I don't give many 5 star reviews, but this one is definitely a 5 star book for me. While I liked Mortal Instruments, I wasn't as rabid a fan as I know...moreI don't give many 5 star reviews, but this one is definitely a 5 star book for me. While I liked Mortal Instruments, I wasn't as rabid a fan as I know many people are, so I read Clockwork Angel out of curiosity more than anything else...and I'm so glad I did!
This book is spectacular, with everything I'd wanted in the TMI series and more. The magic and mysteries are compelling and Victorian London is a fantastic backdrop to this steampunk tale about a girl who discovers she has incredible powers...and an incredible past. Tessa is a vibrant, fascinating heroine and all the secondary characters, including Will and Jem and Charlotte, are engaging and sympathetic. I thought this book was much more mature than the TMI series, so I'm very much looking forward to reading the next two Infernal Devices installments. I *loved* the clockwork army and the clever way Tessa learns to use her powers to overcome her enemies.
Jem is really great, but I LOVE Will. I have theories about his deep, dark secret...and I think he's being cruel to Tessa for a very good reason. Can't wait for Clockwork Prince!(less)
What if you were an angel in exile...but you had no memory of why you'd fallen?
Mercy is a fallen angel who repeatedly wakes up in a new body following...moreWhat if you were an angel in exile...but you had no memory of why you'd fallen?
Mercy is a fallen angel who repeatedly wakes up in a new body following each time she's helped someone through a personal crisis. She doesn't know why she's doomed to this existence, only that she must somehow try to better that person's life while she's there.
This time, however, she wakes up as a foster child of a deeply troubled family, whose 18-year-old daughter Lauren has been missing for two years. The mystery unfolds slowly as Mercy and Ryan, the missing girl's twin brother, follow various clues and interview different people who might know more than they volunteer about Lauren's disappearance.
The blend of suspense, romance, and the supernatural come together beautifully in this first book of a quietly dazzling new series. Mercy's powers are extraordinary, but as a girl who is drawn to the human boy she's trying to help and who is struggling with her own issues, she's also an extremely relatable and likable character. Complicating matters are her dreams of her lost love, an angel who yearns for Mercy but warns her that taking action in this particular lifetime will mean that they will never again come together.
Mercy also contains lovely imagery of music and song, and even if readers are able to guess the identity of perpetrator towards the end, they'll still enjoy the well-written story, compelling characters, and complicated connections drawn by this talented Australian author. The book wraps up the mystery of Lauren's disappearance in a satisfying way, even as it jolts readers with the painful recognition that Mercy must now leave the boy she's beginning to care for. Fortunately, the sequel Exile is expected to come out in June of this year, with Muse to follow in 2012.
Like Unearthly and Angel , this is a book that isn't content to merely use the mythology of angels as a backdrop for shallow high school melodrama or cruel, controlling relationships; instead, it's a beautiful allegory for the power of love and faith wrapped up in a dark and engrossing mystery.
Fun fun fun! I love Vampire Academy but I haven't been able to get into the Georgina Kincaid books as much, so it's great to find that this series is...moreFun fun fun! I love Vampire Academy but I haven't been able to get into the Georgina Kincaid books as much, so it's great to find that this series is so entertaining. Eugenie, like all of Richelle Mead's heroines, is a kick-ass character and both Kiyo and Dorian are appealing in different ways. Some great action scenes, in both the battle field and the bedroom. Looking forward to starting Thorn Queen.(less)
This is the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love. Lochan and Maya are best friends who have known each other their entire lives and have helped...moreThis is the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love. Lochan and Maya are best friends who have known each other their entire lives and have helped each other and fiercely loved one another through the many brutally painful experiences of growing up.
The thing is, they also happen to be brother and sister, and the unholy mess of the repercussions from their choices looms over this entire story.
No one who picks up a book like this can be unaware of the potential pitfalls. It's all too easy for an author to resort to the tasteless exploitation of sticky sentiment or breathy fumblings that heighten the excitement of a taboo relationship. What you'll find instead with Forbidden is a book written with stunning insight and incredible compassion, and two characters who will absolutely break your heart.
