White Winter picks up 5 days after Black Fall ended. Now a probationary enforcer with the Agency, Jonas can finally take time to process what happened to him and get back to being a regular teenager.
Just kidding. It's the end of the world and Jonas is in the driver's seat. More rogues, more bullets, more explosions, and more dog jokes. Gunplay and swordplay. A grudge-match 4000 years in the making. Follow Jonas, Kieran, Eve, and the rest of the team as they put down a supernatural insurgency and pave the way to the Balance in ash, blood, and bone.
D.J. Bodden is a tech-startup COO who writes books because words are magic. He's an avid reader of science-fiction and fantasy, a gamer, a former pilot and coffee trader who's been to every continent but Antarctica. He's been woken up by gunfire, jumped out of helicopters, and climbed medium-sized hills in scorching weather; He likes to make people laugh for the wrong reasons; He tries to sell people grimoires disguised as fiction; He is scared of spiders, and only recently learned to ride a bike.
D.J. lives in Switzerland with his wife and thinks it's important that they should someday be adopted by a fox.
D.J. Bodden comes out with literary guns blazing in this sequel to his first novel, Black Fall. You just have to love the title, White Winter. Jonas Black is back (all words and blood flow in the Black Fall series) along with a host of other memorable characters including the Winter Werewolf himself and my favorite character Kieran, Jonas’ mom the formidable Black Alice, Damien, Eve, Viviane, the Spector, Madoc, Amelia, Jonas’ inside man, Sam (you have to read it), Frank, Billy, Jim, and Thompson.
The point is there are a lot of characters, a lot of story, and a lot going on in general … all good. The smartest supernatural tale on the planet is back in full effect. This is a high-octane story, and the action is off the charts, especially in the chapter 32 when things come to a fever pitch. Picture 40,000 werewolves and you’re getting in the ballpark of the mayhem Bodden has created here. Through all the death and destruction a type of humanity shines through as Alice tells her son and our protagonist, Jonas before the final battle, “Just don’t get killed, and don’t destroy the world for the sake of a city.
There are prophecies. There is suspense. There is blood and gore, and there are rules as Jonas points out to Kieren, “Werewolves don’t hold grudges.” Of course Kieren replies, “But a winter wolf never forgets” blurring the lines once again. This is not your wimpy Twilight but a tale filled with formidable vampires, vicious immortal werewolves, and other supernaturals that bring the genre to a new level. Read Black Fall first then stay focused when you read White Winter so you’ll be prepared for Red Spring, which I here is on the horizon.
The MC: The primary main character is Jonas Black, a sixteen-year-old who is anything but typical. He’s near vampire royalty, though he’s also something much more: part-daywalker, part sorcerer, full on badass. Even if he is still a kid. In Black Fall, Jonas—who thought he was human for most of his life—uncovers the existence of the supernatural community and struggles to find his place within its ranks. In White Winter, Jonas is still navigating ever new waters, but he’s much more competent and able, and he also has some cool new powers that are fun to watch him grow into.
Typically, I don’t read or like most YA, but despite Jonas’ age and relative inexperience, I like the kid. He’s not whiny or entitled (both of which I hate in YA), and a broad cast of characters that feature some salty former military personal, balance out the YA feel nicely. As with Black Fall, White Winter has a full cast of secondary characters—Eve, Jonas’ girlfriend, for example—but, for the most part, they feel fleshed out and not extraneous, which is a hard trick to pull off.
The World: The world building was great. Though you do see most of the same standard urban-fantasy creatures—vampires, werewolves, demons, and a spattering of others—they are all uniquely different from other types you’ve seen out there. The supernaturals work for, and are policed by, the Agency: a shadowy, covert organization that has a compact with the highest levels of human government—doing unpleasant black ops and, in return, being left mostly alone. There are also human hunters, folks who have stumble across the supernatural and actively seek to protect humanity at large.
The Story and Writing: As with Black Fall, this is where White Winter really shines. First, Bodden is a great writer—his use of language is clear and concise, never getting bogged down by over-writing, purple-prose, or overly-pretentious literary style. The man’s got a story to tell, knows what he wants to say, and doesn’t beat around the bush. I envy that in his writing. The story itself is also intriguing and fast paced, mixing in dashes of humor and hints of deep emotion. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with White Winter—it’s a solid follow-up to a great debut and I look forward to seeing where the series is headed.
The Rating: Four and a half stars. A strong follow up that offers something quite different to a stale and often annoying YA market place.
