RATING: 3.5/5 stars.
Summary–Eric is a Shade, a denizen of the darkness that coexists with the real world. The darkness lives in constant combat with light, but that may be ending soon. A prophecy stated that Eric is the First Descendant, one who will clash with the descendant of light and end their war. This is great news…except, of course, for Eric. He doesn’t want to fight and die simply because someone said so a long time ago. He’s already had casualties from this war and would rather be off on his own, spending time with a mysterious new Shade, a girl unknown and unregistered, with powers Eric has never before seen.
Jessica is the new girl in town. Adopted, but now returning to the place where she was born, Jessica wants to look into her birth parents and find out just what happened to them. It won’t be a pleasant journey, but her lab partner, Eric, isn’t making things any easier. But the closer she gets to him, the more she sees, and the more she sees, the more danger she is in.
Star-crossed teenagers intertwine in this young adult story of love and survival, and finding out which of the two is more important.
THE STRENGTHS: Being a supernatural romance book, it could have easily spiraled into a whirlpool of terrible cliches, but Thompson avoids them rather well. There’s the dark boy, but he’s more grumpy and frustrated with his lousy lot in life than just mysterious for no reason. Jess is the new girl and could easily be a Mary Sue, but she seems quite normal. The two don’t magically fall in love because the script says so, they actually do life together for a bit, and that’s what separates a good romance from a bad one.
The Dark part of the story is quite interesting. Eric’s oncoming battle with darkness makes him powerful, but also a target. There’s some good tension and some decent setup for the rest of the series. The fight scenes are good and many of the descriptions of darkness are quite nice.
The ending is the best part, however. That’s what earned the extra half star for this review. Obviously, I can’t tell you what happens, but it all comes together nicely and hits all the right notes, resonating after the final page is turned.
THE WEAKNESSES: The Dark side of the story worked well, but the Real World felt weak. Here’s where the cliches hit, and it all felt like a story we’ve heard before. The mysterious boy, the new girl in town, the quirky friends who appear out of nowhere, the prom. It’s not all necessarily bad (although those quirky friends irked me more than once), but it just feels familiar. The Dark World had a whole story to tell, but the Real World just tagged along.
There’s also a lack of description in too many places. The rules of the world aren’t quite set up, a lot of the backgrounds are missing, and the reader can easily feel out of the loop a few too many times to be comfortable. It feels like the author had it perfectly pictured in her head, but it doesn’t always translate to the page, so the reader is left to try and figure it out themselves, but not in a good way.
FINAL THOUGHTS: While the book does stumble in places, it soars in others. The core elements are good and clear (the main characters, their romance, the dark story, the fight scenes, etc). But the farther you get from the focus, the fuzzier the details comes (some settings, past details, side characters, etc). However, the writer did well with what really mattered, so I do give it a positive review.
This is the first of a trilogy. The next one, Seconds Before Sunset, is slated to come out in the Fall of 2013. The third, Death Before a New Day, is scheduled for Spring, 2014).
CHRISTIAN RATINGS (cuz it’s who I am and what I do): PG-13
- Language/Profanity: 3/10 (Some Hells and such, but nothing fierce)
- Violence: 5/10 (Fantasy fight sequences and some blood)
- Sexuality: 2/10 (Some detail on a guy’s shirtless scene, but that’s the max)
- Substances: 2/10 (A reference to underage drinking, but nothing happens on-screen)
- Mature Themes: 3/10 (Musings on death and killing are frequent themes).
Shannon A. Thompson is a fellow blogger here on WordPress who blogs all about books and writing. Find her at shannonathompson.com
She has also written a novel called November Snow and a she was featured in a poetry collection. Click Here for more info on those.
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