My impression is that this book felt a little too dragged out. A lot of circling around the same questions without actual developments. A lot of back-and-forward on relationships. A lot of interesting side character, but so many questions… Even the humour felt sometimes laid too thick and forced sometimes. Also, …mostly frustrating and unsatisfactory ending. Hoping for swift improvement in the future books…
The head-hopping pov is turning very quickly into one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to writing.
(somewhere between the ‘using foreign languages when you can’t do it without mistakes’ and ‘adding rape for the coolness factor’)
I can’t believe how many writers don’t find not okay… I really think it’s nowhere close to okay, when your pov changes from thoughts of one character to another in the same paragraph. Or even in the next paragraph without a clear text break. Bite me.
My TBR pile of paper books officially reached number 111 today…
I must say I was a little surprised no actually enjoy this book, partially because I was expecting another cheesy oversexualised super-hot-vampire-and-damsel-in-distress ‘female fantasy’ kind of story, and partially because I kind of hated “Halfway to the Grave“. (Though I didn’t even realise this was by the same author and belonged to the same universe until I was already reading.)
This book has an interesting heroine, who is neither the ‘innocent saint’ nor the ‘sassy bitch in miniskirt’ type of the usual vampire novel heroine, and this is one of the things I like about this book the most. She doesn’t lie to herself much, she deals with the shit that falls on her, she does what she needs to. Also, I have a tendency to prefer characters who maybe a little too fearless in a way that they stand up for the things they believe in, even in the circumstances where normal human instinct would tell them not to dig their own grave. She also has morals. I haven’t read any “Night Huntress” books after DNFing the first one, so this feels like an impressive improvement from a clueless-serial-killer(psycho)-playing-at-dress-up type of main character I saw there. I did, however, see the similar love for unnecessary over-the-top violence and torture. Not a fan. Especially because of the fact that its senselessness (unnecessary-ness) is so very glaring. I mean, could you actually explain to me what is the point of all the torture when you 1)can read minds and 2) actually have a person who can touch someone and tell you what they’ve done and where they’ve been better than anyone can torture out? I don’t know if the author is just so in love with all the gore, but it’s nothing but gore for the sake of gore, and we have a main hero and ‘love interest’ who continues to torture other vampires with no reasonable justification. Now, speaking of Vlad, I didn’t actually mind that this is another book about the Vlad. Though I do suppose it is a bit of a tired idea. What I did mind is the fact that it feels like the only aspect in which the fact that Vlad is a centuries old vampire is in any way reflected is his tendency for violent resolutions of everything. I can’t really explain what exactly I’m expecting to see, but I think that the fact that these ‘people’ have been around for a very long time and have ‘seen it all’ should have been made a little more believable. This Vlad only reads like some sort of modern businessmen, just an abnormally bloodthirsty one.
Also, I hate when people translate Voivode (Wojewoda) as ‘prince’, or use them as synonyms. That’s not what it means at all. Yes, you can be both, but inherent meanings in the titles are very different.
Character-focused Sci-fi action thriller about fierce love and humanity
This book gets better as you go. I have a feeling I was tilting my head at some of the world details in the beginning, but now I can’t even remember what they were. While this sci-fi world isn’t one of more diverse/detailed/comprehensive out there, I think it’s developed enough for the scope of this book. It feels solid, and, more importantly, interconnected with its very real and complex characters. I feel that this is mostly a character-focused story, with ‘bigger’, more important and terrifying, issues constantly present, but slightly further on the background; while the interactions and inner turmoils of the characters are more vivid and are always in the centre of the focus. I don’t mind it, and I liked a lot of things about these characters and developments between them. And I don’t mean only the main characters and the romance, but all positive and negative (or neutral) side characters they meet—none of them feel faceless or bleak, and they don’t just act in predictable one-pattern ways.
I can’t say this book didn’t keep me constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Not a feeling I enjoy…) What I do find unfortunate is that it was only partially related to worrying about ‘what would happen’ and more heavily related to ‘how the main character is going to react’ to something that wasn’t difficult to predict to happen. I must say, while a lot of the emotions and questions in this story spoke to me closely, there were times where I wished the main character would use her head a bit more (read between the lines better, make better arguments that for me felt very obvious), and not create more angst that was necessary.
(and say something like “I can promise you to accept without asking questions. But do consider this argument – saying that you’re afraid I will hate you if I know everything kind of feels you don’t trust me to love you at all.” and “The fear I sense when I imagine you see all of my thought is the same one that drives you to hide yourself from me. I’m afraid you will see something that will hurt you or will make you walk away. You don’t need to be a winged demon to think yourself ugly.)
Overall, other than getting a bit more of an adrenaline boost that I needed right now, this was a very enjoyable read and I can’t find many faults with this book.