There is very little dialogue in this novel, and the narrative alternates in chapters between Lochan and Maya's points of view. As such, the reader gets to know both of them very well and experiences in minute detail the complicated terror of their lives at home. The two of them essentially function as the parents of three younger siblings in their household, as they have no father and their alcoholic mother neglects them for weeks at a time. The relationship between 17-year-old Lochan and 16-year-old Maya, already close since they were children, changes subtly and realistically as they gradually become aware of each other as adults.
The clarity of vision and strength and selflessness of both these characters is unparalleled in any young adult book I've ever read, and the way the author draws the reader in with their relationship is astounding. The intimacy and companionship, the joy and maturity, and the self-doubt and heavy responsibilities of these two young people drawn together in a terrible situation is described with extraordinary empathy and understanding.
Without the cruelty and selfishness of similarly challenged characters in books like Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden or the confused, casual amorality of Janet Inglis' characters in the novels Darling and its follow-up Father of Lies, Forbidden intelligently and passionately explores emotions that feel desperately genuine and impossibly tragic. As the book builds unbearably to its unforgettable and devastating conclusion, the things that Lochan and Maya will sacrifice for the ideals of love and responsibility are astounding.
This is perhaps not a perfect book, but it is one that may open up a tiny crack in your armor and flood you with unexpected feeling. Whatever your pre-conceived notions about the sensitive subject of this novel, I defy anyone with a heart to experience the vibrant, pulsing emotions in this story and remain unmoved. I wept like a child--I bet you will, too.
I don't read a lot of realistic YA fiction precisely because of books like this: well-meaning, angsty Books with Messages whose earnest agendas are pe...moreI don't read a lot of realistic YA fiction precisely because of books like this: well-meaning, angsty Books with Messages whose earnest agendas are perfectly clear to anyone who skims the jacket. It's funny that a book that wants so very much for people to look past the mark on Terra's face has so much trouble focusing on much of anything except that.
Despite being a decently-sized novel, somehow how the abusive dad, the meek mother, the endless references to cartography, the artwork, and the boyfriends all feel like 2-dimensional filler, much like Terra herself. None of the characters or details really come alive or invoke any feeling for me, and the writing furthers the awkwardness with sentences such as, "Spent, I fell into bed, closed my eyes, and dreamt of torn maps falling on me like fresh snow." The events and emotions just didn't ring emotionally true, although I seem to be in the minority in my opinion on this one!
This isn't really a bad book, but it's not one I would really recommend--unless there's a reader out there that has somehow made it through life thus far without realizing that beauty is only skin-deep. (less)
My poor heart has never felt this way after finishing a series; I had no idea it was possible to feel such tempered happiness as well as such overwhel...moreMy poor heart has never felt this way after finishing a series; I had no idea it was possible to feel such tempered happiness as well as such overwhelming grief for everyone involved. Many of the things I thought might happen, did--and yet it doesn't change my fierce love and admiration for the way everything unfolded.
THIS is how a love triangle should be written, in a way that preserves the honor of everyone involved. There isn't another series out there that has ever managed to handle one with such love and kindness and respect.
Ugh, that epilogue. Still sobbing uncontrollably. I don't know how to stop! My puny human heart wasn't meant to process such epic love stories.
P.S. If you're considering reading the Infernal Devices series, I wrote a real review for Clockwork Prince here, which is book #2. It contains no spoilers, even if you haven't read the first book.
3.5 stars Some amazing angel imagery and shocking scenes, though I think Mercy is the stronger book of the two. It's disappointing to have to wait so...more3.5 stars Some amazing angel imagery and shocking scenes, though I think Mercy is the stronger book of the two. It's disappointing to have to wait so long between installments in the US, though! All four have already been published in other countries.
I really, really wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of novels set during the Victorian era, as I've always been very interested in how thinking, reas...moreI really, really wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of novels set during the Victorian era, as I've always been very interested in how thinking, reasoning people-especially women--manage to survive in such a repressive society. It's the same reason I like Jane Austen novels, because the yearning for connection with other human beings is so often at odds with the strict customs of the day.