Smooth writing and the continuation of crazy plot and awesome side-characters sucked me in *hard*. (I mean, who could not ship Jim & Vivian?? They are the perfect crazy couple!) (That's as in literally crazy...) I read with baited breath to see if Jonas would lose his mind and join the ranks of the insane vampires sleeping in the Agency morgue, or to see if New York would implode completely in a shower of anger-fueled blood and gore.
DJ Bodden's new style of showing us the plot via Jonas' stream of consciousness was an awesome way of transmitting just how confused and f*ed up things were for his character(s). Only ever seeing things from inside Jonas' head was a great way enforce the insanity of too many players grasping for power, and just how little control anyone actually had over any given situation.
While White Winter once again shows us a staving off of great disaster only by a hairsbreadth of luck, it also delves more fully into the background of Winter Wolves, the creation of Vampires, and lets us see Black Alice in action for the first time. Complete with excellent action scenes and quippy one liners like, "Did I scare the daylights out of you?", (vampire sarcasm really bites), the whole book is fast paced start-to-finish and makes for a fantastic real-world distraction.
I highly recommend this book, and am very excited to see where the next installment takes us!
Jonas Black's world is increasingly complicated. In White Winter, the sequel to Black Fall, the web of relationships entangling our hero -- both personal and professional/political -- grow more complex. Though the energy and detailed world-building remains, some of the innocence from the first book has faded some, replaced by a more sophisticated kind of intrigue. Likewise, the choices Jonas makes seem more open-ended and seem to carry more weight.
Maturity for Jonas doesn't just mean a more political existence, though. It's also more elaborate metaphysically. Visions and blackouts provide additional threats and interruptions to his already convoluted life, and they add another dimension to the story.
But all of the fun elements from Black Fall are back as well. There's a ton of story packed in these 320 pages. In fact, I'd say the novel is pretty relentless. It rockets from episode to episode, all of them packed with some blend of drama and action. There aren't a lot of slow moments or slow anything to be found here. It felt like the action and excitement were only ratcheted up from the first book.
I think it's pretty easy to tell when an author really loves their characters and is having a good time writing a book. Those signs were written all over White Winter. I can't wait to see where the series goes next.
Specifically, every time I pick up one of his books, when I put it down I discover the whole dang day has zipped past me in a trance! And like an addict, I find myself wanting more!
Yes, he's just THAT absorbing!
In the spirit of full disclosure, I narrate audiobooks. I picked up one of his short stories 'Deus Ex Rand' when it was a free to read, zipped through it in short order and realized that I HAD to record it. I reached out, and after a short conversation he graciously allowed me the privilege. (You can find the audio-book here: http://penztv.com/deusexrand.html )
My only complaint is, he needs to write FASTER! The teaser chapter from Red Spring (at the end of White Winter) promises more Bodden goodness, but it can't come soon enough!
WOAW I liked blackfall but i like this even better. It is packed with action with humour and some emotion. I especially loved the part with the Temperance town. In addition to the characters from the previous book, it had some new magical characters. In the previous book some characters discussed how badass Alice Black was buy we actually got to see it here. It was awesome. Jim and Viviane are so crazy and cute.
I was really expecting something about Victor Black though (maybe in Red Spring I guess). Doris and Madoc are such different characters and they have this mystery about them, which is so cool but i really want to know their stories.
You have to pay close attention to these books or you seriously get lost.
I asked for and received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
White Winter (The Black Year Series Book 2) by D.J. Bodden Courtesy of author
In Black Fall, Book 1 of D. J. Bodden’s The Black Year Series, I was introduced to Jonas Black, a 16 year old whose life missed the turn at Albuquerque and ended up in a nameless circle of Hell. Jonas’s life unraveled when his father died and he discovered some very startling truths about the world and his place in it. I was introduced to vampires, werewolves, a zombie (or not) plus Jonas’s freaked out human girlfriend. Some of the individuals, no matter what species, were cool and some were just terrifying on the “I will eat your soul” scale.
When Book 1, Black Fall, ends Jonas is trying to cope with what the last few months of his life have dumped on him. It is a lot, much more than typical teen angst. White Winter, Book 2, picks up shortly after the end of Black Fall. Jonas is trying to settle into his new reality with it’s perks and drawbacks. He has a vision of a world in ashes that seems to point it’s skeletal finger at him as the cause. Who does he tell? Who does he trust enough to tell? As Jonas tries to make this decision, he and Kieran, his best friend, get sent on a road trip for Agency business. Nothing about the trip goes well and proves that their is a conspiracy to destroy Jonas, his mother, his friends and the Agency. Does Jonas try to stop them or will that fulfill the prophecy? If he doesn’t try to stop them, will that fulfill the prophecy? What is a sixteen year old boy supposed to do when he doesn’t know where to step or what to stay to avoid bringing about the events of his vision?
