Only hours after writing a hateful review of Obsidian, my curiosity got the better of me and I started Onyx.
And while my opinion on the first book still stands, I can honestly say the second book is much, much better. Onyx manages to salvage the series from the depths of mediocrity with a more engaging and complex storyline.
The characters did grow on me a little, too: Daemon (ugh, hate that spelling) is not so one dimensional and Katy's sense of humor kinda cracked me up a little.
Armentrout still plays her readers with Katy's book obsession, working it in fairly regularly with mentions of the blog, reviews, ARC's, Amazon and media mail deliveries, and book boyfriends. And because all this is completely unrelated to the story, worse yet, not even an integral part of Katy's character (in between the book love parts I completely forget that about her), the sole purpose seems to be flattering the audience's egos with some shrewd boot-licking. The blatantness of it is insulting.
Clearly Armentrout is aware that she is sucking up to her audience, but I can't decide if she is conscious of how suggestively manipulative she is being. By overly validating her readers', for example, she's not just making our connection to the main character stronger, she's putting us in the story itself. We're important and appreciated by someone famous, immortalized in print, and best of all, we are no longer faceless observers of the realm of fantasy, but vainly aware of our inclusion in it. She cleverly maneuvers us into feeling invested to the story, and through her attentions we are more loyal, more forgiving, more eager to please. It's goes beyond just the power of suggestion: it's a sneaky way to tap into the loop of positive reflexivity no matter it's legitimacy.
It also makes us susceptive to the almost omnipotent influence an author is capable of wielding. Part of the magic of fiction is that a book can be widely appealing and still intimately personal; our individual connection to a story universally connects us to everyone else who did too, even if for different reasons. Even still, it is easy to feel alone: we struggle to figure out life while the rest of the world surges ahead seemingly unaffected. Especially in the tween to teen years, we are hyper-aware of how others act and deal, feigning maturity while we frantically try to determine the equilibrium of acceptable social behavior.
Books can seem like a voyeuristic glimpse into how it's supposed to be done-- a veritable play book for normalcy. But just because it's published doesn't mean its a consensus, or even true, for that matter. It's simply whatever experience and imagination the author calls upon, which when read by thousands, is now legitimized by shared acceptence.
Because of this, a popular author can have an astronomical influence on more than just their readers, but ultimately, on the whole of society. It can become more than just pop culture references, though: besides the story, the author permeates and infuses the subconciousness of the collective in the most minute ways. This is precisely why there are college courses on Harry Potter and scholarly books about Twilight.
What's always been ironic to me (or coincidental, if you're a purist), is that I have yet to read a YA book written by an actual young adult. But I'm already way off course so I'll save that argument for another time.
So what this all comes down to is that an author, especially one as seasoned as Armentrout, has to be aware of their influence, and such obvious pandering is pretty much on the same level as anonymously writing fabulous reviews about yourself. In other words: tacky.(less)
Jerky guy, no chemistry except primal lust, and lots of vital world-building information hastily brushed over...moreYou people are crazy: this book is lame.
Jerky guy, no chemistry except primal lust, and lots of vital world-building information hastily brushed over with an "I don't know why- that's just the way it is," or "it was explained to me before but now I can't remember." What a cop-out!
And though many authors obviously write to their audience by making the heroine an avid reader, Armentrout's efforts are so ridiculously contrived as to feel pandering!
I have no idea what there is to like about this story, except for the novelty of the underused paranormal element of aliens, which it almost doesn't even qualify for.
But hey, if you did happen to like this, you'll undoubtedly love Brigid Kemmerer's Storm (Elemental #1). I hate that book for almost all the same reasons as this one!(less)
What do you call it when a series is totally lame, and tedious to read, yet you still want to see how the s...moreSeriously NOT looking forward to this book.
What do you call it when a series is totally lame, and tedious to read, yet you still want to see how the story turns out, even though you can't stand the characters?
I must come up with a term to describe this phenomenon.
Update: Interesting way to reinvent the love story, I'll give her that. Romantic tension is always a crowd pleaser.
