Annie's Reviews > The Emerald Talisman

The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos
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Jun 10, 11

Read from June 09 to 10, 2011

Terrible. It's trailing on the end of the vampire trend and introduces nothing new. The story is stale and uninteresting, superficial and slow. Basically, the author took the characters from Twilight (plain chick + vampirey stalker guy who saves her life) and stuck them in a generic vampire hunter romance. All of this is not helped by the mediocre writing, where the author uses childish dialogue such as "'You're mine now and I'm gonna do whatever I want with you, and he can't do anything about it!' he cackled." Oh, and dear author: it's okay to use a few naughty words sometimes. These aren't little kids. Generally speaking, a sixteen year old in a life-or-death situation is going to use something a little stronger than "darn!"

Now, on to details as to why this sucked so much!

For one thing, the characters are seriously lacking in depth and originality. Julia Parker might as well be Bella Swan for all anyone cares: neither of them have any personality, both of them are stalked by their "boyfriends" who save their lives multiple times, neither are strong heroines, both are described as perfectly normal and yet they manage to have boys drooling all over them. Shut up.
Plus, after she meets this totally cool guy who saves her life, Julia goes and blabs to everyone in high school, and becomes instantly popular. Everyone wants to talk to her. No, Brenda Pandos. That's not how it works. If people want to hear a story (which in this case, no one would care in real life) they tend to go to the gossip mill instead. Maybe the author was just sadly in the "out" crowd as a youth and is expressing her deep-seated desire to be "popular" with a bunch of high school kids.
Not to mention, Julia is disgustingly wimpy. She's afraid of everything, including empty woods at night. Empty woods near her house. And her sprained ankle? Oh baby, she milks that minor injury like a squirt-happy heifer.

Speaking of Julia's fear in the woods, the forest is supposed to evoke some sort of suspenseful, frightening response even before the character feels any real heebie-jeebies. So while Pandos is busy writing about how terrifying the woods are, the reader is sitting there thinking, "why is this supposed to be scary? is the main character ten?" This pattern continues throughout the book, like when Julia "fights" with her friends and family. No real drama, no reason for anyone to be worked up and yet we're supposed to feel like we're watching a goddamn tragedy.

Now for the romance, which is supposed to be the driving force of the novel. I love romance in my books, as long as it's done well. This wasn't. It was a typical Twilight-esque romance: Girl is in danger, boy saves girl, boy is gorgeous, girl has no redeeming qualities, boy stalks girl, boy and girl fall in love within half an hour. There, you don't even need to read the book.
But, really. Come on. If you meet a guy for maybe half an hour, you're not in love. Stop bitching about how much you miss him and how your "heart feels ripped to shreds" and how your whole life is "torn like [your] heart." < -- actual quotes, corniness and all. You don't need multiple mother effing heart-to-hearts with ten different people before you "move on and say goodbye." Good lord. Nor should you continue to cling to someone who is downright RUDE to you. Girls, let that be a lesson to you: if Mr Cutie is an asshole to you, dump him in the dirt and move on to someone else right then and there. Don't waste time moping about Mr Cute (who you don't even know!) not being Mr Right. That is flat out a waste of time.

Now finally, one more thing. Julia can apparently sense how people are feeling, like a watered-down Sookie Stackhouse from Dead to the World and so on. This adds absolutely nothing to the story, and in fact just detracts from it. Why? Because the author half-assedly decided to throw in a random character trait to... I don't know, make it more paranormal? Because vampires just weren't supernatural enough. Oh, there's a random werecat dispensing sage advice- think Solembum from Eragon, because Pandos wanted to make the book even more generic.
Now, let's stack this against The Fantasy Novelist's Exam by Rinkworks to see how bad this really is. For those of you who don't know, The Fantasy Novelist's Exam is described as a guide to prevent awful novels from being written. From its page:
Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this "great, original fantasy" is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we're sick of it, so we've compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once.

7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about "The One" who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good? Yes
8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information? Yes
14. How about "a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons"? Yes
16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued? Yes.
21. How about "a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage"? Yes, if you replace 'elf' with 'vampire.'
Sad. Just sad. I wish it was easier to return kindle content, because I want my 99 cents back.
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