It’s not very often that I read a book labeled as YA. I dislike the drama and love triangles that seem to be a requirement of them. But a G...more*3.5 Stars*
It’s not very often that I read a book labeled as YA. I dislike the drama and love triangles that seem to be a requirement of them. But a Goodreads friend of mine read this book and loved it so much that I became intrigued. I snatched it up when it was offered for review, after she swore up and down that I wouldn’t find any of the high school drama that makes me want to claw my eyes out. (FYI, she was right.)
I’m really starting to wonder if I just don’t like reading YA’s with girls as the main characters. It didn’t seem to bother me when I was younger and reading about girls in Christopher Pike’s books, but it does now. However, the few I’ve read with a boy as the main character didn’t have the drama that irritates me so much. Maybe I just need to stick to boy protagonists if I’m in the mood for YA?
I thought this book had a really fun premise. The author has taken a lot of the classic figures, like Van Helsing, Dracula, Mina Harker, and Frankenstein, and woven a new story around them. When I first realized that the author had borrowed characters I wasn’t quite sure how I felt. Especially about Frankenstein! (I don’t why, but he was kind of overkill for me.) But I eventually adjusted to it and even came to appreciate the fact this might be a gateway book for younger readers to seek out the original stories if they were curious enough. It’s a fun way to get them interested in the characters.
I liked that Jamie seemed like a teenage boy. Sometimes I felt he came off a little younger than his age, but it didn’t bother me much because I know teenagers can mature differently. He was occasionally sulky and moody, and it took a while for him to realize that fighting vampires wasn’t a game.
"I got hurt today. Not as badly as you, I know, but I got burned. And it made me realize something, you know? It made me realize that this isn't a game, or a film, where the good guys win in the end and the bad guys get what's coming to them. It's real life, and it's messy, and it's complicated, and I'm scared, and I just don't know what to—“
I liked that he made mistakes—although it was a little odd that he was so good at fighting after only a couple days of training. He has real fears and strives to ignore them while he rescues his mother. I think that he’ll be easy for a lot of younger teenage boys to relate to.
I felt bad that Jamie was thrust into a world where he already had a bad name for himself. It was through no fault of his own, it was because of his family’s history with the department. I liked that he wasn’t easily accepted because it made him question and argue in ways that I don’t think he would have otherwise. I was glad he wouldn’t easily shut up and do what he was told, because at times I almost thought some of the “good” guys were worse than the vampires.
The gore and violence shown were a big surprise to me. I knew that there would be fights, but I didn’t expect them to be shown with such detail and relish. Good guys and bad guys alike were killed and the fight scenes were bloody. The vampires were not cute and cuddly creatures. They were just like humans in the sense that they all made personal decisions about their behavior and how they lived, but they all housed a barely controlled hunger deep inside. The bad vampires were genuinely bad. They killed and caused pain, and they did it just for fun. Even the vampire Larissa, who is more than meets the eye, is shown to possess a rather callous disregard for life.
I don’t bring up the violence as a complaint. I actually enjoyed that feature a lot. I just wanted to give a head’s up to anyone who doesn’t enjoy books like that. I also, personally, wouldn’t have a problem letting a Tween or young Teen boy or girl read this. I think they’d like the gore. But you may feel differently, so be aware of the violence level in this book!
While I did like a lot of things about this story—especially Larissa—I tend to look for different things in most of the books I read. I prefer a lot more depth to the characters. Here, the characters felt almost like you were watching them in a movie. You never really got into their head, but you enjoyed watching them kick some vampire butt. I feel more forgiving in this than I would in an adult book because most kids aren’t looking for complex layers and hidden depths. I remember the YA books I read when I was younger and they were written the same way. So I can’t criticize the author for writing to his audience, but I can’t exactly say it rocked my world either.
Also, I didn’t enjoy the flashbacks. I understood (and appreciated) their purpose, but I think there had to have been a smoother way to accomplish it. At times the flashbacks slowed the momentum of the story to a crawl and made it feel clunky. I had absolutely no investment in the people that we saw in the flashbacks so it was hard to care while reading about them.
