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The Rift (Vessel of Souls) (Volume 1) Paperback – January 13, 2013
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About the Author
SKN Hammerstone is a Young Adult fiction author from Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school at the age of 16 she began her writing career and continued it through college.
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Well, until she died, came back, forgot most of her life and discovered that she's the prize in a game of tug-of-war between the warring factions of Heaven and Hell. Lesson for the day? Never say "It can't get worse." It will.
Rachael, instead of deciding what skirt to wear, what she's going to do about her biology final, and whether or not she'll learn to accept the love of her forever-best-friend Jesse, instead gets to be tortured by demons, discover the truth of her parentage while being locked in an insane asylum and watch the veil that keeps our reality from the assorted afterlives be torn asunder. That's before we bring in the avenging death angel who loves her almost against his will, the current leader of Hell's armies who has some scores to settle, a manipulative, talented and blind artist who also happens to be a Prophet and the previous Angel of Death, who's got her own plans for everyone involved. It gets very convoluted, very quickly. And Rachael used to think keeping track of which popular chick was dating what hot jock was difficult...
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the ride. I've got a few quibbles, but there are things to like here. Going down the list, premise comes first; the hostile semi-truce between the angels and the demons, all of them living together in (im)perfect harmony, was a fresh take on things, especially since God and the Devil are never directly involved. Sure, we have stand-ins for the top slots (in the form of Job and Raphael), but I always prefer a visible character with discernable motivation to an invisible "because I said so" sort. Gives us the opportunity to wonder if that's what the big players really want, or if it's just the agenda their minions are pursuing when they're not looking, and I've always enjoyed a bit of ambiguity.
Second; there's hardly any clear good or bad guys. One of my favorite shows is Supernatural and a large part of that was always that the angels can be bigger dicks than anyone, and the demons don't always have completely evil, inimical plans. The Rift echoes that, with several "half-breeds" fighting for the "good guys," angels (fallen, avenging or otherwise) who are more duplicitous and vile than the "monsters" they're fighting against, and fallen angels and dead souls who are actually trying to help.
Third: The last quarter of the book. Up to this point, it's following most of the standard romance tropes (or appears to be...) with angels and demons tossed in the mix. Most of it is presented in first-person (from Rachael's POV) with the "standard" confusion over her feelings and aversion to violence and conflict between her beaus (exacerbated by her amnesia and the manipulations they - and nearly every one else - commit against her.) That's all well and fine, for a certain audience. I am not that audience. Thankfully, the author kept me going with snarky dialogue and the occasional drenching with blood and torture.
SPOILERS FOLLOW. YOU WERE WARNED.
Then you're hit with the war. The real war. We are taken - quite rudely, I might add - out of Rachael's head, and have to view her more objectively as we are shown that she's not just some clumsy, self-loathing little teenager. Further, she doesn't become a strong and independent woman as the usual romance stereotypes would dictate.
She becomes a monster. A manipulative, heartless, bloodthirsty monster. And the author sells it, with great vigor. To be fair, it's not entirely Rachael's fault... she is only the monster that circumstances and certain individuals have made her become. She can't really be held responsible for her actions, and even when she can, there is a good reason for it; this gives a certain amount of sympathy towards her. But she is still a force of hate and destruction, unleashed on an unsuspecting world. I like it. XD
Then there's the war itself, with constant descriptions of the carnage from all angles (since we are free from being stuck in Rachael's head for this part), and gave an excellent depiction of a chaotic, crowded field as we followed most of our principal characters towards the endgame.
Last: The end. Well, except the last couple pages (and I'll get to that in a minute.) There's some interesting revelations to be found here; some predictable, some not so, but all of them suitably priming the reader for more (which sadly, we don't have yet.) Rachael's final decision and the consequences - as well as why she did it, as opposed to why she says she did - is a suckerpunch that has been set up almost from the beginning, so doesn't have the "I did it because... hey look, a penny!" randomness of some work's "twists," but the seeds were well-hidden and thus don't scream "Hey, this is how it's going to go down!" the whole time. Definite bonus points for that.
Now that part everybody hates. The bad stuff. I know, I know. But they have to be said.
First: I know I do this all the time - and I'm sure I'm guilty of the same offenses - but the language and grammar has some issues. A bit of punctuation clean up, a few adjustments to odd word choices, and this would become a non-issue. It's not totally out of control, though; it's certainly still readable and doesn't feel like the author was reaching for a thesaurus at random every five minutes, so not too much of a complaint.
Second: Dialogue. This was a little inconsistent; there are some amusing quotes to be found here, and there are times where it flows quite well. But a lot of the dialogue felt stilted and forced, with too much exposition and formal speech. This could just be my personal tic. Most of the characters feel as though they lack a unique "voice," or they don't always seem to have it. Several segments (especially later on, when more characters are speaking) had me rereading a page multiple times as I had to "recast" the scene so the correct characters were saying the correct things. I understand that not everyone needs or should have their own style - random grunt B only used in scene 83 for two lines doesn't need to be fleshed out completely, obviously - nor do I think every bit of text between quotes needs to be done phonetically or be riddled with weird terms and slang, but I do tend to enjoy it more when I can tell who's speaking without needing a "x said" after each line or needing to go up and count alternating lines.
Third: The last couple of pages. There's nothing explicitly wrong with the epilogue, per se. I just didn't feel it was necessary. Having an unknown voice pipe up and start telling us what amounts to a mixed recap/foreshadowing just felt a little forced to me. The last page before that (where a certain individual sits, gloats and schemes) would have been just fine as the stop point, in my opinion, with enough reasons for me to want whatever comes next. A certain plot element regarding Rachael and her future was clear to me without this unknown narrator beating me over the head with it. But that could just be me.
Overall, I enjoyed it immensely, and would say that anyone who wants to see angels and demons killing each other, who wants a different spin on the typical paranormal romance style (and honestly, I'd hesitate to call this one "romance," really; it has romantic elements, certainly, but unlike other works that will not be named, it has an actual plot, of which the love story is only an aspect of), or who enjoys their female characters to be more than the stereotypical "herp derp, I'm such a klutz!" or "I am woman, hear me roar" types should check it out.
Now, to tell you a little bit about the story.
Rachael Taylor attempts to commit suicide at the beginning of this novel, and succeeds, but it seems something or someone of a higher power out there doesn't want her to go just yet, since she makes a miraculous recovery and ends up in the hospital. The bad news, she has no recollection of why she got there, how she got there, or who she is. This is aggravating to anyone in that situation, right?
Well, how about if everyone was trying to keep you from remembering. Or at least telling you that you had to remember for yourself?
Rachael goes on a reluctant hunt to find out what has happened to her to make her want to welcome death so easily, but what she ends up finding out will not necessarily make her happy. In fact, she might wish she was still clueless.
Because the truth of the matter is, her life is involved in something much, much bigger than herself. And I mean GIGANTIC!!
So, after being sent to an asylum by her bleep of a mother, weirder things start to happen to her. Things involving people with glowing red eyes, guardian angels, and a strange woman named Elizabeth.
Can she handle the destiny that will soon be handed to her? Or will something happen to deter that destiny from becoming reality?
Again must gush about this book. I love it. It gets faster as you read farther and farther into the book, and I must admit that I read it in a day.
Totally recommended for anyone who loves books with angels and demons as the main characters.
Received this book in exchange for an honest review.
It didn't take long to get through this book. There were a few slight mistakes but not
enough to ruin my reading pleasure or take away the desire to read the authors future books. Enjoyable overall.
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The story line is alive and keeps you mentally engaged, never a dull moment.Read more