Wow. If nothing else, this book is beautifully poetic, but it is much else: dark, introspective, mystic, gritty, an un-fluffy kind of romantic. It pro...moreWow. If nothing else, this book is beautifully poetic, but it is much else: dark, introspective, mystic, gritty, an un-fluffy kind of romantic. It provided an interesting contrast to most of the heroine-fantasy I've read. It's not your average sword and sorcery epic.
Liked: ~Mythological storytelling/world building. There is a fully realized, culturally/religiously informed world view that isn't based on science, and not only is it understandable, it's practical and resonant. It makes sense as a way of thinking, even to my modern brain. It was amazing. I loved the little mythologically-based explanations of the way the world worked, and I loved that it didn't seem to take miraculous acts of divine magic to underscore the point. The 'magic' was more of a mystical experience because of this, and it gave the whole story a soulful feel. This was really my favorite part.
Appreciated: ~Stark portrayal of life for women. I can't say I liked it, because it made me mad to the point of almost giving up the book before I'd made it 1/3 of the way through, but I appreciated that the author created a story within the confines of a realistically chauvinistic society. I appreciated the fact that we're shown what kind of life an ordinary woman can expect, and what kinds of rules she might be able to break if she's extraordinary (not many, and certainly not gender rules).
Didn't like: ~The lack of a relationship between the two main characters. They only seem to interact when they're in bed, or when they're fighting. Sometimes both at once. I don't understand how they have such a strong connection (supposedly from the beginning) if this is all their relationship is. He can't possibly love her for who she is because he has no idea who she is. Nor she, him. Perhaps I missed something, because I'm not sure what he saw that he confesses to have fallen in love with, other than (I'm assuming) her amazing sex powers. Or maybe this kind of relationship is a result of the aforementioned societal confines. She is supposed to be his personal prostitute, after all, and men in this book don't really seem to be interested in women as anything else. I suppose a man brought up in that kind of culture wouldn't really care to know who his woman really was, even if he believed she was capable of being more than a sex-toy. I suppose this bothered me most of all because as a heroine, I really liked her. She is strong and determined without being reckless or fearless or magically adept at swords. She has character flaws but struggles to overcome them. I wish he knew what she was really like, because she deserves it, and because I think he'd appreciate her more for it.(less)
Cute heroic fantasy with a sweet heroine. Not much relationship drama, but a fair bit of internal debate over whether she could accomplish her destiny...moreCute heroic fantasy with a sweet heroine. Not much relationship drama, but a fair bit of internal debate over whether she could accomplish her destiny substituted for that. Actually, it was nice to read a YA-style book that was not all about romance.
Objectively, there are a fair few things that usually make this kind of story unbearable to me: a "chosen one", a "destiny", the remarkable magic that enables her to learn a new language in three days and to become the penultimate warrior in 6 weeks, a magical prophet who doesn't seem to belong to this book's plot, a whole bunch of weird perspective shifts in mid paragraph that were difficult to follow, and a rather anti-climactic climax. This reviewer explains it well.
For all that I should've hated this book, I didn't. Yes it was predicable, but it was still satisfying and blessedly free of melodrama, making it easy to enjoy (for me, at least), and so, since it made me smile at the end, I have to give this one at least 3 stars.
If you like genre UF, you'll probably like this. I don't, and I had a hard time in places.
Good things first: The premise was different. Lawyer instead...moreIf you like genre UF, you'll probably like this. I don't, and I had a hard time in places.
Good things first: The premise was different. Lawyer instead of fighter? Interesting. The heroine had some serious hurdles because she wasn't a kung-fu expert. Tackling racial divides? Great. My favorite line: "My people have been in the United States since the seventeen hundreds. I don't know what else it takes to be just an American."
Gripes: Not much outside the standard UF tropes to really get me enthused. Same half-core 'shady' underworld, same heroine who catches the eye of every male she encounters, same moment where I was left wondering if she really had a 9-5er. Maybe I'm just not an UF fan, but each of these things and other, smaller, gripes were just sandbags weighing down my balloon of suspended disbelief.
Friends? One-dimensional. Every conversation with Cam or Cole started out with "are you ok?" Never once did our heroine show the same concern for either of them. Tony? The heroine realizes very early on that she loves someone else. Why is she still stringing him along at the end? Oh, right. "He's not human!" It just feels like a set-up. Which it is, to drag out the romantic drama. Alban saying 'no' would have made a more believable road-block.
