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Jaz Parks by Jennifer Rardin

Complete series with 8 novels and a short story collection.
Genres: urban fantasy

Blurb:

Jaz Parks is an assassin. Together with her Vampere partner, Vayl, they take out threats that no one else can handle. However, they may get themselves into more trouble by taking on these tasks no one else can. Jaz is becoming more than human, and Vayl is the only Vampere on the CIA payroll, and one of the strongest. Together, they become powerful, and with their friends helping them nothing can get in their way. Even themselves.

Reading Order:

1. Once Bitten, Twice Shy
2. Another One Bites the Dust
3. Biting the Bullet
4. Bitten to Death
5. One More Bite
6. Bite Marks
7. Bitten in Two
8. The Deadliest Bite

Review:

Jaz Parks is one of those series that I have always considered one of my favourites. It is hilarious, and I love the characters to pieces. Each book is fun and moves quickly. It never feels like it is dragging. They are so much fun! And funny! And Awesome! I still have scenes that will cause me to stop what I’m doing when I remember them and just laugh. However it isn’t all funny, all the time. There are a lot of serious moments. Moments where everything go poorly. I love the balance.

The characters themselves are very urban fantasy. Jaz is an angry, feisty little thing who is trapped inside her own grief. You find out throughout the first book that Jaz went through something that no one should have had to go through, and she is is still recovering from those events. Events she doesn’t even remember. She acts stereotypically crazy: she hears voices talking to her in her head, and she listens to them and even snarks back at them. She has even created an alter-ego to use when around other people while on a job. I really love Jaz. The best part about Jaz is the healing process she goes through over the course of the series.

On the flipside, there is Vayl. He is very quiet and steadfast in himself. He is a good contrast to Jaz. You know he will always be the dependable one, the one to reign in Jaz’s more colourful tendencies. He keeps to himself very well, as you would expect a really old vampire would do. But, he has been alone for too long.

Jaz and Vayl become something more over the course of the series. It isn’t just a relationship, though there is that, too. It is a comradery, it is a single unit. They just fit together perfectly. I love their relationship and what they become. It takes time for both of them to heal enough so they can even be in a relationship.

The side characters are even better, though. Oh my god the side characters. Bergman, the tech genius who doesn’t like magic but can create the best, most awesome tech in the world. Cassandra who is a seer and dependable. And then there is Super Cole who is the funniest person ever and manages to keep everyone rooted together. If Vayl weren’t around he would be the best love interest for Jaz. Cole is naive in a way that shows that life has really never kicked him in the teeth before. I just love all the characters in this, even when they’re annoying the shit out of me. They’re like my family. They basically are a family together.

My one real issue with the series is the worldbuilding. I’m never quite certain how this world is supposed to function as a whole. All of the individual pieces work great. Rardin manages to come up with some of the most unique, awesome things, and when they aren’t custom made for the series she draws from the best inspiration. It is when I put them together that sometimes I have to pause and think to myself “How does that even work?”.

However, I really like the tech in this. Bergman can make anything. Even the most ridiculous things. Including a gun that can flip between gun mode and crossbow mode. Including an indestructible dragon suit. Including the bestest, most adorable, most weird cat ever. The contrast between technology like Bergmans, and the fantasy elements like demons and angels, vampires, rakshasa, gnomes, and more is just great.

Jaz Parks is so much fun in the most ridiculous ways possible. Have you ever read something that is like every ridiculous idea an author has ever had, all put together in a neat little package? That is this series. I cannot even begin to figure out with where Rardin got the ideas for this.

It is really too bad that I will never get another book from Jennifer Rardin. Throughout the course of the series, Rardin proved that she thought in unique ways and could add a lot to the both the subgenre of urban fantasy and to the world of books as a whole. Unfortunately for the genre and the world, Jennifer Rardin passed away shortly before the release of this book. We’ll never get another adventure, and that is just terrible.

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