutual respect.

This is Thurman's first book and being the first book in a series I thought she did a remarkable job. It certainly got me itching to read the next book (which I already have) and find out more about these characters and the world they inhabit. There are currently 4 books released in the Cal Leandros series with at least 3 more to come per the author's website. She also has another series starting this fall. The Trickster Novels begin with Trick of the Light, release date September 1 and featuring a female protagonist, Trixa Iktomi. Sounds like another series to add to my list.

Rating: B+


  1. This sounds cool. I like the brothers idea. I've been seeing this around, too, and I'm glad you checked it out! Maybe one to add to the list here for non-steamy summer reading.

  2. Love this series! The sense of humor (so very, very, dark) and that brother bond make for such great reading.
    I'm really interested to see what Rob Thurman will do with a female protagonist in the Trixa series, since she writes men so well.

  3. CJ ~ the brothers are written so well it surprises me that this is a female author. I'm guessing she has brothers. :)

    Renee ~ The humor is very dark, just the way I like it. :) The female protagonist - will she sound more "male"? LOL Should be good.

  4. Thank you so much Leslie for the review!! I have the first book somewhere at home, but I don't know... I probably wasn't in the mood when I last started it. Now I need to get to it LOL :)

    Also, my opinion has slightly changed now that I know the author is a woman. Yes, I know, it's sexist, but hey, that's the reality, I prefer women authors.

  5. You’re welcome nath. :)

    Nothing wrong with preferring women authors over men. I read very few male authors and am much more likely to try a new author who’s female over a male. My guess would be that many male readers are the same way.