But the biggest issue I had was that despite all the fuss over the fact that she's a lawyer, I didn't really see it. And without seeing her do her job, I found it hard to get on board with her as a negotiator. She's not a hard/fast/clever talker when it counts. It seems like the real baddies all just laugh and give in because secretly they want to bang her. Is this standard for UF? Sorry, that doesn't count for brains in my opinion. If the antagonists were really as brutal as they're supposed to be, wouldn't someone have just shot her presumptuous little butt already?
At this point, the cool addition of 'Old Race' creatures just feels like a gimmick. (less)
Romance/Action-Adventure with the emphasis on romance. Can you say, "love triangle"? I'm not a fan of pure romance but thankfully there was a large po...moreRomance/Action-Adventure with the emphasis on romance. Can you say, "love triangle"? I'm not a fan of pure romance but thankfully there was a large portion of non-love-triangle plot which made the story bearable.
Good things first: The world Taylor created was well drawn and the story moved along nicely. It was engaging and intriguing and I never felt bored even though the characters rambled along for most of the book before I had any clue as to where the story was going. That didn't bother me though.
What bothered me was Eve. She seemed so human until she found out she was a robot. Then she started having some kind of identity crisis because all of a sudden she thought she had no feelings? She had them all along. I wouldn't have cared that she was ignorant but it felt contrived, and then it DRAGGED out the aforementioned triangle to EPIC proportions. And once she chooses, she's just like, "so... I know you can't hear me but, I'm out. Peace." Although maybe I should be grateful we're spared the awkwardness of that confrontation.
And then there was the writing. At first I thought it was just excessive typos. Then I thought, maybe it's supposed to be the main character's "voice"? But no, it's just bad writing.
E.g. "Then he shook West and I's hands as well" and "I extended a hand to the man who I had just broken his nose"
I'm not a grammar Nazi by any stretch of the imagination, but sentences like these really threw me off and made it harder to read, which is a huge pity - for obvious reasons.
In the end, I liked what another reviewer said: "Such a beautiful cover with such a brilliant blurb and let's face it - an aweomse potential storyline, if it had not been for the way it was massacred by the awful writing and flat characters." (Emphasis mine)(less)
Creepy, mess-with-your-head, unnerving YA - Mainly because of the concept of unwinding and the overly gentle way the author lays it all in your lap. L...moreCreepy, mess-with-your-head, unnerving YA - Mainly because of the concept of unwinding and the overly gentle way the author lays it all in your lap. Like you're the lobster that doesn't realize its sitting in the cooking pot as the water gets warmer...
It's not gory or gritty or super-violent. There's no-one to rage against, no clear antagonist with savage intentions to get angry at, or thwart, no feeling of triumph or closure at the end. That's what made it unnerving to me.
The characters are real and the emotions linger. It's scary in a subtle way that does't get campy with cheap tricks. For that reason, it really is a good book, though I wish I hadn't read it! (less)
I really appreciated that romance was not the answer to all the MC's problems, but there were definitely moments t...moreAgree completely with this reviewer.
I really appreciated that romance was not the answer to all the MC's problems, but there were definitely moments that sounded like movie-lines, or worse, just bland. I really wanted to like Tayse but even though most of the narrative is written from his POV, I never really felt like I knew him. The romance sub-plot suffered because of this, I think.
Overall, this was in the middle for me. Not D&M, but not lighthearted either. Not bad, but not fantastic.(less)
What to say about this book that hasn't already been said. If you like Gaiman, you'll like this one. Its engaging, mysterious, subtle, the characters...moreWhat to say about this book that hasn't already been said. If you like Gaiman, you'll like this one. Its engaging, mysterious, subtle, the characters have depth although we never learn as much about some of them as I'd like. And the world building is great. The story has a complexity that kept my eyes glued to the pages throughout. Cheers for the underground labyrinth/minotaur (love mythological references) and the climax/resolution I didn't see coming.