To be honest, this is a case of ‘I don’t think I’ll know if I even like this until (if) I read the sequel’. There’s such thing as few too many twists and few too many lies. For example, I’m not sure if I feel like all main characters changed their personalities and beliefs too abruptly for it to be believable, or if it can actually be believable in the circumstances. (Should we really change sides so much and feel comfortable with characters who murdered and tortured under our noses?) I feel uncomfortable to comment on any story developments, other than say that the ending is a chaos and I don’t think I enjoy where it went…unless I see it go somewhere else in a future book. If I judge from the fact that I really don’t like ‘mind game’ books in general (as in constantly not knowing what is real and what is really going on), then I suppose I don’t like this book. But I think I need to see where it all tries to lead to just to be certain. Because right now, there are more questions than answers. This book on its own gives too little to judge on.
There is an interesting style, and I especially enjoyed the ‘excerpts’ at the beginning of each chapter. More importantly, kudos for making it into a fantasy world ‘vaguely inspired’ by slavic cultures than actually borrowing from them more than names. I think it is an interesting and well-developed world, even if small and unhappy. At the same time I feel there is a substantial room for improvement in terms of writing. It’s on a simpler side, it doesn’t really grab you, it doesn’t make you feel like you can’t let yourself put the book down. And little things, like overuse of the word ‘boy’ got on my nerves sometimes. Reading this book felt like watching its story on fast-forward. That unbalanced way of catching some random moments very clearly and just flying by the rest of events. The action sequences were a bit hard to follow. Not really written in a way that would make it easy to see what is going on around the main character and why. Maybe this is also related to my ‘fast-forwarded’ impression.
Overall, ‘chaos’ is the most true impression of this book, and it leaves me confused. Question is, will it untangle or will it continue in the same tone and manner?
Yet, I believe what really grinds my gears, and prevents me from leaving this topic alone and not wasting my energy on thinking about it for 2 days already, is that if the situation was the opposite, as in, if the main characters were supposed to be from somewhere from Africa (or say Asia or Middle East), but instead white British actors were hired to play their roles, there would have been 10 times more outrage.
And then thousands of people who never even read the books would also flock to protest and express their outrage once they’d sniff it out, because how dare the tv producers not respect people’s races and cultures.
And I highly doubt the author would have been able to write her ‘proud post’ about how she thinks the cast is just right, and she never even remembered that her own main character had eyes of a specific colour. and that he is ‘right for the role in every way that matters’ (except race, because race doesn’t matter). Because she would just get stoned for that.
…In everyday circumstances, I would be among the first to say that race doesn’t matter. Because, in everyday life, I don’t really care (and, to be honest, my cognitive abilities are failing enough that sometimes I can’t tell Japanese people from foreigners when I’m outside…).
But when we talk about integrity of cultures and world settings… I think every culture and setting should be equally protected and represented as it was historically, or as it was written to be.
For the most of this book, I though I would be able to at least give this book 3 stars (1 for its events, 5 for its words, divide the sum)…but somewhere closer to the final 3rd even the writing I found compelling and interesting had turned to the worse. While most of the prose in this is very well done and indicates a talent, there is really something wrong with the way relationships between people are written here. And the closer they became, the more that ‘wrongness’ stood out for me. But that’s not my biggest issue with this book.
I wonder when we will finally move out of this fashion of YA books that all begin the same: the theme of oppression, mental or physical slavery and domination, a presence of some kind of absolutely evil/disturbing/disgusting egocentric monarch getting off on abusing others, and our hero/heroes just taking it. The genders change, the worlds change, we can be on Earth, Cosmos, or some other land; we can change favourite English cuss word to ‘daama’ and ‘elves’ to ‘safir’, but it’s still all the same overused and tired formula. These stories may be dressed in different images and names, but they all smell exactly the same. Of some weird YA fascination with abuse, humiliation, and misery that makes me vomit a little in my mouth. And of making death and torture trivial and commonplace.
Here, once again we have out shackled heroes grinding their teeth, psychopathic antagonist monarch torturing and killing for fun (or for some great purpose and fun) (who are also exactly the same in every book), reluctant forbidden attraction, hidden destiny to change the world… You read and 50 pages in you can pretty much tell where this will go and which of the introduced characters will end up where. Then you read on hoping the book might still surprise you and prove you wrong…and in never does. If anything, it kept getting worse the closer it got the part III of the book. The childish
‘And then his grip began to falter.’
the awkwardly written ill-fitted developing relationship (even when you know it was going to happen from the very beginning, the way it was written in just felt…all wrong). And then the mess of an “ending” with so much wrong there too.
I don’t read YA that much, but even I find myself very tired from seeing this same set up and bone structure everywhere. I wish one day when I get a new YA book in my mail it would really be NEW.
That said, some do it better than others and it has to be said that the writing, imagination, and world building in this book are all at least admirably good. I believe the author really possesses a keen talent with words, but (only in my personal opinion) it’s a shame that it was used to join the line of identical YA misery stories. Because no matter how attractive your characters are, and imaginative your world setting is, what matters in the end is the following: Did this book tell me something new? Did reading this book bring any positive or pleasant emotions? (Did it leave me with something good?) Does it feel like I would want to revisit/re-experience/reread this book in the future? And for me personally, answer to all these questions is the same – No. Because why would I want to re-experience something that didn’t bring anything good or positive into my life?