White Winter had as much action as Black Fall. There is great character development in the characters like Jonas, Eve, Alice and Kieran from the first book. There are new characters who range from “can you trust them” to “damn that’s freaky”. The pacing was steady and at times frantic. The battle/fight scenes are well written. They made sense and not, being anything of a military historian myself, the tactics seem realistic.
In my review of Black fall I said I would have no problems recommending it to anyone over eighteen and probably any mature high schoolers. I did read White Winter with my “mother” senses engaged and I feel that it would be fine for a mature teen just due to the violence. Parents should always read books first before they hand them over and know your child’s ability to separate fact from fiction. I would have had no problem handing Black Fall or White Winter to my son when he was eleven (and had already read The Lord of the Rings and everything Brian Jacques had written to that point).
I am eager to start the last book in the trilogy, Red Spring. Black Fall and White Winter do end with cliffhangers but also complete their particular story arc. I really appreciate authors who make sure they do complete the arc within the book. It gives it a satisfying ending but gives you a craving for the next course. I would highly recommend getting your hands on Black Fall and White Winter. I will review Red Spring as soon as I finish it. Not to belabor a point but this series would be fantastic as an audiobook with the right narrator.
I definitely need to reread this one. I absolutely love how incredibly detailed the battle scenes are. They're incredibly well written. Sometimes the military lingo was beyond me, but I felt with context, it was enough to understand.
I hate that Jonas is going through hard, terrible times, but I also appreciate it. Again, Bodden nails the writing for the internal dialogue of both Jonas and Eve. They're both believable as separate characters. Nothing worse than an internal monologue that sounds the same as every other character!
Well done, Dj!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
There’s a lot going on in this story – and that makes it action-packed.
Jonas is getting the hang of not only being a vampire, but also being a vampire capable of controlling magic. He’s the “clan leader” of Kieran’s clan, and Kieran is bound by oath to do literally whatever Jonas wants. He and Eve are getting closer, especially mentally as they share their individual missions through telepathic imagery. There’s a new trainer named Damien who’s trying to get Jonas to learn magic, swordplay, and new fighting skills. He and his mother are still searching for his lost father while also dealing with Fangston. Jonas’s brain and “barrier” might be turning against him due to an accidental spirit that’s tagged along in his head named Phillip (who is Kieran’s father and the one that had to die). There’s a bad prophecy involving a lot of death that a priest delivers, a prophecy that Jonas apparently fulfills. The agency Jonas works for is trying to bring the balance up between good and evil, while simultaneously slowly bringing the existence of supernatural creatures and magic into the open – an idea that fails when a lot of bad things happen and the city of New York is destroyed. All kinds of werewolves are running rampant through the city, turning or killing anyone in their path. And the Cull, led by an ancient Sorcerer, brings Winter Wolves and a plot to destroy the world into Jonas’s already full plate. Not to mention Amelia gets turned into a werewolf and really, really hates Jonas.
I know I just rambled a lot… but that’s my point. As much as I enjoy the adventures of Jonas and his sometimes-friends, sometimes-enemies, it’s too much. Right there is ELEVEN different plotlines that all occur in one book. And I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a couple. Not because they’re not important…but because there’s so much going on that you forget half the things that are going on. And although all those things give the book a really action-packed feel to it, it has to jump around a lot in order to get everything worked out. That’s where it gets confusing.
A lot of times… I didn’t know what was even going on. I honest-to-goodness could not follow the story very well. And there would be times when I’d have to put the story away because I was going to bed or headed to work, where I’d come back to it the next day and I’d have to read the whole chapter over because I still was lost on what was happening.
My advice to the author? You have a great thing going here. But make sure readers know what the MAIN PLOT is here. You can have your subplots. But make sure those don’t overwhelm the main plot so that said main plot gets lost in translation.
Something else I’ve been wondering about – the series is supposed to have four main books, all respectively named after seasons and colors. I wonder if the author has ever thought about using novellas to help take the edge off all those plots. He could do soulstices, holidays, and equinoxes after all. It would give a little more flow to the books if they were less packed-full of individual plotlines.
With all this being said, I did not hate this book. Jonas is young still, and there’s a lot he needs to learn. He and Kieran have his moments where they act like best friends, but Kieran still hides a deep hatred for Jonas and what he’s done. I enjoy the tension between these two throughout the book. The whole Amelia thing only adds to that. There are quite a few funny lines between Eve and Jonas, as they explore their relationship and are able to tease each other a lot more.
