I wasn't going to read this, because I found this book's predecessor to be pretty underwhelming. However, I felt like putting off reading something elI wasn't going to read this, because I found this book's predecessor to be pretty underwhelming. However, I felt like putting off reading something else, and this was convenient. It took me a few hours over the course of two days, and I would say it was actually enjoyable reading. This book, like the last one, could have used a little more development, but I wouldn't say it was so underdeveloped as to be deficient. James, who was a worthless set piece in Lament, had an actual personality in this story. He went through believable changes and I think teens could probably relate to him.
James and his friend Dee have enrolled in a boarding school for music students. He spends the beginning of the book pining for his woeful best friend, who is extremely depressed following her separation from her supernatural boyfriend from the first book. Due to this, she's pretty self-involved and vacant and generally uninterested in anyone else's feelings but her own. This isn't meant to sound unsympathetic. Stiefvater actually does a pretty good job of portraying the symptoms of a suicidal person, even if the symptom of the character's depression is a little questionable. Readers of Lament will find it hard to believe why Dee was in love with her boyfriend to begin with, let alone why she might endlessly pine for him.
While James struggles to get over Dee, he is visited by a literally soul-sucking fairy, who wants him to agree to give his life to her in exchange for the means to create brilliant music. James is wise to her plan though and refuses. However, what neither James or the fairy Nuala planned on was falling for the other. I found their relationship fairly believable. Unlike Dee's foray into instant, headlong love, James and Nuala grow to like each other over time and see the value in one another through their experiences together. What a novel idea for a YA book.
Nuala was my favorite. She was sassy and angry and sad but not a whiner. I can see shades of James and Nuala in later works by Stiefvater. It's almost as if she tries out personalities and then hones them in future stories, because her characters seem to have similar arcs: issues with purpose and self-worth, suicidal thoughts, confusion about their relationships to people they think they know. I've read there's a third book coming out in this series. I'm not sure what else is left to say, and I have to say I'm skeptical. This was a good book, but it wasn't amazing....more