A rare occurrence in literary world—a second book of the series that is as good as the first, if not better. (Except for the cover, the covers are still cheesy and terrible.) Gripping action, solid developments, compelling characters, powered-up romance. It’s a very difficult book to put down.
Personally, it’s the moments like this that I love the most about these books:
Rogan regarded me with his blue eyes, took out a baseball hat, and put it on. Dragon in camouflage, going down to the village to spy on the delicious people living there. He clicked his teeth, biting through the air. I had to stop thinking about dragons.
A very short side story. Personally, I didn’t really enjoy the Japanese culture involvement much. Firstly, because of how the cultural behaviors were painted. Secondly, because everyone always zeroes-in on jorougumo all the time. It gets old. (I do realize that this novella was written a while back.) Jim is great (as always), but Dali’s low self esteem issues are a bit too idiotic (the ‘I think it’s better to be a pretty idiot, that be smart and look like me’ ones…she’s an idiot enough). I don’t think I enjoy how her character was painted here much at all. And it turned into a story of ‘good, strong, smart, and powerful’ man loving ‘an awkward idiot’ despite her idiocy…which also gets old.
The body count might be a bit larger than usual (than in previous books). The main characters are great – unique, complex, and fun. My only complain is that I wish we had more time with them. Learn more about Malcolm, more about Kanika’s transformations and origins, more interactions with beings other than Satin and archangels, and so on. Then, there’s the fact that the ending is hardly complete and the little details like that we, as readers, missed the parts of which Kanika has no recollection. So I do hope there’s some kind of a sequel, because the mix of cultures in these two characters is really interesting and it would be terrific to explore them more.
One thought: “Omg, please please please don’t be some kind of Cinderella retelling…” was pounding in my head while I was trying to read through the prologue… and then of course it goes and does just that. Which will make this review even more subjective and negative than usual. I never liked Cinderella, and that is mostly because the character/idea of disgustingly malicious and abusive ‘evil stepmother’ sends me into fits of rage and disgust the second I see it, and the fact that everyone runs in circles of angst because everyone keeps lying to each other. After I finished the prologue I knew that the only way I will be able to read this book is by sometimes skipping through whole pages, because the moment the ‘stepmother’ appeared on the page I would want to commit murder in some violent way and I don’t enjoy the feeling. And I don’t read books to experience it.
Angst is definitely not what I look for in this series. While I’m sure some readers loooved the drama (the evilness, the worrying about how the main characters will escape their increasingly angsty circumstances, eagerly waiting for the truth to finally come out), I personally hate hate hate it. And I hate plots that are built on angst that is built on lies on top of lies on top of lies. Plots like this are not enjoyable to read at all, and I had to read this book very selectively to get through it while hoping that maybe at least the next one could be more like the first one. Benedict is the only good thing about this book, and it made him a character to ‘feel sorry for’ in double: first because his characters in general invites some feeling sorry for (almost of maternal variety), and then because it’s unfortunate that he is the one who ended up with a book with a plot like this. The main character Sophie just might be the most irritating female main character in the series so far (and books by Julia Quinn I’ve read in general). She was determined to make her own life and everything around her more complicated at every step. Then there’s the fact that it didn’t really feel as romantic and all that he made his advances before he knew the truth. Or decided that he didn’t care. There were a few good and fun moments in this book, but there’s also way too much cheesy angst, too much of too cheesy romance lines, and too much of irritating mess in general. Not a book to relax with and enjoy peacefully at all.
When you’re someone who (or in a stage) reads 20-30 books monthly (and also has trouble finding books that your sick and tired psyche can handle atm, so ends up discarding half as much as ‘read later when I have the right mood’, thus creating 80-90 book TBR piles on the top of your bookshelf), while also living in a small Tokyo apartment and not in an ancient castle with 2-floor library, opting for doing it through an ebook reader should be a no-brainer. The most logical, easiest option. The only acceptable option, some even would insist… Not only it would save you from struggling to find a space to store all your books, but also, kindle versions are very often come 5-15 dollars cheaper than buying paper books (not to mention sometimes having to pay for shipping to Japan, though having Prime helps). Why, sometimes, they are even free on kindle. So, really, a no-brainrer. Or it should be. …Unless you are also an aspie to whom the sensory experience of reading a book (holding it, touching the paper, smelling the paper, feeling exactly how much you’ve progressed) is as important as reading the words on a page and without it reading is not reading, and your brain actually misses chunks of content when you’re reading from an e-reader (tried and confirmed multiple times). Then all bets are off and you can only improve your ‘finding places to put bookshelves’ game and hope he floor doesn’t give up during the next earthquake. Or in general.