Eternal and Warriors

I have been trying to read Warriors for over a week now. I’ve gotten about a third of the way through it and can’t seem to get any further. I think part of the problem is that I had expected it to be more of a fantasy world (like sword & sorcery or other planet), but it was just a bunch of feral cats in the country. The other part is that I fundamentally disagree with the premise. Yes, I know it is told from the cat’s POV. Yes, I know it is a work of fiction. But I just couldn’t get past it. When the cats had the discussion about Rusty/Firepaw not being neutered if he joined the clan, I thought about all the animal shelters bursting at the seams with unwanted pets.  When they had stalking lessons, I thought about the impact of feral cats on wildlife and endangered species.  Additionally, housecats are not apex predators. In our neighborhood, we don’t have feral cats – we have coyotes. Owls, raccoons, foxes and snakes also view cats as prey items. I thought the writing was good, the characterization was very good and the pacing was good. I just couldn’t buy into the world.
I read Eternal yesterday. I couldn’t sleep afterward. Not because it was so scary (although I found the idea of being ogled in the shower by a guardian angel disturbing, and as a vegetarian, the scene where the vampire was eating pumpkin bread dipped in blood made me gag). I couldn’t sleep because it was deeply thought provoking and I couldn’t turn my brain off. On the surface, it is a campy tale of boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl, where the boy is an angel and the girl is a vampire. Ms. Smith cleverly uses “blog posts,” the internet and newspaper ads to make the world feel just like our everyday modern life.  But there are much deeper layers. The book asks questions about the nature of life and death. It makes social commentary about the haves vs. the have-nots (princess Miranda doesn’t have to pay for her crimes because she is über-rich and ultra-privileged and yet the hired help pays dearly for any infraction, real or perceived). The castle “blood-stock”  consists of throwaway people (runaways, illegal aliens, trafficked girls), and at first Miranda doesn’t question her right as a superior being to use and abuse them as she sees fit. As she learns more about their misery and degradation, she starts to question her lifestyle and what she’s become. I don’t know if it was intended to be an analogue to factory farming, but I saw parallels (maybe Ms. Smith was just writing about compassion in general). In the end, the story is about redemption and hope. Its conclusion, like Tantalize, is bittersweet.  All of this was done with humor and by the juxtaposition of incongruous things. It was never preachy or heavy handed. It will be a long wait for the next book, Blessed (2011!! Aaargh!).