And I actually love some of the action-scenes. I particularly love when Jonas tracks down one of the Order baddies and tackles her in the street, using his vampire “blur” powers and then burning his blood by venting out through his shoulders, so that it looks like fire wings are coming out of his back.
Also, I’d like to read the next one. I read a little teaser about Red Spring and now it seems like we’ll be adding Angels into the mix. Interesting!
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Black Fall, and the author did not disappoint in this next installment. Young Jonas Black not only has to keep up with all of his training and help the Agency with some dangerous missions, but he also has to navigate complicated werewolf politics and relationships as the clan leader of a powerful werewolf family (some of whom are understandably disgruntled about having a vampire in charge). Oh, and then there's that prophecy about how he's going to destroy the world. So, you know, just another regular day in the life of a teenage vampire.
The story moves at a breakneck pace from start to finish so there's never a dull moment. Some of my favorite things about the first book continue to hold true here. The characters are rich and complex, the world is fascinating, and there's a wonderful sense of humor mixed into the whole thing to lighten the mood in spite of the grim events unfolding. I especially loved the social dynamics among the werewolves, not just in regards to individual relationships, but also on a larger scale. I'm a huge sucker for well-crafted social systems that explore all of the conflicts and tensions that might exist, and it was really awesome to see that so well done with the werewolves here.
This is a great series and I can see that there's a lot more great material to come. I can't wait to read the next book.
If you haven't already read Black Fall, get it and read it. White Winter doesn't hold your hand and explain everything you might've missed, it grabs your arm and shoves you into the thick of massacres, raids, rogue vampire hunts, and the end of the illusion for the human race.
The good news: Just like with Black Fall, the fight scenes in White Winter are epic, and there are about a million times more of them as Jonas, Kieran, and Eve grow into their new roles at the Agency. Guns, grenades, hand-to-hand, mind-to-mind, teeth-to-teeth, and magical showdowns—DJ Bodden pulled out all the stops in this one.
The great news: White Winter also has about a million times more heart. Somehow, in the moments between all the fighting, DJ Bodden finds time to develop the relationships he set into motion in Black Fall, then he proceeds to use those carefully woven relationships to break your heart into a million pieces.
The only bad news: Red Spring isn't out yet, so we're all going to have to wait on the edges of our seats for it. Maybe if we all get together and bug the author nonstop that will speed things along.
Once again, Bodden gives us an excellent thrill ride into the always twisting and turning saga of Jonas Black, prince of vampires, clan leader of werewolves, and ninja commando extraordinaire. This book has something to offer everyone; from the horror fan to milspec adventure buff. The characters continue to grow, plots twist unexpectedly, and the story flows seamlessly from Black Fall to White Winter as if both were one book. If you're a fan of urban adventure and fantasy, you won't want to miss this book.
The Balance is everything. It is what enables vampires and werewolves and far stranger things to co-exist with ordinary people, after a fashion. But after Jonas thwarts an attempt by the Order to take control of the Agency, the supernatural law enforcement that maintains the Balance, it becomes clear that the Balance itself is in danger.
White Winter picks up immediately after the events of Black Fall. Jonas has graduated, after a fashion, by testing out of his training with the Agency. By which I mean that he created an ad hoc alliance of human vigilantes, vampires, and werewolves to rescue his mother from her oldest friend, who happened to be possessed by a demon.
But that means he now has to go out in the world, and deal with the many, many problems that arise when you are trying to keep supernaturals both secret, and in check. I was particularly haunted by a program of the Agency which dispatched Puppeteers, vampires especially skilled in manipulating many people at once, to Rust Belt towns fallen on hard times. The vampire eased the misery of those left behind by globalization, giving them purpose and hope again, for the price of a pint of blood each, once every two weeks.
Of course, the vampire cannot make the jobs come back. All they can do is provide a more or less pleasant illusion for a few years, until everyone has built up an immunity to the manipulation, and the vampire moves on the next town. I am a live not by lies kind of guy, so I naturally recoil against this kind of thing. And I appreciate Bodden’s portrait of this doomed small town, because not everyone is OK with the deal. And eventually, the reckoning comes due regardless.
This is an interesting sub-theme of the supernatural world of The Black Year series. Part of the attraction of not just vampirism, but also far worse things that you will meet in this book, is that it provides a way to cheat death, at least for a while. Yet, the reaper eventually comes for everyone. The debt of life must be paid, and unnatural long life is often purchased at a price more dear than life itself. Thus the reckoning, when it finally arrives, is harder than it would have been if nature had been allowed to take its course.