The only thing I didn't like was the ending - at the very end. A little cliche but appropriate I guess, given how much the main character has grown by then.(less)
**spoiler alert** I appreciate it when the author has the balls to kill off some of the important characters. It raises the stakes and my suspicions a...more**spoiler alert** I appreciate it when the author has the balls to kill off some of the important characters. It raises the stakes and my suspicions about the MC living through the end. Much more interesting this way. Although I wish we'd been present for the funeral. Might've made a nice counterpoint to the deliberately blithe humor Atticus presents throughout the rest of the book.(less)
Fun fun fun! Continuing in the adorable, laugh-out-loud, action and excitement thread. Began to like Atticus more in this one, but dude, like, when ar...moreFun fun fun! Continuing in the adorable, laugh-out-loud, action and excitement thread. Began to like Atticus more in this one, but dude, like, when are you gonna hook up with Granuaile?(less)
Light reading that's cute and funny, with an adorable dog companion, and a sh*t-ton of lines quoted from an eclectic assortment of people (Shakespeare...moreLight reading that's cute and funny, with an adorable dog companion, and a sh*t-ton of lines quoted from an eclectic assortment of people (Shakespeare, Revelations, Eric Cartman!). He even managed to use "pwned" - (gamer, much?). Not exciting in the dire-threat-to-mankind kind of way, and the element of suspense wasn't there for me, but I was still laughing in spite of myself all the way through. Easy fun.(less)
Fast-paced and action oriented. Lots of twists and turns, surprises, bad guys who aren't evil. In fact, the standard good vs. evil of fantasy trope ba...moreFast-paced and action oriented. Lots of twists and turns, surprises, bad guys who aren't evil. In fact, the standard good vs. evil of fantasy trope barely even factored into the plot - an unexpected relief. As the title suggests, lots of heroes die. Philosophical in places with some interesting social commentary on the entertainment business and capitalism in general. Nods to classical myth and Joseph Campbell's hero. Gritty and violent at times, plain gross at others - what is with this unnatural penchant for sh*t? Despite this the story is driven by love (in many of its incarnations) and the striving of our hero to reconcile his real self with his pretended self in his quest to earn back his ex-wife. Not chick-flick romantic though - another bonus.
This should have been my kind of thing: angels of death, demons, supernatural sorcery, cute pets, and a romance that wasn't (entirely) a dominating fe...moreThis should have been my kind of thing: angels of death, demons, supernatural sorcery, cute pets, and a romance that wasn't (entirely) a dominating feature. I appreciated these things, but there were too many eye-rolling moments which distracted me: primarily the fact that every guy was a knee-collapsing model of hotness and they were all inexplicably attracted to the protagonist. It happens way too often in urban fantasy, imho. Also, the story moved too quickly for me. A lot happens in a short few days with no time to really think about any of it.(less)
Fantastic first novel. Definitely not the flippant or fluffy type of YA (although still a girly kind of book). This one has dark undertones and seriou...moreFantastic first novel. Definitely not the flippant or fluffy type of YA (although still a girly kind of book). This one has dark undertones and serious stakes that pulled me in. Loved the fact that the heroine is trying to rescue her family. Love the fact that their conditions make it so much harder for her to do that. (The more tortures the author can heap on the protagonist's shoulders, the better, imo.) I wasn't at all sure where the plot was going until near the end (another thumbs up) and even then it took a turn in a direction I wasn't expecting.
Minus 1 star because of a few little things that annoyed me: two scenes in particular that screamed "naked public speaking nightmare" kind of corny and elicited an eye-rolling moment. And also Raffe's nickname. Seriously, he's a million-yr-old ass-kicking warrior angel, and his nickname is 'raf-fie'? Like, a dog? Or something. He deserved a more manly name I think.
Definitely going to read the next one when it comes out.(less)
Cute, YA romance. Reads like its on the Y end of YA although the anti-marriage theme might require a more mature understanding.
Interesting role rever...moreCute, YA romance. Reads like its on the Y end of YA although the anti-marriage theme might require a more mature understanding.
Interesting role reversal with the angry protagonist being a woman and the humanizer/tamer being a man. It was nice to see her grow by the end of the story, although it felt a bit too easy for my taste since she didn't seem to struggle much to overcome her anger. (less)
An interesting twist on the urban fantasy tropes. With flawed and struggling characters, a dystopian (but not evil?) church-state, and an awesome Down...moreAn interesting twist on the urban fantasy tropes. With flawed and struggling characters, a dystopian (but not evil?) church-state, and an awesome Downside dialect that isnt too hard to pick up, this series would be worth a look even if it didnt pack a punch with lots of action and a bit of romance on the side. Good pacing and a nice story arc. Characters that are uneducated but not stupid. Spirits that can never find closure because they are dead. (No such thing as 'putting them to rest' or bringing them peace by finishing their unfinished business). Nope, the ghosties are bad and stay bad, so they must be banished. *rolls eyes*. But this book/series has so many other cool things going for it that I can overlook the whole witchy ghostbusters thing.
Some might be adverse to the portrayal of drug addiction and/or the depiction of the 'Church' as decidedly athiest.(less)