There's a tendency now in books for authors to just ignore those rules and just barrel forward with whatever story or agenda they may want to promote. I know that it's difficult from a modern standpoint to write about a spirited heroine without bending some rules here and there, but it's annoying that so many authors go ahead and just plain break them. Don't get me wrong--the author clearly has done a lot of research into the time period, and I believe it was also her educational specialty. But I find it tiresome that girls in historical novels keep getting put into breeches or constantly talk back at their superiors or go out and linger unattended on the streets. I know, I know, Mary is supposed to be a detective and whatnot, but girls of this time and in her position would never dream of behaving in this way. Showing courage and spirit and passion when extraordinary circumstances call for it is one thing, but to blithely move about everyday life as if expressing your wishes and opinions is commonplace is just plain wrong for this time period. If this is something an author wants to do, he/she is better off writing a steampunk novel or a story set in an alternate universe. I would argue that there must be a way for a gifted writer to make the book more true to the period of the time while keeping the spirit of adventure alive.
The writing itself is something that bothered me, too. The language of the time is fairly formal and specific, with a distinct wording and rhythm of its own. I just didn't feel convinced by the tone that was struck here, nor were the plotting or the mystery or the characters particularly unique. I happened to have the follow-up book from the library and I skimmed through that one as well to see if it was any more engaging, but for me, unfortunately, these books just don't work.
My first Murakami novel, and apparently not a good one to start with. I know that a certain emotional distance and obliqueness comes with Japanese lit...moreMy first Murakami novel, and apparently not a good one to start with. I know that a certain emotional distance and obliqueness comes with Japanese literature, but the characters here carry it to extremes...and the writing is not fluid or beautiful enough to make up for it. I'm curious if translation problems have anything to do with it, but alas, am not stirred enough to really look into it.(less)
This review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about scien...moreThis review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about science fiction novels or zombie thrillers: the Newsflesh trilogy defies all expectations. The story that began with a turbulent political campaign in a post-apocalyptic Feed escalates here as the blogger journalists from After the End of Times continue their quest to uncover the truth behind the deadly Kellis-Amberlee virus that has decimated civilization--one that is now mutating and spreading faster than ever before. The breakneck action and intrigue in Blackout is intense as a dangerous rescue mission, disease-carrying mosquitoes, zombie bears, tangled family drama, and a mysterious patient known as Subject 7B all complicate what is already hell on earth.
It's funny that my favorite zombie series actually has the least amount of zombie action in it, but Newsflesh hasn't ever been about the undead anyway--it's about the human response to it. As with The Reapers Are the Angels and Warm Bodies, this series is fascinating to me because it explores the idea of personal integrity within extreme circumstances. What would you do when the world ends? If you're Shaun and Georgia Mason, adopted siblings whose closeness forms an unbreakable team, you lead your fellow bloggers into an unrelenting search for truth--no matter what the cost. Or at least, that's how their story began. But now that the stakes are higher than they've ever been and those they love most are at risk, the focus has shifted to a very human need to hold onto the connections that matter most.
Blackout seamlessly combines medical thriller, political intrigue, and pulse-pounding action sequences with unforgettable human drama. How you feel about this series will very much depend on how you feel about the characters in general--if you love the Masons, Alaric, Becks, Mahir, and Maggie, you'll most likely have a fantastic time with Newsflesh. It doesn't mean the characters are perfect, of course; Shaun in particular is mourning a huge loss, and his reckless, desperate behavior in the second book caused a lot of criticism from a lot of readers. For me, I felt his pain so keenly, however, that his torment became mine--and I understood, too, the unconventional, defiant ways in which he grasped for some semblance of happiness as the world around him was destroyed. In books and in real life, I respond very strongly to loyalty, honesty, and the determination to do what's right. Shaun and Georgia, as well as their superbly realized supporting cast, embody those traits in a big way. Because they also are slammed with unbelievable suffering throughout these books that require a brutal amount of self-sacrifice, it isn't any wonder that I feel such fiercely protective love for them, as well as for the ideals they represent.
