Some of my friends are going to be very mad at me, because I didn't love it. I did like it and I can see why they loved it. It's very well written and...moreSome of my friends are going to be very mad at me, because I didn't love it. I did like it and I can see why they loved it. It's very well written and feels new and fresh, in a dark, grungy and seedy way. Everything is very vivid in my mind. I really liked that the characters are pretty complex, not traditional heroes, with many bad qualities and a few good ones thrown in for good measure. Every detail of the system of magic was thought out, with a strong back story.
Which is where it bugged me. I just can't quite get on board with the idea that this society could evolve from ours in the twenty-some years since violent ghosts suddenly emerged and killed one-third of the world's population in 1997. Things are too different, magic is too well entrenched, and the Church is too much in control (at least as far as we can see from the perspective of Chess, our heroine). In general I don't really like when Urban Fantasy books use the premise of "suddenly a big magic event changed everything." It feels forced and a bit like an easy out, a chance to start a story without having to create the setting. Plus I just didn't enjoy the stuff about the Church, the Truth, the Goodies and Elders... which is a foundation of the story. It's just not my kind of tale, I guess. And there were some spooky and icky parts (the worms!) which I think most of my friends would enjoy, but I'm too much of a 'fraidy-cat to like. And the slang, I couldn't get into the rhythm of it, although I like that she made it feel like a different time, it felt forced to me. Terrible calls women dames! OK, I kind of liked that, but it didn't feel natural and smooth to me.
I did really like how the author created the Debunkers, which is Chess' job for the Church. The Church is supposed to protect people from ghosts and pays people if they have an actual haunting. So of course lots of people try to fake it, therefore the Church has trained investigators to determine the truth of the situation. This concept allowed Chess to have a wide variety of abilities, from magic to breaking and entering, in a way that made sense and held together well with the premises of the story. It's such an original idea overall that it makes me dislike the Church stuff a bit less.
I did like the characters, or at least I enjoyed reading about them. Chess is just a bundle of contradictions. She's a drug addict who has no problem double-crossing a whole bunch of people, including the Church that she honestly respects and reveres. But she has good impulses as well, such as wanting to help a young boy she encounters in the course of the story. Not many good impulses, but somehow she's still likable, and interesting.
Terrible is just a great character, a real anti-hero tough guy with a heart of gold. Ugly on the outside (but totally built), smart, clever and sensitive on the inside. I really liked the way he respected Chess, both her abilities and her mind. Lex is still a mystery. He's certainly not a nice guy or a good guy; he's a gang leader and drug dealer. But he also helps Chess out several times and seems respectful as well. We'll see in the next books how his character develops. The guys really reminded me of older and more dangerous/lawless versions of the guys in Kelley Armstrong's YA books. Terrible is Derek, the smart, misunderstood, not handsome but totally built guy, who's prickly but will do anything for the girl. Lex is the handsome rogue, cute but not the guy the girl is destined to be with (I'm betting).
Overall, for me it was really a 3.5 stars books, but the quality of the writing, the originality of concepts, and the detailed and vivid (but very dark) world that the author created made me bump it up to 4 stars. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but it's still a very high quality tale.(less)
This book was a really good surprise. From the official description and the back cover I had the impression that it was more of a paranormal romance....moreThis book was a really good surprise. From the official description and the back cover I had the impression that it was more of a paranormal romance. I was wrong, it's actually a very creative, dark, yet beautiful, Urban Fantasy. (I should have guessed from it being the May selection for my Urban Fantasy GoodReads group, but I still doubted.) I've been reading a lot of urban fantasy lately and some of the "worlds" are starting to blur together. I'm having trouble remembering which characters follow which vampire or otherworldly rules, etc. But this book is totally distinct, very vivid and has some ideas used in ways that were new and surprising to me. I was hesitant to even put it on my Romance shelf, because although there is a romantic element, it is not the driving force of the story. It's much more of a complex and multi-layered mystery using psychological elements and urban fantasy themes. There were some scenes that were so vivid I was almost picturing them as though I was watching a movie. The characters were likable, or hateful. There were just enough loose ends left to leave some intriguing questions for a second book, without leaving anything feeling unfinished or unresolved. Thanks, UF group, it was a great choice!(less)
It's really a 3.5, but the writing is a cleat cut above 3. The author prefaced this entry with an explaination that this is the end of Wren's series,...moreIt's really a 3.5, but the writing is a cleat cut above 3. The author prefaced this entry with an explaination that this is the end of Wren's series, but not books set in this world. The next books will be about Wren's downstairs neighbor, Bonnie. Therefore there are many tantalizing references to Bonnie and her work. If the author hadn't made the connection clear it probably wouldn't have annoyed me. Or tantilized. So, a mixed feeling on that; putting the info at the beginning instead of the end was probably a gamble that paid off. As for Sergie, P.B. and Wren, the story was good but not as touching or exciting as the rest of the series. It was much more about closure than adventure, despite actually being quiet open-ended after all. I suspect to see more of these guys as supporting characters in Bonnie's books, possibly with more starring them if things go well for the author. Anyway, I very much liked the exploration of P.B.'s past and his relationship with Wren. But everything in this book was a continuation of previous plot points. It was definitely a part of a series, not a stand alone novel. There really isn't any aspect of the story that will make sense or be meaningful if you haven't read the other books, at least the first few. (less)
A great book! It has an original premise for vampire lit, skilled writing and character development, and a terrific plot. It wasn't too dark or too li...moreA great book! It has an original premise for vampire lit, skilled writing and character development, and a terrific plot. It wasn't too dark or too light, there was romance without it being the main focus of the book. There is a bit of a mystery, some action, and some drama. The rock and roll aspect was creative and fun. This was definitely one of my favorite urban fantasy books. Be sure to check out the wvmpradio.com website to hear each DJ's playlists. There is even a fun Cafe Press store with WVMP merch, including a cute tee for the dogs. According to the back cover of the book and her website, Ms. Ready-Smith is an active volunteer for dog rescue and has personally adopted a retired racing greyhound. Go Greys!(less)
My friends are going to be mad at me, but I really disliked this book. I wrote 2 pages of notes about things that annoyed me. I wanted to stop reading...moreMy friends are going to be mad at me, but I really disliked this book. I wrote 2 pages of notes about things that annoyed me. I wanted to stop reading several times, but kept going because I hoped to discover what it was that everyone adored so much. It didn't happen.
