Series: Firelight #2
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Read it in: 2 days
Source: The library
CAUTION: RANTING AHEAD. (Not the whole thing, but I had a lot to get off my chest with this one lol)
First I need to say just how much I love the covers for these books-- I really liked Firelight's, but I think I like Vanish's even more-- and when you put the two side-by-side, it's just like, **wow.** Love them! So now we know what Jacinda and Tamra look like, I wonder who we will be seeing on the third cover?!
Alright, so now onto the actual story.
The number one reason that I enjoyed Vanish so much more than Firelight was because I accepted some basic truths about the series before I started reading:
Truth #1.) It is a teenage love story-- therefore yes, there will be angst, love triangles, whining-and-pining, hormones galore, and lots o' drama.
Truth #2.) It will be cheesy as all get out-- embrace it and enjoy.
Truth #3.) It will not be a high-fantasy adventure with lots of battles a la Lord of the Rings. Deal with it.
Now with Firelight, I had assumed that this series was going to be something totally different than what it actually was, which led to a lot of ranting from yours truly. But I wanted to give the series another chance. So as I started reading Vanish, I told myself: "OK, I'm just going to enjoy this story for what it is instead of trying to turn it into something its not. Embrace the teen angst and love triangles and Mary Sue-esque main character!"
And you know what? Once I did just that, I started to appreciate the series a lot more. Now that is not to say I won't be indulging in some mild ranting here-- like with Lauren Kate's Fallen series, I liked reading Firelight and Vanish, not so much for their literary merit, but more because they're purely entertaining. Maybe that's unfair of me, but I'll try to fill you in as best I can on what I did and didn't like about this latest draki drama-fest.
So Vanish begins with Jacinda, Tamra, and their mother being taken back to the draki pride after the whole face-off with the hunters at the end of the first book. Jacinda-- the pride's only fire-breathing draki-- is in deep trouble for not only revealing herself to hunters, but also for falling in love with Will, one of the hunters who kill draki for their skins. Once taken back to the pride, Jacinda is treated like an outcast and her mother becomes depressed for making the mistake of leaving in the first place. And then Tamra, Jacinda's twin sister, is revealed to be-- oops! I'm not saying, that would spoil the BIG surprise in the beginning!! You'll just have to read it for yourself ;)
First of all, I think that most of the characters seemed much more multi-dimensional in this book than the first one, and we really get to see their strengths and weaknesses and more interaction between them. Cassian became much more vulnerable and likable while Will became a whole lot more of a controlling and manipulative jerk-wad. I really can't decide which I like or dislike more to be perfectly honest, but I don't understand at all why Jacinda is so convinced that Will is "it," when there is nothing there between them but physical attraction-- Cassian cares about her just as much, if not more than Will does! Sorry, I just don't get Jacinda's head-over-heels fascination with Will. He's kind of a creep-- and the only major connection they shared in the entire book was a make-out session that I'll talk more about in just a minute...
Second, the relationships in Vanish became a lot more interesting-- Tamra is still in love with Cassian, but Cassian only has eyes for Jacinda, and Jacinda only wants to be with Will-- she thinks! Love triangles abound, and I found that if I just accepted the whole love triangle plot line instead of getting annoyed with it, I actually started to enjoy seeing the dynamics play out between all the characters. I was also really happy that this story took place in the draki pride and not so much in the human world, like the first book did (This was my biggest beef with Firelight).
Finally, this book transitioned extremely well from the first one-- I never felt lost or confused about what had happened in Firelight and thought that the plot ran very smoothly and was easy to follow from one book to the next.
Oh yes, that is a big however.
I have some things I need to discuss about this book-- some large, glaring things that just beg to be addressed.
I know I said I accepted Jacinda, the Mary Sue draki, but still, I'm going to rag on her a little. C'mon now, I swear it's all in good fun.
Why, you may ask?
Because I have no clue why everyone is so in love with her.
Cassian's obsessed with her, Will's obsessed with her, Corbin's creepy-stalker obsessed with her-- and do we know why? Nope! Not really. She's a fire-breather, but other than that there isn't anything terribly special about good ol' Jacinda. She's whiny and angsty and pretty darned selfish. She likes to fly, which doesn't seem too out of the ordinary, considering the fact that she has wings. The only other thing she does in her spare time is sit around and watch TV and occasionally cook dinner. Oh, and fantasize about Will. No other hobbies, special talents, desire to help others... I wish we could see something interesting or fierce or noble about her, but really all we have are endless angsty descriptions about how she wants to live her own life and be free and independent, while in the meantime she makes incredibly stupid decisions that get her and everyone else in deep trouble.
