Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date read: July 18 to 21, 2017
So this book.
It’s actually much better than the first one… but I kinda hated the first one, so that’s a very low bar to pass.
Good things first though, before I move onto the unsavory things.
Fast pacing, lots of action, interesting mix of sci-fi and fantasy, that comic-book feel from the first book is still here, and plenty of humor.
Imagine Kate Daniels in an alternate universe, one in which she had a normal, uneventful upbringing and has grown up to be a well-adjusted person who runs a private detective agency with some help from her family. Imagine Kate, but with parents, younger sisters, cousins, and a spunky grandmother who love her. That’s what I think this book is doing–imagining Kate in a world that’s more fun and with a lot less darkness.
Think of it as Kate without her past and burdan, running around Houston, having adventures, and saving people from megalomaniacs intent on destroying the world. Something like this should have appealed to me because I like Kate and I’m all for fun worlds, but somehow the execution doesn’t work here. Although I find this book much better overall than the first one, that’s not really an improvement because there’s this thing. I feel it hanging over every scene between the two leads, and it knocks all the fun right out. Maybe it’s just me though because loads of people seem to enjoy the writing just fine.
Another thing is the main character, Nevada Baylor, comes off as too young, and her gaggle of sisters and cousins are younger still, so you have extended periods in which the writing becomes too YA, filled with talks of high school, infatuation, dating, trends, social media, and the list goes on. This was too much for me, but you know, personal preference, your mileage may vary, and so on and so forth.
If any of that sounds mildly interesting, you might want to give this series a try.
* * *
* * * * spoilers abound * * * *
What I do like about this series, and why I came back to it even though the first one fell flat, are the covers. Because just look at ’em…
How could anyone resist. #gloriousness #nosarcasm
The running joke here is Ilona Andrews’ main characters never look the same from book to book. I’m not sure if that’s the publisher’s thing, or if it’s an author-specific thing. Either way it’s delightful. Absolutely delightful.
Before the spoilers commence, there are two things I kinda need answers to:
- Does it bother anyone else when “magic” is used as an adjective when “magical” already exists?
- How much do broken ribs hurt, even after taking painkillers? And how likely is it for someone with three broken ribs to engage in energetic sex after approximately 36 hours of breaking said ribs?
Asking for a friend. And for science. Obviously.
So what are these books about, apart from their amazing covers?
Behind those muscles, there is an urban fantasy tale with comic-book flavoring. And of course a billionaire romance thrown in–for fun! So much fun! #nosarcasm
The world, and Houston in particular, in present time is run by select families (“houses”) who are filthy rich and super-powered and they’re all maniacs. They hoard wealth and power by controlling every damn thing in existence. There’s an interesting power dynsmic going on, but the biggest obstacle for me in this series–yes, even more so than the Fabios on the cover–is order.
How is there any semblance of order in this world? I don’t get how, in the midst of all this chaos, with the houses dividing up into factions and declaring war on each other, the US of A still has a working governing body with various branches of the military and law enforcement in working order. Well, “in working order” might be a stretch. I guess they’re more like crowd-control than actual law enforcement, but still, it’s mentioned that there’s some law and order in this place–the Baylors do run a detective agency and they seem to have clients. I just wonder how all this works (or doesn’t work), is all.
Are there prisons? What kind of prisons could hold a super-powered psychopath? Once again, asking for a friend and science. It’s mentioned in passing that the bratty arsonist from the last book is currently held in an ice prison in the arctic.
Short of death, are there no lasting punishments for the super-powered?
(Un)Fortunately, the majority of citizens are not super-powered, and so they often end up as cannon fodder, like in every single superhero story. I should also mention there are varying degrees and control of powers. The most powerful are called Primes. The lesser powered also have respectable names, but we all know they’re of little consequence in the grand scheme of things.
Nevada Baylor is a truthseeker–she can tell when someone is lying, and in this book, her talent has advanced so much that she can force the truth out of people, even Primes. For some reason, lie detecting is a much sought after talent, so much so that she goes to great lengths to hide what she can do. Knowing when people are lying is an asset for her line of work, but I’m not convinced it’s as valued as much as the book wants us to believe.
The love interest, Mr. Muscles there, is billionaire Mad Rogan, a super Prime, a Prime of Primes, because of course he is. He’s basically Curran minus the shapeshifting ability. And he’s got that domineering personality and an army of military-trained people at his beck and call, not unlike Curran and the Keep. For some strange, unexplainable PNR reason, he’s drawn to the truthseeker. They began a bit of a romance in the first book while chasing that bratty arsonist around the city, but the almost-fling dropped off at the end, and silly me, I thought that was it for them. But of course not. They’re back together in this book and let’s just say things are hot and heavy. And cringe-y, but that’s mostly for me.
I should also mention the first time they met… he kidnapped her, brought her to a dungeon, and then proceeded to torture the truth out of her, all because he suspected she was working for the arsonist. If he hadn’t found her “interesting,” he could have easily killed her and disposed of the body, and no one would ever have known. But since this is a romance, she fell head over heels. Sadly, I’m not kidding. There was resistance and rationalization on her part and some regret on his part for the kidnapping and torture, but then he threatened to kill her family literally in her house because of course he did. But he was only kidding??? I don’t get why there wasn’t more resistance, more push back from her, or why this had to turn into a romance. WHY.
This whole ordeal was made worse by the fact that he’s a billionaire Prime who literally could have leveled her house with her family still trapped inside, and there would have been no consequence. She and her family would have been dead, sure, but he would still be an asshole billionaire Prime with the world at his disposal. Nothing could touch him. Once again, I must say I don’t see what everyone else sees in these books. They’re fun when taken out of context, but I can’t seem to remove the memories of the kidnapping and torture.
On a more lighthearted note, there’s a spitting image of Saimon in this book too, emphasis on the spitting part because this character is a Prime illusionist who can take any shape, and his specialty is other people. He appears to have an interest in the truthseeker, but the interest is fleeting and more business than personal.
If this hadn’t been a book club pick, I don’t think I would have picked it up. I like that they remind me of Kate Daniels and that’s about it. I mean, they aren’t bad and you could literally pick worse books from this genre. If they work for you, you’re in for a ride. But if they don’t… there are just so many things you could pick apart.