on April 15, 2014
Genres: urban fantasy
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads
VENGEANCE WILL BE HERS
Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?
With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.
Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.
In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.
This review is spoiler free. All spoilers have been hidden behind a spoiler tag.
Vampires are my favorite. They have been my favorite since I watched the very first episode of Buffy premiere at the tender age of 10. It’s been a lifelong love affair ever since. I don’t care about trends or vampires being played out or whathaveyou. I will always love them and will always want to read books about them.
I just loved that the Blood of Eden series was about a kickass vampire girl who was not afraid to feel. I loved that she was so strong yet allowed herself to be so vulnerable. I was a super fan of the romantic element from the beginning and I rooted for Allie and Zeke the entire way. Of course, The Eternity Cure ended in such heartbreak. I knew there were only so many realistic ways the plot could go, but I was still absolutely riveted to see what would come about. When it came down to the reading of it, it was somehow both suspenseful and predictable, yet still beyond satisfying.
And yet, this is the second book I’m reviewing in 2014 for which one of my major complaints is the repetitive angst. I think it is even worse here than it was in Half Bad. Haven’t we been through all of this already? Didn’t Allison spend a good amount of time agonizing about “being a monster” through both the first and second installments? Yes, she did. Kanin serving as her mentor helped her through a lot of that transition in the first book. And in the second she was too largely preoccupied to even be pondering such insignificant questions.
Aren’t we beyond that at this point? Yes, I understand that a truly traumatizing thing happened at the end of The Eternity Cure, but the seemingly endless waffling and wallowing was grating. It would make sense for Allison to be upset at what has happened, but her thoughts are just on a repetitive loop of,“I am a monster.” “No, I will not be a monster.” “No, it’s so good to give into the monster.” and then repeat loop. I found myself with little tolerance for it.
I would just like to state for the record that, should I ever become a bloodthirsty creature of the night, I would absolutely revel in it. There’d be none of this agonizing over my “monster” status. Oh, I am so ready. Take me away, gorgeous vampire sire!
Maybe Forever was always doomed in that it couldn’t possibly top the truly excellent The Eternity Cure. Maybe it’s unfair to compare the two. The plot here felt predictable and manipulated in a way that the second installment never did. There is one particular twist that rankled: View Spoiler »When Allie encountered Zeke in Sarren’s tower for the first time it did not evoke much emotion in me beyond the recognition that I was being manipulated by the author. It just seemed so obvious that when Allie was on her way into Sarren’s lair that Zeke would be the one Sarren left for her. My brain truly doesn’t work in a way that twists are easy for me to spot. So when I can see them I am especially let down. This is an example of that. « Hide Spoiler
One of my favorite aspects of Eternity was the extent to which we got to see the ruins of the US in Allison’s journeying. I truly can never get enough of wastelands! That is largely absent here. Allie and companions are on a single track to make it to Eden and stop Sarren. The world of Blood of Eden had expanded so much in Eternity. Here it just contracted, much to its detriment.
Now, I know that Jackal is a fan favorite, but I could barely tolerate him in this volume. He definitely grew on me over the course of Eternity, but here was wholly irksome. I’m almost certain that Jackal refers to humans as “bloodbags” in every other sentence in this installment. I have no over fondness for humans (sorry, humans), but it just seemed so amateur and over the top. Truly, it was juvenile.
This was the formula for the first third of this book:
- Allison broods and angsts about being a monster
- Jackal taunts her with the exact same gibes over and over
- Kanin ignores their inanities and calmly insists that they just keep on traveling toward Sarren.
- They then travel toward Sarren and continue bickering. Ad nauseam
It’s hard to talk about specific elements of this book without mentioning the character whose fate was in question as of the end of Book 2. I am going to put that under the spoiler cut. If you want to remain unspoiled do not click the spoiler tag!
View Spoiler »So. Zeke is a vampire now. I mean, it was always going to come to either that or some miraculous cure for vampirism would be found. I actually feared worse. I thought that Zeke would end up being rabid but that fear was unfounded. But again, there was so much angsting. Yes, we always knew that Zeke was not suited for the vampire life and would not deal particularly well with it. But, we’d already been through all of Allison’s angsting. Watching Allison watch Zeke’s angsting was just too much. Still, when they get over the emotionalizing they do seem to find themselves again and it is so enjoyable. Really! Allie and Zeke are still one of my favorite couples in YA and I just love them. I was so glad to see those two crazy kids work out their differences. Even if I felt that Zeke went from Sarren’s puppet to wholly recovered a bit too fast. « Hide Spoiler
There really were plenty of strengths for this book, though. As always, I just love Allison. She is such a strong and real character to me. Tough and capable, but with the right amount of vulnerability. Even with all of the overdone angsting in this volume I still hold her in the same affectionate regard I always have. One of my favorite things about Allie is that she cries a lot. I don’t find crying a sign of weakness at all. In fact, I think it’s brave to allow yourself to feel so freely. From series beginning to the very end, Allie’s character growth is astounding and I reveled in it.
Kanin also continued to be a favorite. What is it about those characters who say next to nothing and seemingly just as much? I think it is a strong testament to Julie Kagawa’s writing that she can create a character who reveals so little in either words or mannerisms, but who is so easily likeable and whose core being is so easily understood.
Another strong aspect of this book is that it does not shy away from the grim, dark world in which it’s set. There is much action, violence, and even some gore. Well, probably as gory as can pass in YA. I am a fairly squeamish person and can’t stand large amounts of gore in my reading, but this treads that fine line between delightfully gruesome and grotesque. Honestly, it’s appropriate and just feels right in this world. I would be questioning if there weren’t any subtle horror elements.
The only thing that I will say about any potential romantic element is that this is a Harlequin Teen title after all. Much to my everlasting delight, this is certainly the steamiest of the series. Other than that, my lips are sealed.
The battle at the climax did succeed in setting my heart to racing. There were moments of such sheer agony in the unknown of what would happen. There’s even a twist or two at the very end that I did not foresee. Perhaps most surprisingly, I very nearly cried. Books just don’t make me cry for some inexplicable reason. So when I get teary at a book you can expect that there is an emotional wallop indeed. We have been on a journey with these characters and the emotional impact of that comes full circle.
Although I felt that major plot points wrapped up just a bit too neatly, I was satisfied. When it come down to the last pages I felt the telltale ache, that not so subtle pang in my heart…I did not want the series to end. I didn’t want to let these characters go. I would love to follow them in any future adventures should Ms. Kagawa agree to scribe.
While often overly angsty and somewhat predictable, I still enjoyed this series ender a good deal. The characterization of both Allie and Kanin was strong enough to keep interest going throughout the book. Other unnamed (to avoid spoilers) elements of the series could easily slip into (and would be welcome in) any future volumes. This was really wrapped almost sublimely. Nearly all major questions were answered while leaving just enough wiggle room for a possible continuation of the series at some point. I fervently hope that we’ll see a return to Allie and companions some day.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.