Oh yes-- and she whines and pines about Will. A LOT.
Also, the draki pride really, really annoyed me. As a group, they made zero sense. I mean, first they're dead set on clipping off Jacinda's wings with a pair of garden shears because she's put everyone in danger so many times, and next thing you know they're leaving muffins on her doorstep when she does what they want by bonding with Cassian. Kind of ridiculous in my opinion.
ALSO, despite my great attempts to start loving this series, I have to mention my numero uno MAJOR dislike-- which goes for any book-- and it's called the "To Much Information Love Scene."
Yes, I know that Sophie Jordan writes adult romance novels-- complete with your run-of-the-mill covers featuring shirtless guys with rippling muscles (oh yes, they ripple) and doe-eyed gals who look like they're about to pass out...
I just wish she left all the hot-and-heavy action OUT of her teen books, because I'm seriously not interested in reading detailed accounts about people getting it on. If I wanted to do that, I'd go pick up some 99-cent Harlequin Romance in the check-out line at the grocery store, you know?? Lines like "his warm palm a rasp on my cheek as he swallows up my moan" and "the mere texture and taste of his mouth completely devastating me" just make me want to vomit. **Blech!** Please, spare me the details, this is waaayyyy more than I want to know!
Oh, and it only gets better...
"My body cradles his, instinctively welcoming him. I breathe a greedy sound, not even thinking we might be moving too far, too fast. There's only need. Hunger. I'm tired of being denied." ~p.202
Really??? Seriously?!? Please just gag me with a freaking spoon. Dearest fellow readers, if you're like me and can't stand the TMI love scenes, I recommend just skipping chapter 20 altogether... I mean really, Jacinda actually starts growling while they're making out. And then Will starts growling right back.
Not speaking-- growling.
And breathing greedy sounds.
I'm not making this up, so please humor me here and tell me this is freaking weird. Growling??? Is this supposed to be sexy or romantic or something? Because it just makes me think Jacinda and Will need to go to the doctor's, maybe get on some meds. Not hot. Just ridiculous to read about. Sorry, maybe it's just me-- but I don't want to hear about moaning, growling, swollen lips, tender spots-- just yuck.
In fact, you know what? I'm taking a whole star off just for the TMI make-out sessions. Yup, sorry, it's my review, and that's how I roll.
That's what you get for grossing me out Jacinda.
(I think for the heck of it I'm going to try breathing some greedy sounds a little later today and see what happens-- my guess is I'll scare the living bejeezus out of some random people... sounds like fun.)
And another thing-- repeat yourself much?? There have got to be like half a dozen recycled lines in these books, all of them slightly re-worded but basically stating the same darned thing over and over (and over) again.
I can think of a few right off the top of my head!
"I could feel my inner draki."
"I tensed and had to release my inner draki."
"About 300 more interchangeable lines about MY INNER DRAKI."
"I could sense Will nearby."
"I missed Will. He loved me for me."
"I missed Cassian. He loved me for me."
"Don't leave, he GROWLED."
Shall I go on? No, OK, I'll spare you.
And last but not least, I thought the ending was frustratingly anti-climactic. The last half of the book was building up to some big, action-packed event (which I won't give away) and then in the last few pages we learn that, oh sorry! You'll have to wait to see what happens in the next book because CLEARLY two books can't contain THIS much awesome.
So we'll end this one with Will and Jacinda sitting around a campfire eating Twinkies.
No, I'm not making this up. Will and Cassian roll on the ground for like 15 minutes and a less-than-menacing black bear makes a brief appearance for about 2 paragraphs-- and that's pretty much the extent of the action in this book.
*****Alright, so now that I've gotten all that out of my system (and have tried numerous times to erase the memory of Jacinda and Will growling at each other), I will conclude with this-- When you approach a book or series with preconceived notions about what it "should" be, and then it turns out to be something totally different, I think it's important to re-think what the book is trying to accomplish. Otherwise, you'll probably end up annoyed and disliking it because you tried to force it into a genre that it's not even in. But if you can appreciate the book simply for what it is and not for what you think it should be, it becomes a lot easier to just enjoy it. (Did I mention I did actually like reading this book? Yeah, I know, I like ranting too...)
So I embraced the cheesiness. I embraced the angst-iness. I embraced the Mary Sue-ishness. Yes, I still ranted a lot, but making-out aside, Vanish was still a huge improvement over Firelight, with greater character development and a refreshing change of scenery. I admit that this series is growing on me and I am looking forward to the last book in the trilogy!