The author's writing gets better and better in each book, with well-researched scientific dilemmas and brilliant recaps that engage the reader without resorting to long info-dumps. Her brisk, matter-of-fact style of writing suits the story perfectly, and the sophisticated plot is exceptionally well-paced, with shifts from furious action to moments of stark stillness and contemplation handled beautifully. Whether we're getting worked up over red herrings, watching someone facing her own mortality, or respectfully acknowledging fallen comrades, the emotional pitch throughout the book felt utterly right, which is something that is very hard to pull off when there are so many ethical issues at stake.
A few random thoughts with REAL spoilers, because there's no other way to discuss them:
(view spoiler)[Subject 7B's realization of who and what she is is totally kickass. I loved how very true to her character this whole scenario was, and how believably all the cloning issues were integrated with our human need to recognize this person.
The scenes where 7B looks on the 8s made me really sad. :(
I'm so glad that one of the major plot points wasn't rescuing Georgia, because I cannot imagine any situation less likely to happen. The way she escapes and the way everyone reacts to seeing her was pitch-perfect.
I am SO happy to have Georgia back. Sheesh, I missed her so much! And it's nice to have a break from all the crazy of being in Shaun's head, hah.
I'm glad that Shaun and Georgia got to ride off into the sunset a bit, though I'm still sad for the brave, original Georgia who died in such a devastating way.
There were certainly some plot lines that I saw coming, and although I'm a little surprised that we got a HEA, obviously this didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book at all. The way it was handled felt just right. (hide spoiler)]
I don't know that I've ever read another series where the emotion it evoked was so intense--Feed left me crying so hard I could hardly see the keyboard, Deadline had me literally whimpering with pain in the middle of the night, and Blackout made me want to scream with excitement and agony and worry all at once. If you'd told me that a science fiction trilogy with zombies could be so searingly emotional or feel so incredibly personal, I'd have told you it was impossible. And I've never been happier to be proven wrong. I know most true fans of this series will race through the pages just like I did, with the same urgency and dread and excitement.
While I'm so sad that this particular story is over (although there are two more Newsflesh novellas coming this year) and I dearly wish they could all turn into zombies so this story could live on forever, I'm happy with the way the story ended. I'm sure Mira Grant's new forthcoming novels Parasitology and Symbiogenesis will be absolutely spectacular.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
P.S. For more proof of the power of Mira Grant's writing, read the alternate ending to FEED, Fed, at the bottom of the review on our blog which is ONLY safe for those who have already read the first book. Holy frak, that woman is an evil genius. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
4.5 stars This book defies every just about every red flag that pops up in YA literature. Are you cautious when trying out a brand new author? Do you...more4.5 stars This book defies every just about every red flag that pops up in YA literature. Are you cautious when trying out a brand new author? Do you sometimes wince when girls behave in classic "mean girl" fashion towards each other? Do you get sick of brand names being dropped into casual conversation? Well, you'll find all of that and more in Shirley Marr's debut novel. And the funny thing is, because it's in the hands of a gifted author, it all works. Beautifully.
Within minutes of meeting Eliza Boans, you quickly realize that she's a spoiled, murderous brat. She's a privileged teenager living in the exclusive community of East Rivermoor, and she's just confessed to a heinous crime in an interrogation room--but exhibits not a single shred of remorse. She's far more concerned about returning to her pampered life in which she rules the roost of girls at her school, and where her absent mother indulges her with every luxury item she could possibly think of. Eliza is someone who could easily get away with murder...except that the story isn't quite that simple.
Told in darkly humorous flashbacks as Eliza alternately charms her interrogator and frustrates him with evasions and half-truths, Fury is a fast-moving mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out why a young girl, even one with such an outwardly confident attitude, would defiantly take on such a serious charge. Fury is also a brilliant character study of a girl who has everything going for her on the surface, but whose arch, careless demeanor and sarcastic observations hide an enormously complicated history and hidden emotion.
I loved the fierce friendships--as well as the fierce rivalry--between Eliza and her friends. I loved the crack in Eliza's armor when it comes to her friend Nick. I loved the many, many nods to Jane Austen. And above all, I loved the incomparable Eliza, who makes no apologies for her life or her attitude. Even when you discover the secrets seething beneath the glamorous surface of her life, she wastes no time on pity for herself. Nor for anyone else who doesn't deserve it.
