As an adult, sometimes I like to listen to children's audio books when I’m in a more easygoing mood or need a mental break from more complex plots. With that said, I’m still surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. This book is a playful version of all the serious fantasy novels out there. I love the fantasy genre and have listened/read so many that some of the plots have become predictable. While this one’s happy ending is just as predictable, the humor and hilarious characters make this one really worth a go.
I really wanted to like the story more, but unfortunately it felt like the story started halfway through. There's this huge history that the author keeps referring to but I just don't have any attachment to because there is no real reference. Unfortunately the history is pretty vital to the story and I feel should not have been skipped out on.
If you read the summary, you know that there is a love interest that started when the two characters first met. But this actually happened several years in the past so any building chemistry is missing. It feels like they just randomly show up together again. The romance otherwise feels like a hot guy with a few one liners that feel pretty cheesy. I will say that I at least liked that the guy seemed of a better quality than most teen romance guys in terms of being nicer and having a bit of actual personality.
Within the first few pages you will also know that the main character Alex is a half blood and was on the run from demons. There is this huge missing part of the story of Alex actually going on the run initially that I think would have been a better place to start the story. Everything starts basically at the end of Alex being on the run and conclusion and consequences of her being on the run. Unfortunately, since the audience was never with Alex on the run, I don't really care about the fact that she has consequences to deal with. It might have meant an entire extra book, but it would have meant much more meaningful characters.
All in all, the novel ended up feeling like a wish list for what the author wanted high school to be like. Basically, lots of physical training with a hot guy only a few years older, no actual classes, lots of fights and parties and a little bit of mystery to keep you away from the normality of being a normal human. I think with a little more development on the emotions that led up to and suspense of the actual chase, and a relationship with the mother and other adult figures that played major roles in Alex's life, I think there coulda been something since the friendships for written rather believably.
I definitely enjoyed the romance, but the main draw for me to this book was the use of weaving a modern day woman in to ancient folklore and mythology as well as some pretty interesting characters. There are several different types of folklore being drawn as inspiration for this book and the main character gets to walk the path of many of my favorite cultural stories.
The main character Eugene, or Odilia, depending on which character is referring to her since she has a spiritual name, is definitely a strong female character with just enough emotional hangups to be believable. She's a strong fighter and there are some good fight scenes in this story, but she definitely struggles with overcoming personal hang ups and accepting who she is. However she does not become whiny or annoying, just introspective.
I will say this book took a little while for me to get into. The book had a somewhat slow beginning, despite the fast-paced action intro. There are some meaningful relationships that the author takes the time to develop, and by the time the book was finished, I was definitely wanting more.
I'm a fan of the Dresden novels so I was looking forward to the series as something to read in the same genre. There's a bit of snark, a lot of action, a good bit of background folklore to develop the fantasy and the start of a romantic interest.
I personally like the urban fantasy series because I like imagining what it would be like to have a fantastical situation overlaid on mundane life. I think it's a tricky genre because you have to blend what's real and unreal in a convincing way and I think the author did a good job here.
The author also hinted at underground groups that were political powers to be discussed in future novels. I'm hopeful that this will really become fleshed out into something really rich in storytelling.
All in all I think this is a very strong start to a very interesting series and I'm looking forward to the next book.
I feel this book was more heavily focused on modern day occult lore and subculture than really developing the characters or romance. I feel that the main character was well developed, but only a couple of the supporting characters really got fleshed out near the end. Otherwise I feel that some of the characters and overall romance were a bit lacking for my personal taste. I never felt a moment of giddiness or butterflies as a character fell for her romantic interest, but I do feel that it was a fun read regardless because of the dramatized occult subculture story.
I feel that the method of delivery the author chose to tell the story somewhat hampered the overall ability to describe a spiritual journey. Coello chose to tell his story by a series of interviews, so some of the truth is muddled with rumor and spite by the surrounding characters. Well that made for good drama, I feel that it miss the mark for what he was trying to accomplish with this story. I really couldn't get a sense what the journey was supposed to be like for the main character because this.
While I wouldn't say this is maybe Molly Harper crazy funny, it's more sitcom funny. There's a little bit snark, a little bit spice, a hot tub and some baking.
Some of the past relationships of the main character seems a little too generic or forced, but clearly we don't care about those guys. The main squeeze is definitely hot in the book. The premise is, of course, but the main character meets her romantic interest by yelling at him to stop keeping her awake late at night banging on her wall and screwing half the town. From there, comedy and hijinks ensue.
I like that the author doesn't just gloss over her friends too. There's just enough built around all the characters to really get a sense of her who her friends are. I never appreciate it when an author writes the romance like the guy becomes the woman's sole purpose in life and everyone else magically disappears. So I'm glad that the supporting characters got a little love here.
The reader is rather good for this book. She manages to capture the comedic timing while still keeping in tune with the romance. There's a lot of times when I think the reader actually makes the book more enjoyable then the print version because of the way some of the innuendos written into the story.
I enjoyed the story but there are some caviats to my rating. The author definitely wants you to feel the emotions and growth of the character, Tobin, but I feel there is some lack of development on some of the larger political backgrounds that would make this more believable for some readers.
I'm not sure I toally agree with other reviewers that a major plot hole is to be found with Tobin's mother avoiding the king's assassins all of his other female relatives fall down dead. Some vague allusions are made about the politics and love protecting Tobin's mother, but I didn't really feel convinced. Perhaps if the politics were more clearly explained in this book beyond just vague prophecy, the plot hole would be shored up . Obviously the book has factions in its politics, and they play a very important role in Tobin's life, so I myself would have enjoyed learning more about them.
That said I feel there are some interesting characters in this book that warrant 4 vs 3 stars. It definitely is not a book that is cookie cutter and I'm interested to see some of the other hard decisions that the author forces her characters into.
This book is more focused on the emerging sexuality of Tobin and allowing all other explanations to fall to magic. There are a lot of dark consequences to the decisions made for Tobin at an early age by his guardians that are out of his control and greatly shape who he will become when the magic is removed. This book is not a political drama in a fantasy setting. If you're looking for that, this is probably not the book for you.
Overall I really liked this book. I feel it is a bit wordy, and it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're fans of The Game of Thrones series you will probably enjoy this book. It doesn't have quite as many convoluted plot twist with politics, and some of the things the characters do I find aggravating but true to character. There's definitely more magic and fantasy elements than The Game of Thrones series that are used as plot devices.
The author is definitely juggling a lot of things in this book and the hopping back and forth between the siblings does get a little redundant. He has to 'reset' the readers perception of what they do and do not know with the lies being told in the story.
The reader is good and consistent. I wouldn't say he is my absolute favorite in the industry but he doesn't distract or take away from the characters or story. He has a voice that goes well with the epic style story and doesn't hack any voices to death by over doing them or screaming during battle scenes.
I would recommend this book to fans of the Pendergast series. I listened to this book before any of the others, so some of the character's quirks that were taken for granted fell flat for me. The thriller has some of the fantastic elements I love, taking thrillers to the edges of science fiction and fantasy, adding a mysterious element that sparks my imagination. If you like those elements as well, I would definitely recommend it.
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