Rise of the Fallen by Teagan Chilcott
Appearing as students at a local Brisbane high school, Emilie and Cael are centuries-old elementals on the run. Their inseparable bond starts to fray when Soul, an irresistible demon, comes on the scene and Emilie follows him into the savage world where she and Cael were once kept captive.
Emilie is enchanted by Soul and a new existence where nothing is sacred - where death comes in the alleyway and graveyard brawls are commonplace - and she has to find her way among the shape shifters and vampyres in a demon hierarchy as complex as algebra. At first Soul’s intentions seem honourable, but Emilie soon finds that all is not as it seems…
I haven’t had a particularly good track record with books featuring angels. Happily, Chilcott does not fall into the trap that other authors have with the portrayal of the angels (although the angels don’t get nearly as much page time as the demons, what they did get didn’t annoy me, so yay).
However, I didn’t find Emilie the most endearing of characters. At the very start she struck me as a bit stupid and I felt like she was relying on Cael and Soul to dictate her life for her. Fortunately, as I got to know Emilie better, I came to realise that wasn’t quite true. It turns out she’s just hideously naive, which caused a bit of face-palming but was generally less bothersome. I never quite understood what she saw in Soul though and why she kept following him around when she didn’t really have to. At first I thought magic, but by the end that definitely wasn’t true. Possibly it just took a lot of him doing morally reprehensible things to knock the naive out of her. In any case, it didn’t quite feel like romance to me. Emilie is very quickly convinced that Soul cares about her and loves her, and while that is evident in his actions, I couldn’t see a reason for her to want to be with him. At least a relationship with Cael would have been based on long-standing mutual trust. Not one for dedicated romance fans.
Which brings me to the writing. It was a bit rough. I felt character — particularly relationships between characters — was not very well developed and some of the conversations were stilted. I was a bit baffled by some of Emilie’s actions, despite her explaining some of them to us. There could have been more descriptions of setting, particularly the more mundane Earthly settings, to ground some of the action. Overuse of “seemed” and “strangely enough” and other adverbs was grating although it did improve as it went along.
The ending was strong, setting up the next book in the series well. I read that the last chapter was what inspired the author to write the book, and looking back, I can see how everything was leading up to that point. It was definitely the most clearly drawn scene.
I think teens looking for a quick adventure story might enjoy Rise of the Fallen, particularly if they’re into paranormal fantasy. It will be interesting to see how Chilcott’s writing develops in the future.
3 / 5 stars
Series: Yes. Book 1 of 3
Format read: eARC
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge
Content imported from Blogger http://bit.ly/XPOa8s. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so at this link: http://bit.ly/XPOa8s.
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
City of Lost Souls is the fifth book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. You can read my reviews of the rest of the series at these links:
City of Lost Souls continues to follow Clary and Shadowhunter friends as they (mostly) fight the good fight and try to stop demons destroying the world.
I enjoyed City of Lost Souls much more than the previous book, Fallen Angels, which fell a bit flat for me. It picks up immediately where the story left off in book 4, and I was worried it would be more of the same in a bad way. But it wasn’t. I spent a lot of time shaking my head at Clary’s poor decisions but they were entirely in keeping with her character and none of them were overly stupid (something I hate), just risky.
In the previous book, I started to warm to Simon, Clary’s best friend, after being fairly ambivalent towards him in the original trilogy. He continues to increase in awesomeness, as do most of the Team Good (hehe) characters, with the exception of Alec to whom I was previously ambivalent and now spoilers. Perhaps it’s just that Alec dulls in comparison with Magnus, who had the most amusing lines in this one.
Vague review is vague, but it’s difficult to review a book 5 without spoilers for previous books. I have enjoyed this series (admittedly not as much as the prequel series set in 1870s London) and I highly recommend it to fans of urban fantasy YA. This is the only series featuring angels that I’ve read which hasn’t annoyed me with its religiosity. (Also, it has a Jewish vampire, what’s not to like?) If demon killing and humour sound like they might be your thing (kind of Buffy-style humour, although Clary and Buffy aren’t that similar), give the Mortal Instruments series a go.
4.5 / 5 stars
Exile by Rebecca Lim
Exile by Rebecca Lim is the second book in the Mercy series. You can read my review of Mercy here.
