This was my blog's July book of the month, so a chat discussion between me and three other reviewers will be posted on my blog in about a week. Spoiler: it appeared that none of us particularly enjoyed it.
I've been going back and forth about whether to write my own review on this, separate from what I said in our soon-to-be-posted discussion. In the end, I've decided to do a sort of mini-review.
There were some great things and some not so great things about this book. Let's start with the great things, because I'm feeling generous. There is some pretty complex world-building here. The various regions of the world have created different alliances and cultures than we have in reality. Most of the story takes place in the RUNA, which appears to be North America or thereabouts. The RUNA is big on their high-tech. Some of the citizens who come from smaller, purer gene pools suffer from a genetic disease. The lower classes have to follow breeding guidelines, which help them to avoid this disease. And since the story starts outside of the RUNA, there is plenty of opportunity to contrast RUNA culture with elsewhere culture. Mead created a brand new world here, and I appreciate that.
Another plus is that there's a sex scene pretty early in the book. :)
Now the negatives: The world-building, as extensive as it was, was also disorganized. Lots of terms were made up (as expected), and in some cases, multiple terms were used to refer to same things. Given that there was a lot about the world that needed to be presented, it would have been nice if there had been some effort to stick to common terms throughout. Perhaps some of the made-up terms could have been more clearly based on well-known words, or the duplicate-meaning terms could have been nixed. Also, for most of the story, I wondered: What's the point of all these details?
In the end, most of the details came together, and they were pretty much all relevant to the conclusion. But if I spend 75% of a story thinking "So what?" I think that's an issue.
There were three POV characters: the hero, the heroine, and some random kid. I kept waiting for the kid's POV to be relevant. It never was, as far as I could tell.
Now I have things to say about the romance. Okay, I have only one thing to say: lukewarm. I just didn't feel the heat. All the frustration I was supposed to feel that these two people couldn't stop upsetting each other--I felt that. But there wasn't any heat in their arguments. There wasn't any of that I-hate-you-but-I-totally-wanna-do-you tension. There were just two people who believed they were attracted to each other but couldn't be honest about it.
Okay, so this didn't turn out to be a mini-review after all....more
Four stars may be a tad bit generous for this one. I definitely give it more than three stars. And I liked it significantly more than I liked Magic BiFour stars may be a tad bit generous for this one. I definitely give it more than three stars. And I liked it significantly more than I liked Magic Bites, so I think that four stars reflects my feelings about this book more than three stars would.
I was bored with the first 30% or so of this book. I suspect that the authorship team believes that action scenes create interest. In my opinion, variety creates interest more than back-to-back-to-back action scenes. The first 30% of the book was all action, and I was bored. Then, the book slowed down a bit, and I got to meet the characters, and the issues facing the characters came into focus. Only then did I begin to care what happened to the characters.
Kate had more personality in Magic Burns than she did in Magic Bites. At times, her internal and external dialogues were witty. Amusingly, she displayed some familiarity with pop culture. She made jokes about Rambo and other pop culture references that were lost on other characters, which I found to be quite funny. In the first book, I failed to connect with Kate, in part because the authors went out of their way to make Kate super-duper mysterious. I cannot connect to a character whom I don't know. Although Kate's origins remained a mystery in Magic Burns, I was able to get to know her personality through her dialogue and through some tough decisions that she made. I liked her much better in this book.
On a side note: I was disappointed with an inconsistency that I identified. At some point, Kate removes all of her weapons in order to perform a bit of magic. Before she is reunited with her weapons, there is a reference about her sword smoking (which it generally does when Kate is pissed off). Wrong! Her sword is nowhere on the premises. This showed negligence on the authors' and editors' parts, but it did not impact the story at all, as Kate made no attempt to use the sword while it was somewhere else....more