Title: Discount Armageddon
Author: Seanan McGuire (Reader: Emily Bauer)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: November 2012
Length: 11 hr 20 min (352 pages)
Series: Incryptid (#1)
Audio or Book: Audio
Reason for Discovery: Mira Grant
The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity - and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city.
Verity is your average girl who is trying to make a name for herself in New York City. She loves to dance and is trying to make a professional career out of it. Verity's life is pretty standard for the 20-something-year old in NYC; she is working a dead-end job and going to auditions/competitions whenever she can. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention her other job. Verity's family studies and protects cryptids (supernatural creatures). Unfortunately, not all cryptids are keen to have Verity's help and sometimes want to kill her for her trouble. Also, a few generations previously, her family broke with a super, secret organization who made its mission to seek out and kill all cryptids. The super, secret organization is not very pleased with Verity's family and has a shoot to kill order in place. Hmm, I guess Verity's live isn't so typical.
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to marathon watch Supernatural. We thought it would be a show that we would both enjoy, because we are both SF&F fans. I was never in love with the show and one of the reasons was that Sam and Dean kept killing supernatural creatures even after they realized that not all supernatural creatures were dangerous (it seemed at one point they were cool with some "supes" but then they changed their mind again). Verity Price and her family are like hunters on Supernatural who had a change of heart and strive to protect the cryptid community (within reason of course). This series is everything that I wanted Supernatural to be and more (note: this is Supernatural pre-angels and demons).
If you are looking for a fun, urban fantasy series with a female protagonist, Discount Armageddon and the Incrpytid series is for you. There is a little bit of romance, but the focus of this tale is on Verity and her mission to protect the cryptids of New York. I found this series to be just what the doctor ordered after completing the Sookie Stackhouse series and wanting something with a little less romance and sexy times. McGuire does have a love interest and one mildly steamy scene; however, at the end of the day, McGuire's focus is on the mystery. All the details and the plot move towards the mystery, not the romance. The reader knows that if the romance works out, Verity will get a little more help, but even without the potential lover's help, Verity is going to get things done.
Let's talk about Verity. She is quite an interesting and unique character. I really liked the fact that she was trying to decide whether she wanted to be a professional ballroom dancer or study cryptids. I feel like most of the urban fantasy books I read have protagonists who are already committed to their supernatural life. They cannot imagine choosing something else. It was refreshing to see an urban fantasy protagonist struggle with this decision.
In regards to the plot, I felt that it was a bit slow moving at first. The main focus of the first chunk of the book was getting to know Verity and her life. It was only until later that we really dived into the mystery. It was a wee bit frustrating, but that is "first book in a series" syndrome for you. I will say that in book two (Midnight Blue-Light Special), the plot starts much earlier.
As some of you many know, Seanan McGuire writes under the pen name Mira Grant. I have read all of Grant's novels (I have a few novellas left to go). I thought Discount Armageddon was a stronger book than Parasite and possibly Deadline and Blackout as well. Unlike the three Grant books that I just mentioned, I was surprised by some of the plot points in Discount Armageddon. I am actually surprised that with her fan base, this series has not been nominated for a Hugo or another award. If you are a fan of Grant's books and want to read an urban fantasy tale, I whole-heartily recommend this series.
Audio: Bauer did a great job with tone, inflection, and pacing. The audio was clear and crisp. My one complaint is that Bauer sounded a bit young. She didn't sound like a 20-something-year old, she sounded more like a teenager. The voice did grow on me, and I had to buy the audio book for Midnight Blue-Light Special, because I needed to hear a particular character call Verity "an infuriating woman."
I give this book a 4 out of 5.