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I had a hard time getting into this one but the sequel was fantastic
on April 9, 2012
If I were to rate the first three-quarters of this book, I'd give it a two star rating. The last quarter however would get four stars, so I'm going to compromise and give the book 3 stars.
I had such a hard time getting into this novel. It had a lot going for it - likeable characters, hints of mystery, and interesting world building.
The protagonist, Scout, is sarcastic, and fun and I thoroughly enjoyed her relationship with her brother, cousin, best friend, and little sister. The romantic lead of the story, Alex, is also admirable. He has an interesting back story, only hinted at in this story that leaves us wanting to know more about him and his enigmatic older brother, Liam.
What I did not enjoy was Alex and Scout's relationship. I felt the author took every cheesy high school romantic fantasy cherished by girls everywhere and crammed them into her story. We have the different, somewhat geeky, social outcast girl, and the new transfer student who is oh-so-incredibly-hot-and-dreamy that for some unknown reason is utterly obsessed with her. Through a series of very fortunate and unrealistic events, they end up coming together and falling madly in love. Their secret torrid romantic affair can only be described as utterly sappy and gag inducing. I lost count of how many times I groaned and rolled my eyes throughout this story. I even read certain particularly cheesy passages out loud to my husband so he could laugh at my pain.
This love story is Twilight 2.0 but not as well executed. In addition to the sappiness, another thing that made this romance fail where other equally cheesy love stories succeeded is the fact that both of the people involved seem utterly perfect as characters and perfect for each other from the very beginning. There was no character-driven friction (just outside friction from family members), no realistic build-up of romance, no suspense. In the absence of flaws and friction, characters end up feeling wooden and the romance between them comes off as utterly unrealistic. These aren't characters I cheered for, I didn't bite my nails hoping they'd end up together, or swoon when they kissed the first time, because I just didn't care.
With such an inauspicious beginning, I almost quit reading the book numerous times, but in the end, I was glad I persevered. There are some rather huge, and fairly traumatic things that happen at the end of the story. I'm assuming these changes caused some readers no end of sadness, however I thought the end was fantastic, and it actually gave me hope for the series.
Having read both this book, and the second novel, I think Destiny Binds suffers from first-book syndrome. The author's writing style, and skills improve greatly through the series. The awkwardness of her prose, and formulaic approach to romance are completely gone in Time Mends. That story is markedly more complex, and interesting. I think it just took Ms. Blackwell a bit to find her stride as a writer. So, if you are an adult, that enjoys YA fiction, this series might be worth a shot. Just skim through the first 75% of the first book and you'll be in for a treat with book 2.