I think this will be a big hit with a lot of young male readers, but I also think it’s interesting enough that it will grab a wider readership than that. If you’re intrigued and glad to hear about genuinely vicious vampires then I recommend you pick this book up and give it a shot.
"Why did you spare me?" he asked.
She smiled again. "I didn't feel like killing you," she replied.
"That's not really sparing me, is it? That's just not feeling like it."
Please bear with me as I ramble my way through this review.
As I was reading this book I had a discussion about my reaction to it with one of my friend...morePlease bear with me as I ramble my way through this review.
As I was reading this book I had a discussion about my reaction to it with one of my friends on Goodreads. I wasn’t very into the book and found myself disappointed because I had unconsciously expected something different. I am a huge fan of the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. I discovered the series at the same time I discovered the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. That was years ago, way before I had read any other Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance book.
I read the summary of this book and saw that it had a male main character written by a male author. I’ve recently begun trying to find more of these that interest me because I love the way Harry Dresden comes off. He seems like an actual guy, not just a guy seen through a girl’s filter. (So if you have rec’s for this type—pass them on in the comments!) So I snapped this book up because I had been contemplating buying the first book in the series for a while. I figured there was no time like the present to test the waters, and I’ve been trying to break my OCD need to read series in order with no exceptions.
Anyway, back on track. While I was expressing my disappointment my friend clarified something for me. Sometimes your first experiences with a particular type or genre will mold your expectations. Even if you don’t see a direct correlation between the books you expect something similar. I guess I saw the male lead paired with him being a magic user and assumed it would be in the vein of the Dresden series even though I didn’t mean to. I expected depth and intensity and growth and struggle and lots of magic. I don’t feel I got that here and I was unreasonably let down because of it.
I can’t say this is a bad book, because it’s not. But it wasn’t a good one for me either. At the most it was meh. It took me a couple days to get through because I found the style kind of monotone. There were no real highs and lows for me to sink into. Even when the big confrontation came at the end it felt matter of fact instead of intense. I just kept waiting for something to draw me into the action and it never happened.
I found the idea of some of the magic interesting. One of the characters has the talent to create a singularity.
”one of those odd constructs that mirror the real world, but aren't entirely real themselves"
I thought that was a pretty neat idea, especially when we got further insight into it and other areas like it that can be accessed.
”Almost like a wiki,” said Jackie. “It’s already in place, but anyone can make changes to it, and sometimes those changes can be extensive.”
The secondary characters didn’t have much dimension and I honestly didn’t sense much of a connection between them and Mason (other than the fact that they pow-wowed frequently). Possibly that connection would have been stronger if I had started at book one. I think that might be the only thing that would prevent someone from reading this series out of order. Other than that I felt it was pretty standalone.
I think I might have liked this book a bit more despite the unexciting events if I had liked Mason more. I didn’t dislike him, but it was just another case of being sort of meh about it. I found his character pretty boring and occasionally irritating. He had nothing that really drew me in. (This could be different with a music lover because there are details of that in here that may draw some of you in.) I also found his method of investigating haphazard, bordering on ridiculous. He’d just walk into situations (or even search them out) knowing he had no plan or information to give him a slight advantage. It’s just frustrating because something bad always happened. He was also waaay friendlier than I would expect with people who had screwed with him in the past. I just couldn’t respect him much.
While I can’t recommend this book I can’t not recommend it either. The most I can say is that it just wasn’t my style. I think if you like your books a little slower paced with less action then you may enjoy this more than me.
For a while it seemed like every time I turned around I was getting another recommendation to try this series. I finally broke down and ordered Nightl...moreFor a while it seemed like every time I turned around I was getting another recommendation to try this series. I finally broke down and ordered Nightlife and I'm glad I did. The closest comparison I can come up with for this book is to the Harry Dresden series. The world is completely different and so are the characters but there's something similar there. Maybe it's the humor. Cal and Harry both have a sarcastic, self-deprecating wit. They both have a quality that makes you root for them and enjoy the time you spend in their head.
