Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike

There aren’t many books that can make me angry.

Ironic? I don’t think so. While there are a lot of books that make me sad, a lot of books that make me happy, and a LOT of books that bore me to tears, there is rarely one that gets me so pissed off I can’t see straight. I mean really: How am I supposed to be pissed off when most of the authors I read just don’t know any better?

Let’s be real here - the things that annoy me in books are usually the cliches, the tropes and the constructs which the author repeats over and over again without any real thought about the meaning of it all. Need character development? Just add rape. You need to make your characters drop their barriers and become emotionally involved? Near death experiences, or attempted rape would do the trick. Wanna make your bad boy suddenly sweet and loveable? Add a cutesy younger sibling and/or elderly parent for them to be the caretaker of. They don’t do it maliciously, mind you. But it works! It’s paint-by-numbers easy, and why reinvent the wheel when it clearly does a good job?

Problem is, you CAN get paint-by-numbers wrong (all of those tiny 6 and 9 are a bugger on the eyes) and we HAVE reinvented the wheel. Several times, actually. We changed the materials, for one thing, and we use it in a lot of machines. Some people are probably finding new uses for it as we speak.

What I mean to say is, I get it, Julie. I really, really get it.

But this is your seventh book out. You should know better by now.

If you read around the YA blogosphere, the name of Julie Kagawa will probably crop up at some point or another, either in relation to her Iron Fey series, or the Blood of Eden, which started with The Immortal Rules and continued with The Eternity Cure. In relation to the latter series, you will also hear a lot about how badass the female protagonist is, how awesome Julie is to return vampires to their dark roots, how dark and cool the whole series is…

And yes, The Eternity Cure is that. It is all of those things. It’s cinema in book form (which must be pretty convenient for the production team.) It’s a big bag of popcorn with coconut butter which you finish in one go while the commercials are still running - it has the exact same nutritional value, and will probably make you just as queasy.

Oops, didn’t I use the same barfing metaphor in my review of the previous book? I must be getting unsubtle with my old age.

So what is the plot? Well, after delivering Zeke and the others to Eden, Allie sets out to find Kanin, her sire, who is currently in the clutches of a mad and powerful vampire. On the way, she meets Jackal, another one of Kanin’s children, and the two team up to save him in spite of the fact that their end goals are VERY different. Jackal, in spite of the events of the previous book, quite likes Allie, and wants her to stop pretending to be a human, embrace her vampire nature, and rock the unlife by his side.

Then shit goes down. A lot of shit, and as is the habit with this series, it’s super-entertaining. Unfortunately, Kagawa is so focused on the action, she forgot the character development scenes in the bin again. Again, since this was one of the issues I had with the first book.

For example: Jackal and Allie have to go cross-country, but thanks to the magic of the time-skip, we don’t see any “minute” adventures they have along the way. And yeah, okay, that’s good in that it prevents the reader from losing the main plot, but it also means that we don’t get to see any key character-building moments. Allie goes from despising Jackal and everything he stands for, to defending him almost overnight. And yeah, I know it wasn’t overnight in book terms, but it sure as hell feels like it.

But this is stuff I could (and do) forgive in other books. In fact, I’ve forgiven this in books that are much less entertaining. So why am I so hard on Julie?

Because Julie knows better.

For one thing, not all of the book is flat and boring. There’s plenty of scenes that have held me on the edge of my seat. Nearly every single one where Stephen is present, for example, sizzles with tension and poignancy. Kanin’s are great too. Jackal, who is clearly the Lestat of this series, owes the shit out of every scene he’s in; and he brings some much needed ambiguity in Allie’s world of cut-and-dry moral boundaries.

Unfortunately, this only makes things worse. Kagawa introduces all of these interesting themes, and then only barely scratches the surface - just enough to show you glimpses of what this book could have been, and make you wonder why it never came through.

Even if I rated this book for potential (which I don’t, otherwise Hades would have gotten a five-star from me) the ideas and themes are really just continuations of what happened in the previous book. And the problem with that is that Allie already completed that character arc - getting comfortable-ish with her vampire nature. It was done - she had had her revelations and was doing what was right. Why are you beating that dead horse when you clearly can’t take the time away from your plot to develop your characters, Kagawa?

And to top off that little sundae, we have the ending two chapters, which pretty much give the finger to not only the first book, but the whole of the second as well. Really, Julie? Really? It wasn’t enough have your main character go back and forth like a ping-pong ball, you actually want to have your cake and eat it too? No. Just… no. Enough with the cop-outs already. If you wanna have a big moral horizon moment, than have the balls to go through with it.

I’m done with this.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.