This is a smart, superbly well-written book that strikes the perfect tone in balancing serious subjects with dark humor and a near-perfect teen narrative. It's a much better interpretation of the myth of the Greek Furies than Elizabeth Miles' Fury, which also featured teenagers being punished for bad behavior, but that book doesn't even come close to this one in terms of plotting, character development, humor, and emotion. It proves the point that a well-plotted story with depth can surpass all misgivings and shine brightly among all the other paranormal YA books with a beauty all its own.
I do wish there was a little more time with the characters after everything had been revealed, though you could chalk up some of that to the fact that I just didn't want this book to end. It's rare that a debut novel can knock your socks off like this--but anyone who spends time with Eliza will never forget her.
Fury is currently only available in Australia, but overseas publishers really need to snap up this author for other audiences. If you can't wait, please visit an Austrialian bookseller such as Fishpond online.
After being so moved by Tabitha Suzuma's incredible Forbidden, I was very interested in finding more books by this author. It's hard to engage readers...moreAfter being so moved by Tabitha Suzuma's incredible Forbidden, I was very interested in finding more books by this author. It's hard to engage readers intellectually and emotionally when you're tackling such touchy subjects, but the author managed to do so with extraordinary grace and dignity. None of her other four novels are currently available stateside, but thanks to the fabulous Book Depository I managed to get them all in my hot little hands from the U.K. at a very reasonable price.
The first thing I should mention right off the bat is that From Where I Stand is definitely a book for readers in the younger end of the 12 - 18 YA spectrum. This took me by surprise after the rather adult nature of Forbidden, so it took me awhile to adjust to the somewhat simpler framework and characterizations of this novel. Raven is a troubled foster child who thinks that his mother was murdered, and he's on a mission to find justice for her even as he struggles to adjust to a life with new foster parents and a new school.
The author touches on a lot of subjects here, including abandonment, bullying, murder, suicide, and self-mutilation, in addition to all the usual teens-in-trouble types of problems such as anger, isolation, resentment, despair, and loneliness. Given that the protagonist is only 14 (and presumably, the book's intended audience is young as well), it's hard to delve into those subjects with a satisfying degree of depth or detail. As I was reading it, I kept thinking how similar the set-up and feel are to The Great Gilly Hopkins, a book I liked a lot as a pre-teen, except that of course, this one is much more dark and urban. I would say that the narrative, while certainly riddled with more immediate obstacles than Gilly's, is not too far off in what it explores and what it does not.
The book is overall pretty well-written, although I have to say that after awhile Raven's gullibility and tendency to dissolve into tears became a little repetitive. He has a lot of reasons to be upset, but some of that has to be balanced with initiative and strength of character in order to keep the reader's sympathy. Still, it's a book that younger teens may find very compelling for its subject matter. And I'm still eager to try out the author's other books.(less)
If you gently shook a snow globe, you might find that the snowflakes come down on an enchanting story much like this one. Hazel’s best friend Jack has...moreIf you gently shook a snow globe, you might find that the snowflakes come down on an enchanting story much like this one. Hazel’s best friend Jack has disappeared, and the quiet, scrappy fifth grader must overcome her fears—not to mention a mysterious witch and numerous other challenges—in order to save him.
This lovely story, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, unfolds slowly and beautifully. As an adult who still reads or rereads a lot of children’s books and an avid lover of fairy tales, I was very much looking forward to reading this novel. Hazel turns out to be a brave, imaginative heroine whose love of books and quiet wonder at the world made me overjoyed to find such a kindred spirit. My heart also ached in sympathy for Hazel’s puzzlement and pain over the real life problems she faces, including her adoptive parents’ divorce, her sense of being an outsider as a child of Indian descent, and Jack’s sudden coldness to her before he goes away.