But besides that, this book is JUST LIKE every other college set story lately. (Seriously, they're all exactly the same.)
Pretty much all the things that made the story original-- Death, death lists, Voodoo princes, etc.-- are significantly underutilized. They're mentioned a couple times, but to me, all that world building just fell apart and got swept under the rug. The story really isn't about all that anymore. The flimsy premise of book 3 isn't taken seriously by the author or the characters, and everything wraps up all too neatly in the end.
Whatever. It's over. I've been released from the series and will try to forget it ever happened.
P.S. What in the world is that preview for Glines' "New Adult Contemporary" in the back? Ew. Even if you rename the genre, it's still just trashy, grocery-store romance. Still no dignity in that.(less)
Aw, man! Stupid story arcs that doom the middle books to be downers.
Coming down off the high of Angel, this sunk quickly into the depressing doldrums...moreAw, man! Stupid story arcs that doom the middle books to be downers.
Coming down off the high of Angel, this sunk quickly into the depressing doldrums that New Moon is so known for. A lot of time passes in the book, a whole new set of characters are introduced, relationships are in trouble, and there's a new boy complicating things.
For the record, I did like Seb (not his name, though-- stick with Sebastian, dude) and his story was interesting and worked well, but as soon as he started stirring up trouble I was super annoyed with him. Just like Jacob in New Moon, he's the looser, rougher guy who makes a great friend, but wants to be more. The difference, is that in Angel Fire its all under the nose of the boyfriend, and there's a whole slew of other people gawking, judging, and interfering. It was the worst kind of tension! My stomach was all knotted anticipating and then watching the train wreck. In all truth, though, this isn't really Seb's fault-- I was more annoyed that his presence in the story was making such a mess than I was with his actions.
And Alex and Willow didn't do as badly as they could have. I especially like how Alex can be so fiercely loyal and unabashedly in love with Willow. He tries on the righteous indignation, but can't handle it very long for all the misery it causes him. He tries to be mature, he tries to be understanding, and he really tries to be trusting. He's got a lot more of my sympathy than Willow does, because we've seen the marked change their relationship has had on him, while Willow kind of just stagnates. Thankfully, there aren't too many of the awful plot devices that so often plague these kinds of stories (ie: snap judgements, deliberate misunderstandings, stony silences, prideful refusal to compromise, selfish insistence at putting oneself in danger, and worst of all, I-am-going-to-break-your-heart-because-I'm-dangerous-to-you-and-that-shows-how-much-I-love-you), but there are SOME.
The pacing was a little too slow, like the story was just dawdling along, but I was grateful that at least it was realistic for the plot-- yeah, it's going to take a long time to get people trained. And yeah, they're doing a lot of blind guesswork and their plans are going to get really messed up more than once. It felt way more authentic that everything didn't work out so conveniently, yet I'm pretty sure that just compounded the Seb-induced stomach knots. Kind of hypocritical on my part; I kept thinking to Willow that she couldn't 'have her cake and eat it too', but I guess I can't have a more realistic story without it being a bit of a rougher read.
Even more than in the first book, I can't believe how CLEAN this story is. I remember very little swearing, and anything more than the minimal kissing descriptions is only barely, barely hinted at. Like, there is a box mentioned, that they need to buy, and maybe at some point they'll have an opportunity to be closer to each other. SERIOUSLY. It's crazy how well the actual words are avoided, making the references banal enough that a younger reader probably wouldn't even catch what was going on, though there is sufficient romance to satisfy the older ones. So, so impressive.
The last thing I want to mention, is that even more than the first book, these characters don't act at all like teenagers. With all the realistic details in this book, this inconsistency really stuck out to me: despite some pretty crazy fantasy elements, I just couldn't believe that they weren't at least 19 up into their mid 20's. I guess it wouldn't really qualify as a YA book then.
So, yeah, I only gave it 3 stars, but its a solid 3. This book serves some really important purposes for the series as a whole, and as such, simply can't stand up to, or be compared to, the first one.
3.5 stars for someone finally putting a different spin on the angel craze!