This is probably a little easier to see if you don’t find vampirism attractive, as I do not. When I was a teenager, my friends wanted to play the White Wolf RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. The whole point of that game was to be a vampire, but I simply never wanted to be a monster; I wanted to kill them. This was a bit of a sticking point. I’d rather indulge in power fantasies by playing Halo or Doom.
Yet even here, neither vampirism nor lycanthropy make you evil, per se. Although they certainly do present some rather fierce temptations. While some do choose their condition, many more do not, becoming supernatural through being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Thus, for Jonas and his friends, they must seek to do good and avoid evil despite the obstacles placed in their path. This is the core which makes this more than just another YA vampire story.
I received a copy of this book from the author’s publicist.
*WHOLE SERIES REVIEW* Every once in a while, a book I loaned from the library would have some of its pages ripped off. Usually, I wouldn't notice it until I was so engrossed in the story and the most interesting part/explanation/important subplot happened to be on the page that was missing. This is how I felt reading this series. The world is so interesting, unconventional and the writing is solid. It's basically a coming of age story, but meant for adults. I particularly loved the unique take the author had on familiar fantasy tropes (SPOILER ALERT: vampires suffer from erectile dysfunction, which is hilarious when you think how they're usually portrayed). BUT (and it's a big but) it was so hard to keep up with everything that's happening. I literally had to go back a few pages to see if I missed some crucial info- and I had to do that like every 30 pages, at least. What's the most interesting thing, the writing is clear and concise, not confusing at all, but I still wasn't able to follow the story with ease. Which is a shame- with such interesting characters, unique ideas/mythology and a plot with great potential, this book (and the whole series) could have been one of the best I read this year. However, I feel compelled to keep it at 3* because of the fact that so much was glossed over and it made the impression that the story is missing something vital. I'll definitely keep my eye out for the next book in the series, because I did notice a slight improvement in the last installment of The Black Year Series.
D.J. Bodden has a bit of a problem: he hasn't finished this series yet.
I find myself unamused. When I am unamused by an author, I glower. I pace. I snarl. I send bad energy out into the universe. Yep: D.J. Bodden has a problem. All the negative frustration energy I feel will probably give him boils. In unfortunate places.
But that's his problem.
Your problem is that you're reading this review instead of this book. White Winter is worth your time, people. If you read Black Fall -- and I assume you did -- then you know that this is an interesting world. This is a new take on urban fantasy meets military fiction meets a supernatural coming of age novel. (And I'm surprised that there needs to be a new take on this combination of genres. But there you have it.) This book is much more than more of the same. The world expands. The characters expand. You will expand -- mentally, I hope, although physically is possible if you plant yourself on the couch with drinks and snacks, refusing to move until you finish reading, like I did today.
And it leaves you wanting more.
Which brings us all back to the beginning: D.J. Bodden has a problem. And, now, boils. And so do I. (The problem part, not the boils. At least, I don't think so.)
I'm just going to sit here, boil-less, and wait for Red Spring. You can join me after you catch up.
First of all, this is an urban fantasy with a young crowd, but not a YA. No sex, plenty of death but not graphic and no cliffhanger, but a lead towards the next book.
I like the characters in this world. I like the idea of the world and the Agency, Foundation and the werewolf clan. The magic is pretty cool too. Jonas has to save the world again but he has a prophecy that shows he destroys the world. It’s a pretty daunting task for a 16-17 year old whose mother is a manipulative vampire.
A lot of things happen in this story that stressed me out. The characters are living through trials of their own and it’s a hard life lesson. Their world is not soft or fluffy. These kids are thrown into circumstances that no kid should really be thrown into. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the descriptor of daunting is conservative.
badge3v4I had some trouble following the story in some spots. I’ve discussed my problems with the author and he was gracious enough to explain the big picture. I’m not as enamored with this book as the first story, Black Fall, but it was interesting nonetheless.
First I want to say that I was a HUGE fan of the first book in this series and much of what I loved about that book continued in this one. White Winter take place in a very interesting world, with excellent characters and a great story-line. And I'm still very much looking forward to the next installement in this series.
I did have some trouble following the story-line this time though. It jumped around a bit, feeling haphazard and disjointed. I was able to piece it together as I made my way through the book, but it took some doing. I feel like I'd happily re-read the entire book with a clearer edit worked on it.
I've high hopes that book 3 will have all the great elements from these first two books, and the smooth writing for book one.
This book answered a few questions (you get to see Black Alice in action!) and created a billion problems. It started slow, as did the first book, Black Fall, but when it got going it was impossible to put down. My pal D.J. Bodden has a real talent for action and fight scenes.