I will say that I liked the characters. Sort of. I liked their personalities. They felt real. Except that everything else about them and the entire story was just absurd. Completely ridiculous. Kitty is just a Mary Jane, a marketing manager who's suddenly thrust into a bizarre situation who not only thrives, but is a better fighter instantly than trained agents, and a better military commander within days than people who've dedicated their whole lives to it. And solves major problems that people who are supposed to be geniuses have been working on for over 100 years in 10 minutes. She's better at everything than everyone else, makes no mistakes, knows the answer in every situation and is perfect in every way.
Kitty's parents' personalities and interactions with their daughter and others are terrific, but their back story is ridiculous. Everything is ridiculous. There's just too, too, too much of it. There could have been a good story here, if there wasn't so much absurdity. It's the author's personal Men In Black fantasy gone wild, but not in a fun way. I like silliness. I love banter. But it has to make a little bit of sense and be somewhat relevant to the story. I could go on and on and on about the details that annoyed me. Maybe it was supposed to be funny that all of this stuff would be piled together one absurdity on top of another, but I hated it. I need an actual story that makes sense to go with my banter and romance. And I actually found the Mossad thing offensive, as well as stupid. The only non-Jewish, non-Israeli Mossad agent at age 19? Why was that necessary? American wouldn't have been good enough? And her dad's job? For NASA? And what the heck was the thing about the robot?!? And the point that they couldn't kill the monsters when they looked like humans because they'd look like terrorists themselves, but it was OK to let them kill a lot of people and destroy a lot of property and then manipulate the media after to makes sure that no one knew; so who would know enough to think they were terrorists? This is typical of the entire book; the author has a cool idea and writes circles around it to try to make it hold water instead of just coming up with ideas that make sense in the first place. And the religious angle, and the explanation for why Kitty got involved? Just dumb. The whole thing was just dumb to me.
I liked the chemistry between Kitty, Jeff and Christoper. I liked the personalities of most of the characters. I liked that Kitty was smart and brave. I loved the extra hold hair spray. I hated everything else. To me it was all gimmick (after gimmick after gimmick...) and no substance. It's too bad, these characters deserved a lot better.(less)
I think after reading a couple of reviews saying that it was slow to start, or confusing in the beginning, I was over-prepared to give it time, so I w...moreI think after reading a couple of reviews saying that it was slow to start, or confusing in the beginning, I was over-prepared to give it time, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it pretty intriguing from the beginning. Though I might have been a bit frustrated at the slow roll-out of information at times if I hadn't been warned. But I did kind of like the realistic investigation pace, cops almost always take a long time to do things in real life, it's only on TV and on movies that they break big cases in a few days. And there were enough interesting elements early on that kept me happily intrigued. I liked the characters right away, definitely the main Mead staple that carries through all of her series (except the men in her Dark Swan series, they were questionable and major fail). I was curious about the post-apocalyptic world and how it got that way, and what the details of it's structure would turn out to be as they were slowly being revealed. I actually liked the slow reveal vs. major infodumps, even if it was frustrating to want to know more, it also kept me turning the pages to figure things out; infodumps are so boring. And I was really interested to see how Justin's invisible raven companions with the pretty spoilery H and M beginning names in a book about the gods fit into everything. I just liked the way everything slowly unraveled. Why was Justin exiled? Why did Mae join the military? Who is she looking for? Why was Kavi so slow? Each reveal wasn't mind-shattering in and of itself, but it all wove together and kept creating something bigger and more solid and interesting to see and follow and watch and understand.
