Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was really impressed with the first book in the Kitty Norville series. It made good use of its urban fantasy trappings, using them to comment on current events and raise awareness of issues that may be overlooked. I was hoping for more of the same in this book. I should know better by now than to go in with high hopes. This wasn't terrible, nor was it everything I hoped.
Kitty Goes to Washington starts with Kitty on the road, dealing with the repercussions of the first book. She travels to radio stations all over the country, mostly the ones in driving distance. Then she's summoned to Washington, D.C. for a Senate hearing on funding for The Study of Paranormal Biology, a department run by the evasive Dr. Flemming. She interviews him on the show she runs outside D.C., but he leaves abruptly when her questions get too probing for him.
Kitty winds up staying with Alette, the local vampire queen, who warns her away from the local were population. Naturally, this makes Kitty curious, and she discovers a whole subculture of alpha-less shapeshifters.
Within this book, Kitty sits through over a week of Senate hearing, does two radio shows, gets convinced psychics may be onto something, after all, disposes of Elijah Smith (the cult leader who's supposedly curing paranormals), goes on some dates, helps Alette deal with a traitor, uncovers a conspiracy involving paranormals, and attains national notoriety. These elements could've combined into an exciting book. Instead, the elements felt disparate and unconnected.
Part of the problem was the number of characters introduced. Kitty may well decide on first impulse who she can trust and who she can't, but I wasn't feeling her bond with any of the new people. The lengths she goes to in order to help Alette, or to dispose of Smith, seem bizarrely intense. There was no hurry in confronting Elijah Smith, so that entire section just felt unnecessarily rushed. The psychic character, who convinces Kitty he's for real with one sentence, gave me whiplash. Kitty being distraught over someone's death, when she was mistrustful and furious at that same person a few short chapters before, struck me as insincere. There were too many elements to establish, and most of them got skimped on.
That's not to say it's a terrible story. Kitty's characterization remains consistent, this book changes things as much as the first one did, instead of letting the world stagnate, and there are some satisfying moments. Kitty takes a big risk in this book, and, while it doesn't entirely pay off, she does end up in a better position for it.
I just wish it hadn't felt so rushed. I would've liked to have known the characters we were supposed to care about for at least one more book. This has the feel of a TV series cut short and the writers scrambling to get things rolling so they'll have enough time to wrap things up.
I listened to this book on audio, read by Marguerite Gavin. Her voice is very believable as a radio personality, and she captures a lot of Kitty's snark well. Though, some of her pronunciations are just weird. Not, "I've never heard that word aloud" weird, but "I've never heard anyone pronounce it that way" weird. Regardless, she's a good choice of narrator for these books.
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