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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review: Rapture

Author: Lauren Kate
Series: Fallen #4
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Pages: 448
Source: The library
Read it in: 3 days

Summary: The sky is dark with wings....

Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.

Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this — live only to lose Luce again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies...and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.

And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her — and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters.

In the fight for Luce, who will win?

Rapture is the astonishing conclusion to the Fallen series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.

 LC's Take:

The epic conclusion to the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.  

And by epic, I mean the following:

1.) Totally ridiculous
2.) Painfully cliche
3.) LOL hilarious for all the wrong reasons
4.) Convoluted beyond all human reasoning
5.) Inexplicably addicting in a *slightly* unsettling yet delightful kind of way

Yep, it's been a looooooong time coming for this one guys. Fallen was the first book I ever read and reviewed on LC's Adventures in Libraryland so you might say I have a bit of a soft spot for it-- but that doesn't mean I won't respectfully rip it to shreds where needs be. 

OK, so let's just get right into it. Now, after three ranting reviews for the previous 3 books where I gripe at length about this series, a lot of you are probably wondering why the heck I even bothered with the last one. Well, my relationship with Fallen is complicated. I love it and hate it at the same time. The main characters are beyond aggravating, the dialogue is so cheesy you have to wonder what planet they're from where people actually talk like that, the romance is completely dysfunctional, and I lost track of the plot about 800 pages ago. 

So. My reasons for reading this book? 

A.) Figure out what the flying fig newton all of this has been leading up to 

B.) See if Luce becomes less of a brain-dead idiot and Daniel becomes less of an ass-hat, and 

C.) Find out if the entire series could be redeemed by some miracle in the last installment. 

~Brief Summary~

I'm going to try and not give away any spoilers for those of you who are just dying to read this series or haven't finished it yet, but here is the gist of things: Luce and Daniel have been falling in love, over and over again in every lifetime, for thousands of years. Daniel is a fallen angel and Luce is just a normal girl-- except for the fact that in every lifetime she ends up bursting into flames the minute Daniel and she kiss. Bummer, right? So in the last book, Luce went back in time through a bunch of her past lives to figure out why she and Daniel are cursed and try to fix things. Along the way, she met this little gargoyle named "Bill" who was shady as f*** and who turned out to be the devil in disguise [Note: This really wasn't that big of a surprise-- it was actually pretty predictable-- so I don't feel bad about giving that much away]. And now good ol' Lucifer has plans to basically wipe out the last 7,000 years of human history because Luce didn't destroy her soul at the end of Book 3. (Why does the Father-of-All-Evil have it out against Luce and Daniel? Beats the crap out of me-- none of this was explained until about the last half of the final book...) So, in Rapture,  Luce, Daniel, and their other angel friends have NINE DAYS to find out where the original Fall of angels took place when God threw them out of Heaven, effectively stopping Lucifer from carrying out his diabolical plans to destroy life as we know it. 

Confused yet? Join the club.

~Three Things I Liked (sort of)~

So first off, I have to say, there were aspects to Rapture that pleasantly surprised me; even impressed me in how well they were done--you know, compared to the craptastic first three books. So let's start off with the positives:

1.) The descriptive language was good. Like, really good. For all the ick I find in these books, I have to hand it to LK, she is pretty talented when it comes to providing readers with rich, vivid descriptions of the scenes playing out-- and Rapture more than any other book in this series is a testament to her ability to do this. Kudos on the scene-setting Lauren, it really was beautiful.

2.) There was FINALLY a sense of urgency in the plot that was completely missing from the last three books. Fallen, Torment, and Passion were not only painfully slow but they seemed to be going absolutely nowhere. By the end of the third book, I was so flipping confused I had a headache. But Rapture managed to capture my attention because it had a direction-- things happened and things were explained. Was it a water-tight plot? Not so much, but thank the Good Lord Almighty, there was at least action!

3.) I can't rave too much about this because it was only a slight improvement, but both Daniel and Luce were *marginally* more likable in this book than in any of the previous ones. What I could NOT stand about these books was the totally unbelievable and dysfunctional relationship between Luce, the desperately-clingy and dumb-as-a-rock female character, and Daniel, the chauvinistic jerk-wad who constantly belittles and pushes her around. This was ever-so-minutely improved in this book, BUT I still have plenty to say about how sucky the two of them are overall, so stay tuned.

OK so those are the good things about Rapture-- three things that resulted in my three-star rating. Now onto the fun part!

