Dangerous Creatures – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Dangerous Creatures – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

23289122Ridley Duchannes is nobody’s heroine. She’s a Dark Caster, a Siren. She can make you do things. Anything. You can’t trust her, or yourself when she’s around. And she’ll be the first to tell you to stay away–especially if you’re going to do something as stupid as fall in love with her.

Lucky for Ridley, her wannabe rocker boyfriend, Wesley “Link” Lincoln, never listens to anyone. Link doesn’t care if Rid’s no good for him, and he takes her along when he leaves small-town Gatlin to follow his rock-star dream. He teams up with a ragtag group of Dark Casters, and when the band scores a gig at a hot Underground club, it looks like all of Link’s dreams are about to come true.

But New York City is a dangerous place for both Casters and Mortals, and soon Ridley realizes that Link’s bandmates are keeping secrets. With bad-boy club owner Lennox Gates on her heels, Rid is determined to find out the truth. What she discovers is worse than she could have imagined: Link has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay. With their lives on the line, what’s a Siren to do?

Okay, so it’s been a while since I read a Caster Chronicles book, but I don’t remember feeling THIS DISAPPOINTED when I put them down. Let’s start with Ridley.

Ridley was a great character. Emphasis on “was”. In the original series, she was a feisty badass. She took nothin’ from no-one, and, even if she had a soft side when it came to her cousin, she mostly just did what she wanted. I mean, she’s a SIREN, for glob’s sake, aren’t they supposed to be vivacious?

In this book, however, she’s basically become Lena 2.0. She’s sad and self-pitying and whiny and basically mopes around because she made a mistake and doesn’t have the lady balls to put it right. Beautiful Creatures-era Ridley would have unwrapped a lollipop so fast, poor Link’s head would spin, and she’d have set everything right in no time flat.

Now, granted, I can’t remember how Ridley’s storyline ended in Beautiful Redemption, and apparently there was some sort of e-novella in between that series and this one? So maybe I’m missing some key plot point that explains this sudden shift in behaviour (though, at this point, I think this series was written for the money. More on that in a moment).

I spent most of the book waiting for Ridley to be her normal sassy self, but it was all for naught. Instead, I cringed at the descriptions of her “sexy” outfits and sighed when she repeated the same “I’m just a Siren sitting by myself on a curb” sentence half a dozen times. She tries to make up for her lackluster personality by saying “edgy” things, but her best line – “Payback’s a bitch. But here’s the thing: So am I.” – sounds like it was taken straight out of Batman Returns, which was released 23 years ago.

catwoman

Sidenote: casting Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman was one of the greatest cinematic decisions ever made. SHE WAS PURR-FECT.

Then we move on to the love triangle. Oh yes, a love triangle.

I have a love-hate relationship with love triangles. Done well, they add drama and actually leave you feeling tangled up. Done poorly, and you find yourself yelling “THIS ISN’T EVEN A CONTEST”, while hating the character you know isn’t going to end up being The One. I remember being annoyed with Beautiful Darkness when Olivia and John were introduced (that was one wacky love quadrangle, though, I’ll give them that!); similarly, I was annoyed when Lennox was wandering around all love-struck.

I’d have actually liked Lennox’s character more if he was a strong female, mostly because I think it would have breathed more life in Ridley if she was indebted to another girl instead of a hot guy. She could have gotten all competitive and stuff, and it would have been GREAT. Also the fact that this book in particular is severely lacking in strong female characters.

To be honest, most of the book felt like it was phoned in. I remember enjoying the narrative style in the previous series, but this time around, it felt oddly stilted. There seemed to be a lot of repetition, and they probably could have used a better editor. Or, maybe, since both authors are working on their individual series, they could have just let their series end with Beautiful Redemption and been done with it.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on how they basically brought their old bad guys back to life. Because it’s not like the Ravenwood family stretches for generations upon generations. Heavens no. Silas and Abraham are the ONLY possible villains.

I could go on for a while, but let’s just leave it as this: if you liked the original four Caster Chronicles, don’t bother reading this. You’ll just end up disappointed.

Rating:

2 interrobangs

It gets 2 interrobangs because the ending was cliffhangy as all get out.

Beautiful Chaos/Beautiful Redemption – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

The week before I went on vacation and the week-and-a-bit I was on vacation, I read two books that somewhat restored my faith in YA novels: Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption, the last two books in Kami Garcia/Margaret Stohl’s Caster Chronicles.

The last two YA books I read before these were disappointing and I worried that I was growing out of my appreciation for YA. And, while I still think I need to take a break and read “adult” books for a little while (starting in January because I have a trilogy of YA books sitting on my shelf that I just started and need to finish soon), these two books gave me hope.

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From Amazon:

“Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home from the Great Barrier, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected — and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What — or who — will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it’s not Lena — and the mysterious figure is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself — forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and he’s afraid to ask. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending.”
I won’t post the synopsis for the last book because it’s somewhat spoiler-y, but here’s the cover:
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I had mixed feelings about book 2 in this series, Beautiful Darkness, if only because they did the same thing so many other YA series insist on doing in book 2 or 3: the introduction of a second love interest, thus creating an angsty love triangle, even though you know in your heart that the couple from book 1 is meant to be together forever and you don’t know why you have to deal with this drama because it’s soooo obvious.
But the last two books were very well done and more than made up for the (in my opinion) unnecessary dramatics of Beautiful Darkness. I admit, halfway through Beautiful Chaos, I worked out the shocking realization well before Ethan (the protagonist) did, and about 20-30 pages into Beautiful Redemption, I figured out the series’ almost-inevitable conclusion. It was still interesting to see how the authors (and Ethan) got to the end, even if it wasn’t surprising.
I respect and admire how they took chances with writing story lines that you don’t usually find in YA (though part of Chaos reminded me of Harry Potter and the last Horcrux…), when they probably knew that it would kill their readers. I’m lucky that I’ve only been reading the series since last year, so I didn’t have to wait very long in between installments (I ordered the last two in one shipment so I didn’t have to wait at all!), but I imagine it was brutal to read the end of Chaos and know there was another year until Redemption. Those courageous plot points helped make these two books a very satisfying read and – for what it’s worth – gained my approval.
One tip though: I don’t know if it’s in the hardcover edition as well, but if you pick up Beautiful Chaos in paperback, READ LINK’S MINI STORY AT THE END. Assuming it was bonus material, I skipped it (also because I had 15 minutes to finish packing before leaving for the airport), only to find out that those events are constantly referred to throughout Redemption. So it would have been helpful if I had read it (though not completely necessary, I guess – it didn’t affect my overall understanding of Redemption, but it would have provided some extra detail).
Both authors have started new (separate) series. I’d like to check them out eventually because I did like their collective narrative voice, but I think I have to put a hold on YA for a while. (we’ll see though. I make the same promise to myself about once every 3 months and so far, I haven’t managed to stick to it).