This author works in Hollywood, and it totally shows with the pretty obvious...more3.5 stars for someone finally putting a different spin on the angel craze!
This author works in Hollywood, and it totally shows with the pretty obvious story arc, stereotypical character types, and lots and lots of action.
Not that I'm complaining--- I couldn't put it down! It was fast paced and suspenseful, with mysterious murders, car chases, and roof scenes-- catching a lot of the feel the Christian Bale Batman movies. It just has this darker, very Film Noir kind of vibe, contrasting strongly with the Hollywood fluff it appears to be.
And the author nails the vapidity of the celebrity/red carpet/gossip rag atmosphere in such stomach-churning detail, that you know he has first hand experience. What makes it so convincing is that it's a not-so-subtle caricature of the real-life Hollywood, and juxtaposed with the dark film element, a clever criticism of the industry itself.
So, the first half of the book was pretty good. I just finished reading a similar story and this one was way more interesting.
Then almost exactly half...moreSo, the first half of the book was pretty good. I just finished reading a similar story and this one was way more interesting.
Then almost exactly halfway through, this book turned to crap. It was laborious to slog through the boring, slow moving, swamp sludge it had become.
And even with the final twist, the end just kind of fell flat to me.
And oh gosh, I can't help but comment on the names:
DANK?? For real? Even if he is death, that's a really, really stupid name. (About as stupid as an angel named Patch.) Why not Gristle or Rot or just plain Grim? I hope Dank isn't a legitimate name, but it sounds made up to me.
As for Pagan, it actually sounds pretty cool, but I just couldn't get past the implied meaning. Was it intentional? I half expected her mom to be Wiccan or at least a hippie. (Maybe if she had siblings would they be named Heathen and Gentile?). My point is, any name sends immediate messages, whether it's the name of the bully who harassed you in second grade, the homecoming queen, but especially when its a regular word. (Just ask Chastity Bono.) Your brain can't help but make associations, and so far, these names are not helping these characters. Whatever. I'm just saying.
But alas, like the idiot that I am, I'm going to attempt the next book. I'm not holding my breath that the story will revive. (less)
I hate it when I betray all sense and can't put down a dumb book. It's so embarrassing.
This is sooo much like sooo many other books: angels, soul-mat...moreI hate it when I betray all sense and can't put down a dumb book. It's so embarrassing.
This is sooo much like sooo many other books: angels, soul-mates, magnetic attraction, maniacal make-out, "perfect" male model-types with spectacularly large amounts of money, a hero complex, and a weakness for only one girl in the world, who he will ultimately push away for her own good....sound familiar yet?
You know what sets this beautiful specimen apart from all the others out there in teen fantasy land? This guy apparently has no soul, and trust me, he's not kidding around. He is just a stiff, dull, robotic, piece of man-candy! I do not get where the relationship comes from, cause he's got absolutely no personality.
And the other guy? He's from North Carolina, but the way his accent is written, made it impossible for me not to hear some horrible twangy drawl. I was never able to think of him as any sort of viable leading man cause all I could picture was a hill-billy!
Evie herself isn't that bad, except of course for her all-too-ready acceptance of the supremely outlandish reality of her circumstances:
"Oh, I've been having all these crazy, scary dreams, and now you're telling me I'm super-this and special-that, and in grave danger from the forces of darkness, unless of course you kill me first?...yeah, I'll go along with that."
Bless her heart, why are they always so dumb like this?
Interestingly enough, the book gives us the answer: faced with something supernatural, Evie thinks, "...maybe it hasn't been too long since my transition into adulthood--and the subsequent abandoning of a world where things like this are possible-- because being thrust over the threshold of this uncanny reality isn't as terrifying as it should be."
A-HA!! I knew it! I had already figured this was the reason the supernatural, fantasy type stuff works so well in YA fiction: the teenage characters are still young enough for their acceptance of the paranormal appear legit. Still close enough to childhood that they haven't become jaded to the possibility of magical things. Which is kind of funny if you think about it, because teenagers supposedly know everything. Interesting juxtaposition, that.
