Living Within the Pages – Book Review #11

20 12 2010

Title: Torment

Author: Lauren Kate

Series: Fallen (#2)

Amazon Rating: 4

Goodreads Rating: 4.03

Alex’s Rating: 3

The setting of Torment couldn’t have been more different than the doom and gloom scene that was Fallen. Sword & Cross was a dark, drab, and down right depressing school to attend. In Torment, Daniel ships Luce off (and yes he is a bit of an agressive boy toy so I use ship instead of send) to Shoreline, a school on the California coast described as a Pepperdine for Nephilim. The entire story revolves around Luce chasing the Announcers, her new relationships with Shelby (her roommate) and Miles (a new love interest). It revolves around Daniel sneaking back to see her, them kissing, fighting, and him leaving. Both seem dissatisfied with this arrangement and so does the reader as it is a pretty stable plotline of fighting, making up, and Luce summoning Announcers outside of her classroom activities.

I was happily awaiting the release of Torment in hopes that it would redeem Lauren Kate’s first installment, Fallen, of her Fallen series. I was intrigued by Luce and Daniel’s story even though it had many flaws and left many questions unanswered at the end of the first book. In my review of Fallen, I asked several questions. I have repeated them below and given the answers (if answers were given) I gleaned from Torment.

1) Why are Cam and Daniel both fighting for Luce? It seemed Cam wanted her genuinely, but then told Daniel he couldn’t wait to annihilate her, only then at the end of the book to say he “just wants her. You know why,” (Cam speaking to Daniel as they watch Luce sleep). What is this triangle?

ANSWER: We never find out why Cam and Daniel are both fighting for Luce in Torment. It doesn’t seem like we will get this answer for a while as the third book is more like a prequel, showing Daniel and Luce’s story over the past millennia. Cam seemed to be out of the love triangle in this book as Miles entered the picture.

2) Why were all of these angels at Sword & Cross anyway? They were there before Luce came, so they could not have been there because they came to protect her.

ANSWER: We were never told why the angels were all at Sword & Cross in the first place.

3) What really happened the night her boyfriend Trevor died in the fire? The fire that got her exiled to Sword & Cross in the first place.

ANSWER: Another unanswered question. We never found out what happened to Trevor, or why fires/tragedy seemed to follow Luce with her first boyfriend and then again at the library at Sword & Cross.

4) What are the shadows really? Why can Luce see them? Who do they belong to?

ANSWER: This book was almost solely based on Luce’s relationship with the Shadows/Announcers. Shadows/Announcers can be summoned by angels and some Nephilim (children of angel/mortal unions), and evidently by Luce in this lifetime, unlike her previous lifetimes. In the last book, Daniel calls them “gossips,” delivering messages back to others…but again, we aren’t told who these others are, and I don’t know if I really agree with the “gossips” and message delivering description given in Fallen as it does not match what is in Torment. In Torment, the Shadows/Announcers, I got the impression they held messages from the past that were specific to the summoner. One could fall in and get lost in the shadows, or, if done properly, one could travel through them. They are distorted (but mostly accurate) descriptions of every moment of history in the world. In this book, Luce was obsessed with them, hoping to glimpse she and Daniel’s past(s). I’m not sure why, but the book’s dependence on these shadows annoyed me. I never felt like I gleaned much information form them except a few of Luce’s annihilations and a few other bits and pieces that I don’t want to spoil (although there isn’t much to spoil.) It seemed these were just another way to move the plot along as Luce “summons” these shadows often and are in many of the book’s scenes. It was a point that was dragged on too long. We are never told why Luce can see them, and we don’t know who they belong to.

5) What is this “longest, greatest battle ever fought?” Is it the fight between “good” and “evil?” I feel like I need this spelled out better.

ANSWER: I still didn’t feel I got much explanation on this battle. In Torment, Daniel and Cam (who the reader is told is actually a demon, but with angel wings…) are fighting on the same side, to keep Luce safe from a new enemy…the Outcasts. The Outcasts are a group of fallen angels not welcomed by Heaven or Hell, but they say Luce is their key at the end scene of the book. Again, I didn’t get much information on this and would like a little more on the Outcasts and why Luce is their “key.” Their key to what? Redemption? Back into Heaven? Back into Hell? Where?

6) What was Miss Sophia’s role? I feel like she all of a sudden went nutso and we were left with the explanation that she is part of a secret sect of Heavenly Elders. I need more on this subject please Miss Kate.

ANSWER: Miss Sophia was barely mentioned in this book. We didn’t get any info on her secret Heavenly sect or how it relates to wanting Luce dead.

7) And what did Miss Sophia mean that fate of everyone’s eternal souls lies in two lovers? What exactly is tipping the balance when Miss Sophia tried to kill Luce? Why does Miss Sophia want Daniel “freed up?”