~Ten Things That Sucked~

So what didn't I like about Rapture? I've already elaborated at length about the many aspects of this series that made me want to knock my head against a wall-- repeatedly-- so I'll spare you and say that if you're really that interested, go check out my past three reviews. But more specific to this book and how the entire series wrapped up, here are my thoughts on the parts that seriously blew:

1.) According to this story, Luce and Daniel's love is the most epic, mind-blowing, knock-your-socks-off love ever to exist. The very beginning of good and evil all originated because of their love. The fate of Earth and all human history basically comes down to them. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY??? I still have no idea. WHY is the love between Luce and Daniel so stinking profound that everyone and everything hangs in the balance because of it, and legions of angels are willing to fight and die over it? There is absolutely NOTHING exceptional about either Luce or Daniel-- they are in fact pretty darned boring-- and their relationship is beyond mundane. In the entire length of this series, not ONCE have I found anything remotely grand or real about Luce and Daniel's "love." Not once did I go, "Aww they're so cute!" or "Shucks, I hope I find someone that dreamy someday." On the contrary, they're both hopelessly self-absorbed and their relationship is at the best of times awkward, bland and generic, and at the worst of times abusive, dysfunctional, and in dire need of Dr. Phil. 

2.) Luce was the same pathetically useless, boring, and wimpy lump of oatmeal that she has been throughout the whole series-- I could see where LK was trying for some character development in this last book where Luce finally gained a backbone-- but honestly it just didn't happen. There were parts in this book where Luce was so freaking pathetic that I wanted to slap her across the face and scream, "What is WRONG with you?!" Here are some examples that nearly sent me up in flames of rage:

SCENE #1: Luce and Daniel are going after one of the ancient relics they need to find out the location of the Fall from Heaven, and Luce has to swim under water to get to it because it's in a sunken cathedral. Well Daniel can't go into the cathedral because it's sacred ground and he's a fallen angel, so he stands guard outside of it to make sure Luce is OK. But THEN he swims away and just leaves her there. Sh-yeah!  LEAVES HER THERE UNDER WATER IN A FLIPPING CATHEDRAL TO DROWN. So Luce-- the girl Daniel supposedly would risk Heaven and Earth for-- nearly dies because Ass-hat Daniel abandons her. And when she makes it back up to the surface and tries to ask where the heck he went, this is how it goes down:

"What happened to you?" [Luce] cried. "I almost--"

"Luce," he [Daniel] warned. "shhh."
Whoa, whoa, hold the phone. Are you freaking kidding me? The girl is trying to find out why her boyfriend almost let her drown and he's telling her to "shhhh"?!? 

I'm pretty sure that makes him the biggest butt-face known to man, but of course, Luce being Luce, she let's it slide and doesn't seem to be at all miffed by the fact that Daniel abandoned her underwater to fend for herself and almost die. No biggie right?

SCENE #2: Near the end of the book, Cam (who happens to be one of the only likable characters in this series) goes to talk to Luce and sort of smooth over their rocky past. All Luce can do is practically have a brain aneurysm because she's freaked that Daniel is going to see another guy talking to her. Heaven flipping forbid.
"She wanted to leave. What if Daniel looked over and saw her in this dim cave with Cam? They were arguing, but Daniel wouldn't be able to tell that from a distance. What did they look like, she and Cam?"                                                                                                      ~p.319
Now, let me make this clear-- there was nothing shady going on between Luce and Cam, this was a totally platonic conversation they're having-- and Luce is scared to death that her psycho-jealous angel bf is going to flip a crap if he sees her with Cam. There's something majorly wrong with this, no?  

SCENE #3: This was my favorite-- I was reading this and just wanted to set the book down and start a slow-clap for Luce after this:
"Now, tell me who you are." [Daniel speaking]

"Well... I'm Lucinda Price. I'm the girl you fell in love with."

Daniel's violet eyes filled with tears. He whispered: "More."

"Isn't that enough?"                                                                                                   ~p.327

Really Luce? Really? Isn't that enough? Why are you such a pathetic loser? How is it that after this entire time you still have about as much self-confidence and identity as a ball of lint? The fact is that up to the last few pages of this series, Lucinda Price is still absolutely nothing without a guy to fawn over, and she sees herself as having no value beyond what that guy thinks of her. It's just sad. And makes me want to wring her neck to be quite honest. "Isn't that enough..." GAWD!!

3.) While we're on the subject of how cray-cray Luce and Daniel's "relationship" is, another thing that really bothered me was the fact that there was absolutely no true feeling or passion between them. Nada. Which is nuts, considering that one of the books was titled "PASSION" and their love for each other is supposedly off the charts. But no-- the heat-factor was somewhere between tepid and 1950's-style frigid. There is one point where Luce is embarrassed to tears just standing in front of Daniel in her underwear. What the crap?! This is the guy you've been madly in love with over and over again for thousands of years, who you're willing to lose everything for, and very well might, you potentially have nine days left to be together-- and you don't do anything. I'm pretty sure that any normal human being with blood pumping through their veins in the same situation would be getting it on like bunny rabbits, but the only thing we get out of Luce and Daniel are a few totally lame kisses that were about as sexy as a lima bean casserole and dialogue that was so awkward, I felt embarrassed for them. Their relationship was completely artificial and I was not once convinced that they truly loved one another. End of story.

4.) There is pretty much no continuity in the writing, or the plot, or the characters. In anything. Seriously. Go back to Fallen where we started out in a reform school in rural Georgia, and I have no idea how we got from Point A to Point B. It's like they aren't even in the same series. Yes Luce and Daniel were slight improvements in this book, but they acted nothing like they have throughout the rest of the books. This makes me think that the author really had no idea where the story was going so she had to fudge everything as she went. Maybe that's a jerky thing of me to say, but that's just how it came across.

