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White Winter (The Black Year Series) (Volume 2) Paperback – July 17, 2016
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About the Author
D.J. Bodden is a former Marine Corps pilot currently working out of Geneva, Switzerland for a coffee trading firm.
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The characters develop well, particularly the lead, who's growing isolation along with coping with the changes in himself and in his responsibilities are quite believable and at some points, heart rending. Some of the other characters have just enough hints at their backstory and inner turmoil that it's difficult to want to stay with the current story and not wish the story branched off to that character instead, particularly the lead's mother.
The action is tight, flows well, and keeps the reader involved without losing them in the minutiae or dropping into simplification that would leave it dull. Some of the characters remain a bit undeveloped; something that will perhaps change in future stories.
The ending leaves the story in a place I did not expect, despite the plot following along exactly where I thought it would. Humor is injected where appropriate, and nothing takes you out of your suspension of disbelief while reading, and I'm definitely quite eager for the next in the series.
If you've read it's predecessor and didn't like it, this book won't fix that for you. This is still part of a 'coming of age' story set in a modern 'supernatural' world. But if you did, this story takes you for a good ride with enough suspense, mystery, humor, and emotion to wrap you up in it and hold you there until the conclusion.
I'm not without some criticisms. The timespan of the book is difficult to follow; it seems to jump in order to skip over what would presumably be repetitiously boring training and avoid filler, which is honestly appreciated but left me unsure about the timespan covered. Some of the characters still feel rather one-dimensional, but aren't very important to the story at this point, so it would be difficult to fill them out without wasting the reader's attention. The plot does seem to follow enough tropes that you'll likely be able to predict the conclusion about half-way through the novel, but there are still points of surprise and the world left afterward is starkly different than I expected it to be, which is a welcome difference and should leave the author with more freedom to wander from the well walked path, so to speak.
All of this is alleviated if you don't go into the story with an expectation of great literature, but instead of a fun story full of interesting characters that you'll want to spend more time with.
Typically, I don’t read or like most YA, but despite Jonas’ age and relative inexperience, I like the kid. He’s not whiny or entitled (both of which I hate in YA), and a broad cast of characters that feature some salty former military personal, balance out the YA feel nicely. As with Black Fall, White Winter has a full cast of secondary characters—Eve, Jonas’ girlfriend, for example—but, for the most part, they feel fleshed out and not extraneous, which is a hard trick to pull off.
The World: The world building was great. Though you do see most of the same standard urban-fantasy creatures—vampires, werewolves, demons, and a spattering of others—they are all uniquely different from other types you’ve seen out there. The supernaturals work for, and are policed by, the Agency: a shadowy, covert organization that has a compact with the highest levels of human government—doing unpleasant black ops and, in return, being left mostly alone. There are also human hunters, folks who have stumble across the supernatural and actively seek to protect humanity at large.
The Story and Writing: As with Black Fall, this is where White Winter really shines. First, Bodden is a great writer—his use of language is clear and concise, never getting bogged down by over-writing, purple-prose, or overly-pretentious literary style. The man’s got a story to tell, knows what he wants to say, and doesn’t beat around the bush. I envy that in his writing. The story itself is also intriguing and fast paced, mixing in dashes of humor and hints of deep emotion. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with White Winter—it’s a solid follow-up to a great debut and I look forward to seeing where the series is headed.
The Rating: Four and a half stars (though I round up for the purpose of Amazon). A strong follow up that offers something quite different to a stale and often annoying YA market place.
The good news: Just like with Black Fall, the fight scenes in White Winter are epic, and there are about a million times more of them as Jonas, Kieran, and Eve grow into their new roles at the Agency. Guns, grenades, hand-to-hand, mind-to-mind, teeth-to-teeth, and magical showdowns—DJ Bodden pulled out all the stops in this one.
The great news: White Winter also has about a million times more heart. Somehow, in the moments between all the fighting, DJ Bodden finds time to develop the relationships he set into motion in Black Fall, then he proceeds to use those carefully woven relationships to break your heart into a million pieces.
The only bad news: Red Spring isn't out yet, so we're all going to have to wait on the edges of our seats for it. Maybe if we all get together and bug the author nonstop that will speed things along.
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by D.J. Bodden
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In Black Fall, Book 1 of D. J.Read more