The strongest and most compelling part of this book for me was how the author so seamlessly modernized this classic story. It is extremely difficult to retain the fairy tale elements of timelessness and mystery and magic while working in unforced contemporary references, but the author managed to do so with a great deal of ease and charm. Above all, the rift between Jack and Hazel, which is explained away by a cold shard of magical glass that got into his eye, works exceptionally well as a metaphor for growing up, much as it worked for the children of Narnia. The writing is just gorgeous, with wonderful descriptiveness and moments of true beauty. You can practically feel the sting of ice and the flurry of snow on your face as you read this story, and you can definitely feel Hazel’s wistfulness and longing to simply…belong. And to matter, to someone, somehow.
I am a little puzzled by the audience for whom this book is intended, however. The jacket copy lists ages 8 – 12, but the narrative really sounds more like it’s a bedtime story for adults—or perhaps one that’s meant to be read aloud to children. It doesn’t really get into Hazel’s head so much as explain to you what she’s thinking or what it might mean, as there’s a little too much exposition for the reader to be unaware of the adult who is writing it.
And while I was so thrilled with the literary references in the first half of the book, with subtle nods to everything from C.S. Lewis to Philip Pullman to J.K. Rowling, I have to confess that this eventually became a little distracting to me because there were so many of them. I appreciate that Hazel is a voracious reader, and the reader in me rejoiced to be reminded of so many beloved classics, but even with the knowledge that books are her windows to understanding the world, it all became a little too much. The writing is so strong, the images so evocative, and Hazel so thoroughly winning that I didn’t feel as though it was necessary to spend so much time focusing on other books. Some of the fairy tale elements that Hazel encounters later in the forest did interest me quite a bit, especially considering their dreamlike quality, but again, I think this would have been a perfectly strong book on its own--with its own mythology and its own unique feel—without relying so heavily on other people’s stories.
The ending also feels very rushed and rather underdeveloped, in both story and emotional satisfaction. Overall I found that the first two-thirds of the book, as readers get to know Hazel and her quirks and her insecurities, is much more compelling than the last act, when things finally get moving with the big rescue. For while the idea of a child being so immersed in stories is certainly a bewitching one, at some point that child must step out of that fairyland in some way in order for this to be a true story of personal growth.
Still, this is an exquisite book in many ways, and one well worth reading. (Certainly more so than the other recent YA nods to The Snow Queen story, Stork and Frost.) I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as an awards contender when all is said and done, and the book will no doubt deserve it on the strength of its writing and its premise alone. I do wish, however, that this fairy tale had trusted in its own merits—and those of its valiant little heroine—a little more. It could so easily have been something more than merely a charming and well-written homage.
I like an action-packed adventure, don't you? Legend is a lot of fun to read, and follows two teens who are born into opposite sides of a war in a fut...moreI like an action-packed adventure, don't you? Legend is a lot of fun to read, and follows two teens who are born into opposite sides of a war in a futuristic Los Angeles in the Republic of America.
15-year-old June is an exceptionally gifted prodigy who is being groomed to become a military star. But when her brother is senselessly murdered, she embarks upon a mission to find his killer--and discovers that all signs point towards Day, a notorious criminal who is already wanted by the Republic.
This is a cocktail of utopian YA, Romeo and Juliet, and various wronged imprisonment stories all blended together with liberal dashes of adventure and intrigue. I liked both June and Day, and I was eager to learn more about the big mystery behind why the government is so interested in Day's brother. The best thing about Legend, however, is the terrific action sequences that the author writes into the story: there are great chases, exciting escape scenes, girl on girl sparring, and lots more.
As with so many of these books that are stretched out to accommodate sequels, there really aren't enough answers unearthed in this first installment, so presumably we'll have to wait until book two to find out the details of government's involvement in biological experimentation.
What prevents this from being a truly excellent book, however, is that the book overall feels very slight. At 300 pages, it is surprisingly short and there isn't a great deal of complexity in the characters, the world-building, or the plot. It's also extremely predictable. While the story is certainly well-written, most readers will be able to anticipate pretty much every plot development and thought that crosses the characters' minds...and really, what's the fun in that?
Still, I liked this book and I think it's among the better dystopian YA books that have been released lately. It's definitely an entertaining read and I'm interested in seeing where the story goes next. I do wish, however, that it contained more depth and more originality and more...everything, really, in order to make it a truly outstanding and truly memorable book.