5.) LK killed off one of the only likable and semi-intelligent characters in the book. I won't say who, but dude really?! Couldn't you have killed off Luce instead lol.... just kidding. Kind of.  

6.) The ASPARTAME.... in diet soda..... was created by GOD..... and it has magical properties to HEAL ANGELS. 

I-- my God, I have no words. 

I swear I'm not making this up.

7.) When you get right down to it, the plot still made absolute ZERO sense. Lucifer, the Creator of Evil, is planning to re-create the Original Fall, so that he can effectively wipe out 7,000 years of human history, and it all boils down to the love between Luce and Daniel. OK, um... what?? How, why, and what the hell does this have to do with anything? I'm sorry but I. Just. Didn't. Get. It. I mean at times I thought I was catching on, but to be perfectly honest with you, I could not explain the course of action and how it unfolded or why it unfolded the way it did to save my life, probably because it was EFFING CONFUSING AS HELL. And nothing was ever clearly explained. The whole thing about a "key angel" tipping the scales between Heaven and Hell, the reasoning behind Luce and Daniel's "romance" and how it set everything in motion, just everything was so convoluted and off-the-wall nuts. I don't know, maybe I'm just a total idiot, so please, if you are a semi-intelligent person who actually understood what the hell was going on from Book 1 to Book 4, please leave me a point-by-point explanation in the comments-- I would greatly appreciate it.

8.) I cannot tell you how many times the other supporting characters talk about Luce as though she's freaking Daenerys Targaryen on steroids. And I, of course, just couldn't help but shake my head and laugh, because they're all like, "Oh Luce, you are such a strong person! So tough, so brave!" And I'm thinking, did you see Luce in the last three books? Are we talking about the same person?? Are you guys drunk? She's a total idiot! There is absolutely nothing about her that is strong or brave and if I ever came to be as pathetically attached to an a-hole boyfriend as she is, I would probably go jump off a cliff. Luce brave, yeah OK Lauren, nice try. It doesn't matter how many times you have your cast singing praises about Luce being Wonder Woman, you can't take a totally bland and unexceptional character who has "Mary Sue" written all over her and try to make her sound like a Mensa-acing Navy Seal just by having everyone else say that she is. Her actions were not smart or brave, just clueless and sad.

9.) The dialogue. Holy crap, it was painful. Like, I don't know how the book went through to publishing with some of this hockey dialogue. Cheesy is the understatement of the century, it was just that bad. Half the time the (teenage) characters talk like they're straight out of 1842 and the other half is soppy back-and-forths between Luce and Daniel that were so stinking awkward I was cringing. The villain dialogue was equally hilarious, and while it provided me with a few laughs, it did nothing for the rest of the story.

10.) OMG the ending. It was so unbelievable cheesy and sooooo lame and anticlimactic, I don't even know where to begin. But here was what I loved most about it-- remember how I said that the plot was insanely confusing and I had no idea how LK was going to wrap things up? Well get this, because I have to admit it was totally brilliant: GOD Himself comes onto the scene and yells, "ENOUGH!" and all major action stops, and then we get about 25 more pages to quietly explain away any other major complications. I swear to you, I am not making this up, THAT is how the whole series and all its conflicts and convoluted loose ends were neatly tied. Well played, LK, well played. That was quite the crafty move to wrap up this humdinger of a series.

So, final verdict? Well, believe it or not after all this ranting, it actually wasn't as bad as it could've been. I'm glad I finished the books and got to see where everything ended up, even though I still have no idea how or why anything happened the way it did. There were parts to this book and the series overall that were good, but in the end it just didn't deliver. Entertaining, yes. Good writing with good story and interesting characters, hell to the freaking no.

**Final note-- and THIS IS HIGHLY IMPORTANT!! Also, highly immature and inappropriate. You have been warned. I need to throw out a big thanks to SKB on Goodreads, who is a total girl genius, for her invaluable tip on reading these books-- and I'm going to pass her secret on to you guys so that you can enjoy them infinitely more as well, because it is flipping brilliant and I love you: Every time you read the word "wings" in this series, replace it with "balls."  I promise you, it will have you rolling on the ground in tears laughing. 

You're welcome :)

~Cover Talk~

I definitely love the final cover in this series. It's dark and ominous, but very beautiful at the same time. I love how the softness of Luce's dress stands out against the jagged rocks, and even though the colors are mainly gray and black, it still catches your eye. I think it also goes back to the super dramatic and Gothic cover of the first book-- Fallen's cover will still remain my absolute favorite.  I only wish I could take the actual story inside as seriously as I do these gorgeous book covers!

LC's Rating:
Its been a long and bumpy road with the Fallen series, but Rapture managed to pull it off and end things on a fairly positive note. Yes, there were nearly a dozen things that really annoyed me, but overall Rapture made for a good ending to an otherwise very confusing and frustrating series.

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