ANSWER: We are told Daniel is tipping the balance, but we are not told why. We only know Daniel left a high position in Heaven to be with Luce, but again, this was about a two-sentence long explanation. No heavy duty explaining. We are not told why the fate of everyone’s eternal souls is wrapped up within these two lovers. I am hoping (dear Lord I am using this hoping emotion often with this series) to get it explained sometime within the next two books.

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The entire book was focused on two things and then a third minor thing towards the end: 1) Luce and the Shadows/Announcers. 2) Luce and Daniel kissing then fighting (this happens at least three or four times and seemed like a plot filler just to keep Daniel in the picture). And 3) Luce developing a crush on Miles although it comes up rather abruptly and then she quickly says no, that she loves Daniel.

I’m not sure why I read series that I am dissatisfied with. Call it the OCD reader in me, once I start something I must finish it. Or, perhaps it is the fact that I see a truly wonderful story and many possibilities with Lauren Kate’s novel, and I try to look past the many, many flaws. What is it with her editors and not asking her to develop her plot, unanswered questions, and lovers better? To be honest, the best parts of her books are the secondary characters. Although Cam fell by the wayside in this novel (I was thoroughly disappointed in this), other characters were great, such as Miles, Shelby, Arriane, Steven, and Francesca. There were some twists and turns with these characters. I have noticed this as a trend lately…writers have been developing their secondary characters/relationships better than their heroes/heroines.

Another large flaw…throughout the entire book the reader realizes things much quicker than the other characters. Daniel as the angel who tips the scales (whatever that means), and Phil the SAEB is an Outcast (sorry if those were wee little spoilers). But at the same time, like Luce, the reader is not given many answers until later, if even at all. For example, why is Luce sent to a school with Nephilim? Why is it dangerous for Daniel to be around her for the 18 day truce? Why was Roland sent to the Shoreline school? (I’m assuming for Luce’s protection, but we never see him except on the periphery and his role is never explained.)

Again, I can’t truly pinpoint it, but I found Luce kind of obnoxious in this book; Daniel as well. He was so secretive yet wanted Luce to blindly believe in their love. Luce was so obsessed with the Shadows/Announcers and then her back and forth with Daniel, that I never really felt connected to her as a character. But because I love angels/fallen angels and a love story (especially combined) I will go on to read the next book, Passion. I will continue to follow Luce and Daniel’s story, mostly in hopes that I will get my many questions answered.

Some new questions to ponder…

1) What are Daniel and Luce’s roles in this epic battle?
2) Where will Miles fit in to the next book, or was he just a nice little carrot dangled in Torment only?
3) Where did Luce go and why must she look into her past to seek answers in her future that Daniel and the other angels can’t seem to answer?
4) Are Luce and Daniel truly meant for each other? What would happen if Luce chose Cam or Miles?
5) What happens now that the 18 day truce is over between angels and demons?
6) What do the Outcasts want with Luce? And will the truce continue so the angels and demons can protect Luce?
7) And truly, will someone please explain why Luce seems to be the key for all of these fallen angels in some way or another?

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Living Within the Pages – Book Review #10

13 12 2010

Title: Fallen

Author: Lauren Kate

Series: Fallen (#1)

Amazon Rating: 3.5

Goodreads Rating: 3.81

Alex’s Rating: 3

I was excited to start Lauren Kate’s novel Fallen, as I am an avid YA genre reader with personal research and interest in vampires and angels. As many Amazon reviews state, the marketing for this book was extremely generous. The book was definitely hard to get into, I had to keep persevering, if only to get to a reconciliation between Luce and Daniel. The hot-and-cold, back-and-forth emotional rollercoaster Daniel put on Luce was exhausting and annoying. I am surprised the author’s editor didn’t tell her to bring it on sooner.

It wasn’t until around 250 or so that I felt Daniel really did have more of an interest and feelings for Luce than he let on. In actuality, it was Cam’s character that intrigued me most up until this point and I kept reading to see how his and Luce’s relationship progressed. Call me a sucker for a mischievous boy who you just can’t pin a label to, but I enjoyed his character very much.

At about page 300 was when I really saw Daniel’s feelings for Luce. The incident in the library with him fighting Cam and the several succeeding chapters are what really hooked me. The love triangle I had been waiting for was finally coming to fruition! It was also at this point Luce started putting things together: Daniel is from a line of “Watchers,” he is an angel, and he is involved in a millennia long war against (well this is where I get confused) other fallen angels, demons, shadows?

Although I was happy to see that this time around, the love between Daniel and Luce was “different,” I was still left dissatisfied by the end. We are told they are able to kiss because something is different this time around with Luce. We are told it is because her parents did not baptize her, leaving her soul “up for grabs.” But again, with this point I was left hanging. What does it mean her soul is “up for grabs?” Up for grabs with the “good” fallen angels or the “bad” fallen angels? What exactly is Luce’s role in the longest and greatest battle of all time? What exactly is this battle? Good versus evil? None of these ideas were fleshed out. I realize this might have been on purpose because the book is part of a series, but I can’t help but feel that a good development editor couldn’t have really steered this book onto the right track.