I saw some complaints about the lack of explanation, even by the end of the book, of a complete history and description of how the government operates. A lot of post-apocalyptic books are vague about the history that got them to this point and the specifics of the current government. Some make it work, others just fail. Think about The Hunger Games, for example, that series is vague, vague, vague, but it works fine. Or I just read Lauren DeStafano's first book, it's world building is certainly a huge weak point, and what she does spell out isn't rooted in reality at all. It is more common in young adult books than in adult series but it isn't that surprising to me that every detail isn't spelled out here. It wasn't relevant to the story at this point. I expect we'll find out more as the series goes on, just like we continued to get more information spooled out slowly about the characters and their individual histories throughout this book. It's a common technique, further layers about the world building are revealed as each book is released as it relates to each novel, delving deeper and deeper into the world. Actually, Hunger Games is a good example of that, each book revealed deeper layers to the story and the world building. I could be wrong, but since the end of the book indicates that the politics of the world are pretty important to who the pieces on the board are going to be, I think that we're going to see more about the big picture in the next book.
The only thing that wasn't explained that really annoyed me was Mae's implant, because it was relevant to this story. What the heck was it, what did it control, or let her do, or limit, or whatever? The extreme vagueness of the implant and what the Praetorians actually were was very annoying.
(view spoiler)[My other big complaint was how dumb Justin was about the ravens and their boss. Really, it took until the very end to think to look up who the guy who saved him might be? He had two huge clues in his head every minute of every day for the last four years. The guy who questions everything wasn't driven mad by curiosity? How many supernatural figures were associated with two ravens, that would have been a place to start. The H and M would have cinched it for him. Making him need to figure out the name as a major reveal at the end of the book was pretty lame. I get that these things weren't commonly known in his time anymore, but he was familiar with a lot of the major pantheons from doing his job, and he obviously had access to resources to look it up. It made a man who is supposed to be the smartest guy around look really dumb. (hide spoiler)]
I did think that the central plot of the book, the murder mystery, limited the story a bit. It was more a tool to showcase the character development and world building, and the central idea that the author was trying to slowly reveal, than a great story in and of itself. The secondary characters were a bit weak too, they just sort of wander in and out and reveal things about the main characters when it's convenient for the author, more than being significant themselves.
Some people complained that it was confusing, dense, complex, etc. and I really didn't find it to be that way. Maybe it's because some of them are used to reading primarily urban fantasy or paranormal romance? I'm not judging, that's most of what I read these days. And one of the reasons I read them is because it's easier, I don't have to absorb new worlds and their histories, languages, cultures, geographies, my brain just isn't always up to it these days. Which is not to say that their brains aren't up to it!!! No comments, please. But just that maybe they didn't enjoy the style. I like urban fantasy because I can open the book and instantly be immersed, so ramp up, no effort, I know what Chicago or Atlanta look like, I get it, easy peasy. And this one definitely took a bit more patience to let the it all absorb, to just see where it was going. It wasn't actually a ton of information, I just had to let it unfold. So granted, it wasn't a huge page turner, it took a bit more attention than some books, but I was constantly engaged and eager to get back to it, and finished it in three days. Compared to George R.R. Martin, this was a walk in the park! Which is not to say that I don't understand some of the complaints. The slow pace of the reveals could be very frustrating, depending both on your personality and on your expectations.
And I definitely think expectations play a big part of what's going into who's reading and reviewing and how they're reading and reviewing this book so far from what I'm seeing. Mead's core audience isn't necessarily the right audience for this book. Or at least them coming in expecting a "Richelle Mead" book isn't necessarily the right mindset for enjoying the book. For the first time I'm seeing why authors who want to try a new genre use a pen name. What would have happened to Seanan McGuire if she'd release Feed under that name instead of as Mira Grant? I'm not saying that the frustrations that people had with the pacing of the book should be solely attributed to their expectation by any means. The author made some choices and took some big risks and has to live with the fall-out. It just seems like a lot of the disappointment I'm seeing in this book is coming from people who expected it to be something different than what it is, not necessarily because it isn't good in and of itself. I guess we'll never know what fresh eyes would have made of it. But without Mead's name who knows if it would have gotten many readers at all. It's always a gamble.
Anyway, it had some issues for sure, but overall I thought it was intriguing and an interesting new direction for Mead. I'm looking forward to seeing where she takes it in book two, I hope she juggle all of the balls she left up in the air and develop it into something special. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
A very good first book. Interesting premise, a very different magical history and structure. Great characters. Gritty and dark without being bleak. Lo...moreA very good first book. Interesting premise, a very different magical history and structure. Great characters. Gritty and dark without being bleak. Looking forward to the next one.(less)
A very good dark fantasy series. Great lead character, a mouthy half-werewolf/half-vampire. Good mystery that kept me interested. Billed as a romance...moreA very good dark fantasy series. Great lead character, a mouthy half-werewolf/half-vampire. Good mystery that kept me interested. Billed as a romance series and has a lot of sexual situations, but not especially erotic. (less)