Some good stuff in this one, but the characters are pretty one-dimensional and things got a little too crazy without fully committing to it. Also very...moreSome good stuff in this one, but the characters are pretty one-dimensional and things got a little too crazy without fully committing to it. Also very easy to guess all the plot twists.
3.5 stars Oh Eugenie, Eugenie, Eugenie. Throughout all four of the Dark Swan books, I feel like you could have used a good girlfriend you could call w...more3.5 stars Oh Eugenie, Eugenie, Eugenie. Throughout all four of the Dark Swan books, I feel like you could have used a good girlfriend you could call whenever you had the urge to do something silly. Unfortunately, you didn't have my number, and as much as I've enjoyed your company, I still have to fight the urge to shake some sense into you, even after all this time.
In Shadow Heir, Eugenie Markham has her twin babies but hides them away in fear of their safety. She returns to the faery world to find that a disaster has fallen on her land, and she must work together with both allies and enemies in order to save the Otherworld that she's come to love. Eugenie's story has always been a lot of fun from the very beginning, when we first learned she was a half-human, half-fae shaman for hire who learns that she's destined to be part of a prophecy that will wreak havoc upon the mortal world. I've really enjoyed her learning to harness her powers (she can control water elements!), uncovering the truth behind her past, and watching her become a more powerful, more dedicated Queen in the faery kingdom. All of the battle scenes are really fun, and if some of the plot points are a bit on the predictable side, that hasn't mattered as much to me because the characters are all nuanced and interesting, the dialogue is snappy and humorous, and the overall story lines are fast-paced and entertaining.
What's been much less enjoyable has been watching Eugenie bounce back and forth between her two love interests, the half-Japanese, half-fox shapeshifter Kiyo, and the madly flirtatious, deadly ambitious King Dorian. While both men were equally attractive in the beginning, the love triangle dragged out interminably, with pretty bad behaviors from everyone concerned. Both men have their own agendas and secrets that they keep from Eugenie, but in the last book Iron Crowned, one of them made a horribly treacherous and unforgivable move, and I went into this book absolutely gunning for blood. (view spoiler)[ Or a fur coat. :D (hide spoiler)] One really funny thing about this last installment is that pretty much everyone else in the book hates him, too! Different characters kept bringing up the idea of killing the traitor again and again, to my great satisfaction.
I did very much enjoy reading this story and I was happy that many of the threads that were left hanging in the last book were concluded--but I'm not sure I'm happy about the way they were resolved. Eugenie makes some pretty awful tactical errors, seems deliberately obtuse throughout much of the story, and in the end sets upon a course that made my blood pressure go up a few notches. There is just no reason that she shouldn't have learned by now that dishonesty and deception are never going to pay off. Her decisions at the end were illogical, poorly conceived, and completely unfair to everyone concerned. Also...(view spoiler)[I could have used a little bit more makeout time with Dorian. (hide spoiler)]
Richelle Mead's heroines are always strong, dominant women, which is part of what I like about them--but after producing three series which manage to entertain and frustrate readers in nearly equal measure, it's pretty clear to me that the biggest issue is that in trying to make her main character flawed, she so often makes the main character stupid as well. Or at least irrational and thoughtless, which is so frustrating when our heroine usually otherwise behaves with a great deal of courage and integrity and common sense. That's not to say that obstacles shouldn't be thrown in the main character's way or that she shouldn't make mistakes, since that's what keeps things interesting. But there should be solid reasons given for withholding information/not taking action/etc, etc., other than just to extend the story. We can't root for the heroine if we're suddenly rolling our eyes at her all the time.
So this is, once again, a mixed conclusion to a Richelle Mead series. I still enjoy her books quite a lot because they're so darned entertaining--but things never seem to end with my having as much respect for the heroine as I did in the beginning. It is so very disappointing when it appears that readers believe in the characters' self-worth and honor more than their author does.
**My thanks go out to the lovely Flannery for knowing how much I was dying to read this book and being kind enough to share her ARC.**