I had several more qualms with this book. The “shadows” that were so prominent in Luce’s world were never explained enough. Sure, Daniel says they are “Announcers,” gossips reporting to someone else. But who is this someone else? What do they want with Luce? Why are they sending shadows to her? As warnings, omens? Again, I am lost.

I think the reason I gave this book a chance was because of its premise. I love angel novels, and I haven’t really found one I feel really fulfills me (although the Grace series by S.L. Naeole is really wonderful). I have so many questions still for this series, and it is because I want those answered will I continue to read this series. I think Lauren Kate has a story with great potential, but I just couldn’t get myself to “love” this story or even the characters (sadly, except for Cam). What is it with people writing wonderful villains but not so great heroes/heroines?

My largest questions are:

1) Why are Cam and Daniel both fighting for Luce? It seemed Cam wanted her genuinely, but then told Daniel he couldn’t wait to annihilate her, only then at the end of the book to say he “just wants her. You know why,” (Cam speaking to Daniel as they watch Luce sleep). What is this triangle?
2) Why were all of these angels at Sword & Cross anyway? They were there before Luce came, so they could not have been there because they came to protect her.
3) What really happened the night her boyfriend Trevor died in the fire? The fire that got her exiled to Sword & Cross in the first place.
4) What are the shadows really? Why can Luce see them? Who do they belong to?
5) What is this “longest, greatest battle ever fought?” Is it the fight between “good” and “evil?” I feel like I need this spelled out better.
6) What was Miss Sophia’s role? I feel like she all of a sudden went nutso and we were left with the explanation that she is part of a secret sect of Heavenly Elders. I need more on this subject please Miss Kate.
7) And what did Miss Sophia mean that fate of everyone’s eternal souls lies in two lovers? What exactly is tipping the balance when Miss Sophia tried to kill Luce? Why does Miss Sophia want Daniel “freed up?”

I’m hoping to get some of my questions answered in the sequel Torment. I have that sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Although I am not in love with this series, I don’t regret that I read them. Just get through the grueling first half and you shall be rewarded. Perhaps it was “first book in a series” syndrome and numero dos is much better. Let’s pray. (Pun intended.)





Living Within the Pages – Book Review #2

20 09 2010

Title: Falling From Grace

Author: S.L. Naeole

Series: The Grace series (#1)

Amazon Rating: 4.5

Goodreads Rating: 4.51

Alex’s Rating: 4

Falling From Grace follows the life of seventeen year old Grace Shelley. Over the summer she confessed her love for her best friend, Graham, and he rejected her. She has always been considered an oddball, Weirdo Grace, and different, and being rejected by Graham, the only friend she had, solidified her status as an outsider. (We don’t learn until later in the book that she is considered an outsider due to an accident when she was younger in which her mother perished and she walked away unscathed.) The first day back at school, she meets a “beautiful stranger” named Robert—tall, black hair, liquid silver eyes, and speaks with a British accent. All of the girls are fawning over him, but he seems to be oddly intrigued by Grace. The rest of the novel unfolds into a courtship and development of the characters of Grace and Robert as he slowly lets her in on little secrets. He can read the minds of humans, he can allow Grace to read certain thoughts, and most importantly, he is an angel. A juvenile angel awaiting the individual who will bring him his wings and receive his call to serve a duty for Heaven. The story also follows Graham, his girlfriend Erica, a nasty and spiteful typical teenage villain, Stacey, and Robert’s family, his sister Lark and his mother Ameila. Falling From Grace is the first novel in the Grace series by S.L. Naeole, three of the novels currently out on Kindle and only the first out in print.

Overall, I personally enjoyed this novel. I am a sucker for paranormal love stories, and this did not disappoint. The disappointment has come from the fact that I do not own a Kindle and I will not be able to read books two and three of the series until they come to print. I also have qualms because there were a significant amount of typos within this text. Forgotten periods, additional prepositions just inserted within the text, etc. I do not know if this is because there was a conversion error going from Kindle and eBook editions to print, but it was extremely distracting and I hope it is fixed in the upcoming editions. If not for the wonderful storyline (although I did get frustrated with both Robert and Grace at times) the typos would have made me put the book down and demand a refund.

I enjoyed this angel story because it had nothing to do with religion. It gave angels a place among mythological creatures that were both good and bad, but not necessarily governed by the church, and in today’s society, I think the more non-denominational angel stories can be, the better.

Kudos to S.L. Naeole for also succeeding in young adult series that is not stereotypically YA. It had an air of maturity about it and that was enjoyable. I believe adults will find this story sweet, and teens who have never really fit in to have a hope of something beautiful coming their way.

The other books in the series: Bird Song (Grace Series #2)(available on Kindle, not available in print yet); Black Halo (Grace Series #3)(available on Kindle, not availabe in print yet); Grace of Day (Grace Series #4)(release date not yet available).