Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: Hades by Alexandra Adornetto

Goodreads review, last updated September 11, 2011

I... I ah... I can't even... What am I supposed to say here? This is just one of these books you knew, going into it, that you were never going to like it, and yet, after you finish it, you remain with a sour taste in your mouth. 

Of course, that begs the question as to why I bothered reading it in the first place (in fact, I expect that question soon), and I will adress it... later on. Let me tell you, pure masochism has little to do with it.

On the positive side, Hades is better than its predecesor, as far as plot and pacing are concerned. There is a clearly defined antagonist, clearly defined stakes that get bigger as the book progresses, not to mention there is an inciting incident early on into the story (In other words, something happens).

But while the book is better plot-and-pacing-wise, the writing still suffers from the problems in Halo: adjectives and adverbs litter the text whenever a description or a simile didn't cut the trick, along with a case of telling-not-showing that I suspect can be classified in a genre of its own.

Xavier never liked Maddison much. She drank and smoked too much and always gave her opinion when it wasn't wanted.(Hades)

Alright, point out the problems in these sentences. One by one, please and take turns, children, everyone will have a say.

Yes, Bethany is telling us why Xavier doesn't like Maddison, and yes, a lot of us might slightly be offended, but it's not just the character telling us what another character is. It's the author telling the readers what they should think. Xavier is perfect, so obviously his opinion is paramount, so if he dislikes Maddison for drinking and smoking and being outspoken, then the reader MUST dislike her as well. Of course, Adornetto doesn't stop there and does her very best to make Maddison seem as asinine as possible to cement that opinion.

That's a huge strike against Hades, if only because many of us have been a little like Maddison as teenagers. Outspoken, I mean, although I have had my share of alcoholic experiments at seventeen. 

But it's not just that - stories stimulate us on many levels, igniting our imaginations and making us live within them. Mindless or high-brow, a story makes a reader THINK and draw their own conclusions and opinions about it, and about its characters. What I mean to say is, authors shouldn't insult our intelligence by telling us what to think. Or at least, they can make it so that the MC's initial impression of that character was flawed and that they had some more depth.

Speaking of depth, I would like to express my disappointment with the women in this book. Yes, Bethany is probably the easiest target, but what about Asia, and all the jealous bitches she epitomizes? What about Hanna, whose traits are subservant, tortured and repentant? 

What about Molly? Her character, in particular, frustrates me to no end. She had so much potential! She was actually faced with a real crisis, and she could have grown past her image of a sex-crazed adolescent. Instead, she remains as short-sighted and silly as ever, a fact which is hammered into the reader's head again (Scount Mints?) and again (reapplying lip gloss while a serious conversation is happening) and again (whenever Gabriel is around). Maybe I could have bought it in Halo, where she was just a girl and the stakes weren't so high, but not when she knows that Gabriel, Beth and Ivy are angels! I mean that's your best friend's life hanging on the line, get serious girl!

In fact, the only reason Molly seems to exist is to push a relationship between her and Gabriel, which pisses me off to no end. For the love of... the age difference alone should be enough to put people off, but there's more. Those two characters have absolutely no chemistry. At no point does Gabriel show that he has any special feelings for Molly, which makes her confrontation seem completely irrelevant and out of left field. Seeing those two interact is like reading every other stalker/stalkee romance in the genre, only with the roles reversed, and if Gabriel does turn out to have feelings for Molly, I'll just /CENSORED/!

Even putting aside the fact that their 'love' is probably the most implausible thing in the entire book (and that's saying a lot), there is still the matter of how women are portrayed - they can either be slutty, meek, weak, or love interests, there is no middle ground, and none of them seem to play a vital part in the story. Ivy, a bloody seraphim, can't stand on her own two feet after an exorcism, while Gabe can not only hold her up, but help Molly while she's vomiting in the bushes. Wow!

Do I even have to get started on Bethany, the biggest hypocrite of them all? I'm not even angry with her, I'm just sad. In one of my status updates, I speculate about an alternate universe where Beth is human and was just adopted by the angels. Not only would that explain her weakness and lack of knowledge, but it would make her a lot more likeable character. Adornetto obviously tries to make Bethanie a relatable character, but she's a freaking angel! She should be able to hold her own against the forces of darkness, take action, be proactive. If she were human, her desire to be with Xavier would be understandable, as well as her thirst for a normal life. The whole graduation scene is about leaving childhood behind and starting life as adults, but Bethanie is an angel, she shouldn't care about that. 

I've been talking about this for too long, so let's just wrap this up. Hades is definitely better than Halo, but not by much. Whatever strengths it has in the plot and pacing are lost on the eye-poking writing, plotholes and horrible, horrible characters. It honestly pains me to write this because the author is so young, but you know, I'm tired of making excuses for her. 80% of the population want to be writers and there is a good reason why only 2 make it to publication - stories don't just need to exist. They must have a reason to be told, and that's why I keep on reading - because stories have to be read. But Adornetto's characters are already perfect - they don't question the status quo, they don't even attempt it. There are no twists, no self-doubt, no real self-examination. They go nowhere, and learn nothing, and that's ultimately what the problem is. 

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