8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Like Reading the Rough Draft,
This review is from: The Darkest Surrender (Lords of the Underworld) (Mass Market Paperback)
I love this whole series. But. I can honestly say that this is a book you could skip. Move on to the rest of the series without reading this one. Its contribution to the overall story arc is minimal. The characters are sucked away from the fortress for events that basically take place in a vacuum, and the three sentences it would take to summarize the important plot points that you'll need to know in the future are undoubtedly going to be in the next novel anyway. The only reason to read this book would be to savor the experience and the particular details of how things unfolded, and you can't do that with this book because if you try to savor the details you'll be disappointed. The plot is there, but the details are lacking. I would suggest NOT buying this book. Wait for the next one, and buy that one instead. Just skip this one.
I think G. Showalter is a fantastic writer. But. Reading this novel was like reading the rough draft of what was going to be a spectacular novel, after the editors had helped her clean it up. Only, nobody ever cleaned it up. I say that because there were a lot of ideas just thrown onto the page (especially in the last 1/3 of the book) without being really incorporated into the story. The old rule of writing: "Show us, don't tell us," was being violated left and right. There was a lot of summary, a lot of shorthand, a lot of interactions that were cut really, really short; almost like a topic sentence for a scene was just included in the book AS the scene. Instead of seeing things happen, we 'saw' a character summarize what happened, after the fact. This distanced the reader from the tension, action, and passion, and made the novel seem... halfhearted. Unfinished. Pale. Lacking.
I was intrigued by Kaia in the previous books, and wanted to read her story. The heroine's pain over being rejected resonated with me (haven't we all had our hearts broken once?) and I wanted to stick it out for her, but the writing deteriorated as the story went on. The passion and romantic tension and fear of rejection and everything that would have made this story exciting, and touching, and emotionally alive, was so washed out and dead that it wasn't satisfying to read her story after all. I would have been better off just imagining how they got together, and skipping this book.
The thing that really bugged me the most - the thing that crossed the line between 'Not the best' and 'Have to warn other people to skip it' - was that a bunch of new things were just thrown into the story at the end without any warning. Events that we hadn't 'seen' in the story were thrown in afterwards as a really cheesy, clumsy way to resolve issues that had come up. Like: "Oh, I forgot to tell you about this inheriting magical abilities thing that never came up before... Oh, I forgot to tell you about my dad, it's actually really important... Oh, I forgot to tell you, that guy who tried to kill you is actually a really nice guy... Oh, I forgot to tell you, I knew that these bad guys were following you, so I took care of it already.... Oh, I forgot to tell you, we got married, a few pages ago, while you were unconscious... Oh, I forgot to tell you before, but I already figured that out before now, because I didn't tell you about it, but I felt this memory... Oh, I forgot to mention, but I knew all along that they would kidnap me.... Oh, I forgot to tell you, you were given a magical potion when you were a baby that somehow solves about five issues you were having with your dad, so, don't worry about being kidnapped! This magic potion also solves the magic abilities issues people were asking about! Great potion! No idea what it was ...Oh, I forgot to tell you, this was really all part of my plan all along, and I arranged everything... Oh, I forgot to tell you, there are magical guards stationed all the way around us, at a distance of several miles, so we are both utterly isolated and utterly safe... Oh, I forgot to tell you, I'm fireproof... Oh, I forgot to tell you, you were actually so badly wounded you were dying, back there.... Oh I forgot to tell you, I was on fire a few pages ago, but I didn't give up, because I love you enough to burn for you... Oh, I forgot to tell you, I took control over the Hunters, for no good reason, at the beginning of the book." These are people who have been hanging out together, without full time jobs, for hundreds of years. And apparently, in all that free time, they never mentioned a LOT of stuff.
One or two revelations would have been fine, but it was like every issue that they had in the last 100 pages was being resolved in this really lazy, clumsy, repetitive way: "Oh, I took care of that a while ago..." It wasn't even exciting. Some of it didn't even make sense. Reading the last 1/3 of the book was like reading the SUMMARY of the book. It was driving me NUTS! Especially since some of the scenes that were skipped over would have been really great emotional romantic scenes if they had been written out and included in the storyline at the time they happened. Like when he was burning, but loved her enough to endure it? Why couldn't we see that happen? It would have taken three sentences at the end of the scene we already had in the book. Instead, it is tacked on 20 pages later as a 'by the way, back when that happened? I was burning.' Compare "She was badly wounded, she fell asleep." And then later "By the way, I saw that you were dying, so I married you to save your life," with what we COULD have had, if the author had pulled out all the stops and written the scene as it happened, with the girl passing out, and the guy realizing that she's dying, and despite his earlier hesitations about an immortal commitment he can't live without her, and he slashes himself open and holds her to him, and it's not about sex, it's about love, and he has to give her some of his strength and tie them together forever. I know this author could write a blockbuster scene, because she's done it before, so why didn't she do it? And it would have been so much better than surprising the reader later with a quick throw-away line "By the way, back when you were injured? You were actually dying, so, we're married now." What was that?! Give us the goods!
The other thing that bugged me - and this was also a 'rough draft' issue - was that sometimes the heroine or her narration would say things about harpies in general that are not consistent with what we know about harpies from previous books. Like "Harpies couldn't fly, they could only glide, so she would have to climb the cliff hand over hand, exhausting herself," or "The men were on the other side of the room, whispering, so she couldn't hear what they were saying," or something like that - where a limitation on her abilities advanced the plot - but from previous books we know that harpies CAN fly several miles, up a mountain, while carrying two people at at time, and harpies CAN hear your heartbeat from outside your house if they listen for it. I know LOTU is a big universe and sometimes details get lost, but this is annoying because several times these mistakes about harpy abilities are a central part of a necessary plot device, so the plot ONLY works because of this mistake on the author's part.
Everything taken together makes this feel like an unfinished novel, or a rough draft. Don't bother reading it for the plot - because what little you need to know will be in the next book anyway - and don't bother reading it to experience a richly drawn story, because the details aren't there. This is the only LOTU book you can skip, and I suggest skipping this book to save yourself the frustration and disappointment.