I really liked the world the author created. I was really surprised at the creature the Grendels turned out to be. I can't remember another time that I've seen the race portrayed like that. It was interesting though. I felt bad for Niko and Cal being stuck with that kind of mom.
The book is written in first person so if you find Cal's humor irritating I'm afraid none of the book will work for you. At times his inner commentary was irritating, but overall I liked him as a narrator. One thing that I wasn't really expecting was his young age. At times I just wanted to shake him and tell him to grow up. His brother Niko was a little too perfect for me to enjoy. He was too everything. Not only did he sacrifice whatever life he wanted for his brother, he never had any moments of resentment or anger about it. He was also human but almost indestructible. He seemed better at everything than anyone else. It was kind of irritating.
Toward the end of the book the reader will experience a narrator change. It was really disorientating for me. I had to reread and figure out what happened. I didn't really enjoy reading from this narrator's viewpoint very much. I found him irritating and it seemed like his experience went on forever. I also was confused about one point. Cal remembers everything that happened to him at the end, but I'm curious if he retained all the other memories from Darkling too. If he did wouldn't that mean he remembers everything that happened to him during his missing two years?
I'm definitely interested in reading more of this series. Hopefully Cal grows up a bit. I'm curious to read more about Georgina and Robin and Promise. Did anyone else think that it was odd that no one remarked how different Promise's name was? I think that I'm most looking forward learning more about Robin. He's my favorite character so far. (less)
While reading this series I have seen Harry face a lot. With each book he becomes a little more beaten down, and a little harder. Through it all he's...moreWhile reading this series I have seen Harry face a lot. With each book he becomes a little more beaten down, and a little harder. Through it all he's maintained his moral code. He's very firm about how far he is willing to go and what lines he can never cross.
Sometimes, an event will happen that is so viscerally important that you will be willing to do anything to fix it. Nothing matters, not yourself, not the future. Nothing except the person at the center of that event. This book is Harry's crucible. He will run the gauntlet and find out how far he is really willing to go.
This book is...epic for Harry. Everything he knows and depends on for stability seems to crumble around him. The author pulled no punches in this one. The things we have identified with Harry and looked at as part of his identity for this whole series are ruthlessly stripped from him. The author seems to leave Harry naked, with only his wits and a few friends willing to stand by him when it's important to him.
Always before, Harry gets into tough situations for someone else. He may get in a little too deep by himself, but the original situations are usually not of his making. He is always willing to help the underdog out. If it's important, even if he really doesn't like you, he'll be there. That's just the kind of guy he is. In this book it is finally a situation that Harry needs help with for himself. He's asking personal favors because this situation is personal.
As Harry searches for allies, we notice a definite split in the group of people he associates with. This is the book that shows who his real friends are. When your so-called friends turn their back on you, you only have so many options. Harry needs people on his side for this. It will be the biggest, most important fight of his life to date. If he can't find allies through his associates, he'll find them somewhere, one way or another.
It's really hard for me to talk about the sheer awesomeness of this book without giving away spoilers. While reading I was shocked. I never expected the author to do something like this. It's not just the obvious lines that Harry crosses that were so surprising. It was just the whole situation. As I saw person after person refuse to help him I got so pissed off! The people who stuck by him didn't surprise me, they'll die for Harry. It was all the others that made me so mad. They're supposed to be a unit! They're supposed to be there for each other! I hope that bridge is burned.
Even after being finished with the book for a while now, it's still so hard to imagine what's going to come next for Harry. A lot have things changed in this book and he's going to have to deal with the fall out in the next book.
By the way, Murphy really impressed me in this book. She's always been there for Harry, but she really steps up her game here. I was so glad she was there for Harry to lean on when he started to crack. I can't believe that her whole identity is a hairsbreadth from being taken too. So many changes for so many people.
One last point! I'm so impressed that Harry has finally decided that even if the situation is horrifically dangerous he won't hold back someone who wants to help him. He's grown enough to know that they're all adults and he can't shelter them all the time. He has to take help wherever he can find it. Kudos Harry!
I'm so anxious for the next book! That was a horrible cliffhanger at the end! What happened??? I need to know! (less)