What I wonder, is how accurate that actually is. In other words, are teenagers *really* more open to fantasy or are the adult authors just using teens for these kinds of stories because, besides still having that invincibility misconception, it's harder to believe an adult would willingly suspend disbelief for so long without being committed. (Also because teens are an age when they can "act" like grownups but conveniently have little to no responsibility to hamper the logistics of the story). It's kind of like The Polar Express, with the bell and Santa and all that.
Having YA fic written by adults really is such a chicken and the egg type of situation, because it's hard to know if teens really behave the way any of the books portray, or if adults are using their wishful-thinking hindsight to color their depictions, or if teens in real life act the way they see teens are in books/media thinking that's how other real teens must be but it's really how adults interpret teenage behavior as an adult or how they wish they had been when they were a awkward teen themselves?? You see how it just keeps circling? Like infinity.
And this book had me dwelling on the question of adult influence more than usual because the dialogue was full of sometimes ridiculous slang that sounded more poseur hoodlum than Midwest farmer's daughters. Do normal kids seriously talk like this? I mean, "flossin"? Really? And like most adult-written slang, it starts strong, then tapers off into normal-person (aka grownup) speak for the rest of the book (except for that blasted, twangy hick--he was relentless).
So here we are. As you can see, no matter how unoriginal it is, I still finished it, and clearly, it made me think of a lot of things, and yeah, against all reason I will probably read the next book if I happen upon it. Don't judge me.
In the few short days since I've read this book, I've edited this review several times in my mind. My reaction keeps evolving. I think my progression...moreIn the few short days since I've read this book, I've edited this review several times in my mind. My reaction keeps evolving. I think my progression through these stages is more telling than whatever my opinion of the moment is, so here's how it's gone.
During the book: refer to the top review by Kat cause my feelings were the same.
Last page: "Auuuuggghhh!!! No no no no NO! That can't be the end!!!! You're killing me Sarah Rees Brennan!!" Insert lots of angsty hair pulling and gnashing of teeth. Then suddenly stopping, sitting bolt upright like an alert prairie dog, and gasping, "When does the next book come out?" and frantically pawing at the goodreads app to find out its NEXT SUMMER. Insert forlorn resignation.
Immediately after finishing: "Holy honking wow. That book is dripping with awesomesauce."
Later that day: trying to explain the awesomeness of Brennan's writing to anyone who will listen.
24 hours post-read: stewing. "Oooo, that author just thinks she's soooo clever doesn't she?? Giving me just the right amount of dry banter and witty repartee, not to mention the gothic mysteriousness, so that she reeled me in to that cliff-hanger like the sucker that I am. I feel like one of the poor souls in Ursula's garden in The Little Mermaid. It was ingenious, and she knows it. Ah, as much as I despise her hold over my life right now, I have to admit: Well played, Sarah Rees Brennan, well played."
2-3 days after THAT: "Please, please, please, Sarah Rees Brennan, you can't just leave me here like this! What am I going to do for the next 8 months? Pleeeeeeease release the next book sooner-- tomorrow is good for me-- pretty pleeeease? Look, I'm groveling! I'm really just that desperate! You win, alright? You OWN me!"
So that's where I'm at. I'll let you know if I can get passed this. Otherwise, yeah, this next year is going to be misery.(less)
This is an intense sort of book: much like an art-house flick, the imagery is gauzy, the words lyrical, and the mood uncertain.
A line from the story kind of explains the feeling: "She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness."
Stiefvater's writing is layered with nuance like onion skin, blurring the lines of reality with such subtlety that magic seems to have seeped out all around you.
This almost mystical quality, along with the mythology of the story, actually bears striking resemblance to Catherine Fisher's 'Corbenic', though 'The Raven Boys' is slightly easier to tackle. The truth is, this style of writing is not going to appeal to a lot of people. It's a harder read than most books- even with humor and mystery and the supernatural, this is no Indiana Jones or National Treasure or DaVinci Code. You won't be carried along on a tidal wave of action, but rather pulled in by the undertow.(less)