Exile continues the story of Mercy, an angel who for reasons unknown to her is cursed/sentenced to briefly possess different humans, constantly jumping around and never knowing where she’s going to end up next.
This time, she lands in Melbourne into the body of Lela a 19 year old girl who works at a coffee shop in the city and whose mother is dying of cancer.
She also has a vivid dream in which Luc, her angel love who is always beseeching her to find him, visits her. This time he has a plan for reuniting them.
Overall, I felt a bit ambivalent about this book. It wasn’t bad, in fact the writing was objectively fairly good. But the story, especially the angelic parts, completely failed to resonate with me. Which is more a comment on me than on the book. Compared with Mercy there were more magical dream-sequences which particularly didn’t do it for me. We do learn more about who and why Mercy is, but Luc has always seemed a bit creepy to me and if anything he seems more so after Exile. He’s her star-crossed lover and they’re being punished for some reason by being kept apart and he spends his time trying to stalk her down. On the bright side, it gives me someone to cheer against. Also the sort-of love interest from Mercy reappears and is a much more likeable prospect.
Unsurprisingly, as Mercy learns more, everything seems to get more complicated. If I have one complaint about the story structure it’s that it ends too soon for us to really get into to the meat of the mystery. However, it does end in a logical place and it’s not an unsatisfying ending. I do want to know more, but the sequels aren’t very high on my to buy list. Mostly, it’s just a little bit too goddy for my taste (but objectively, really not that religious).
One final note: I’m not sure this is terribly YA. The protagonist is on the cusp of the requisite age group but thematically this series hasn’t struck me as very YAish. I suspect the shortness of the books contributed to them being marketed as YA. It’s not that I think they’re inappropriate for young people, I just didn’t feel they quite fitted into the usual YA mould (but it sort of makes sense from a marketing perspective since they’re short and fantasyish it would be harder to sell them as adult fiction).
If you like YA fantasy with angels, then I highly recommend this book. If you like YA that’s lighter on the fantasy and more rooted in the real world than, for example, your standard vampire story, this is also a book you might like.
3.5 / 5 stars
Mercy by Rebecca Lim
Mercy by Rebecca Lim, is a YA book about Mercy, an angel (or something like that, it’s not entirely articulated, despite what the blurb says). She is forcibly thrust into random girls bodies and forced to take over their lives. She never knows where she’ll wake up, who she’ll have to be or why. This time, she wakes up as Carmen, a star soprano singer in a high school choir. The choir is visiting the town of Paradise for a concert and preparations and Mercy/Carmen finds herself billeted with the family of a girl who disappeared two years previously.
Although everyone else assumes the missing girl is dead, her twin brother believes she is alive and hasn’t given up searching for her. Mercy realised that he’s probably right and joins him in his search and attempts to work out who the culprit is.
Although this is a YA book, it reminded me a bit of serial killer books I’ve read in the past (Michael Marshal [Smith] springs to mind), but that’s possibly more a reflection of the dearth of crime novels I’ve read. Nevertheless, I found something appealing about Mercy’s attempts to work out who did it and try to get inside the criminal’s mind. That aspect of the novel was dark in a different way to, for example, YA dystopias. It was about the darkness inside one person than the darkness of an oppressive society or a war.
Lim has a more poetic writing style than most other YA books I can think of. Also, written in first person, Mercy spends more time philosophising than other YA characters that spring to mind (possibly because she’s not really a teenage girl). She also spends time wondering who and why she really is, who the mysterious probably-angels that she dreams about are and so forth. I didn’t find those parts as exciting as the who kidnapped the girl parts and at times they got a bit tedious.
On the other hand, I enjoyed the parts where she didn’t care what the bitchy girls thought of her/Carmen and didn’t respond as insecurely as Carmen would have. There was pleasure to be derived from watching the bitchy popular girl squirm. Oh, and Mercy isn’t a terribly kind person, which, if anything, added to her character, in my opinion.
Overall, Mercy is a well-written book. I’ll be picking up the sequel although my impression is that almost all the supporting characters will have changed. Hopefully Mercy’s character will be enough to carry off the dramatic change (according to the blurb and Shaheen’s review).
4 / 5 stars