I finished this book last night and I’m still conflicted. I honestly don’t know whether I liked it or not. It’s one of those grey books that leaves you with murky feelings and makes you wonder if you should check out the next book before you make up your mind.
I found this book really hard to get into. The writing felt distancing, although it became apparent to me later that this was on purpose, and I didn’t warm up to the characters easily. The world itself was a little hard to figure out, but I eventually got a handle on all the particulars of it—I still struggled until the end, though. I really think this book spent way too much time trying to be mysterious and not enough time on development.
The new world is filled with Shredders and Intel dogs and Text speak (which was seriously like nails on a chalkboard for me) and it got a little confusing. I didn’t understand that why’s of it all. I got that old people—or at least old compared to the new desirable age group—were no longer acceptable and that the hubs had turned into a wastrel’s paradise, but why? I still don’t understand how society got to that point. And when exactly did the vampires and demons and werecreatures come into play? I got the impression it was around the time everything else went to hell, but this wasn’t explained at all. I eventually shrugged it off, but it still continues to nag at me. Maybe we could have just had a quick opening page/prologue offering a quick explanation to ease us in?
In the beginning I didn’t like Gabriel very much. I found his motives for following the mysterious Abby less than sympathetic and was a bit repelled by the way his vampirism was presented. I suppose I prefer my vampires more controlled and sexy and less easily swayed by bloodlust. It’s all right, though. I adjusted to how it was presented in the book. I eventually came to appreciate his struggle to be more than just a monster and was sympathetic to his search to find Abby as more symbolic than not. He ended up being the most well developed character in the book and I found that he was really the only one I found sympathetic, other than the oldster, when the book ended.
The book was slow and grim and felt a bit claustrophobic because of being stuck in such a small area with so few people. It didn’t help that those people were prickly and secretive and getting any information out of them was like pulling teeth. I’m honestly surprised that it didn’t bother Gabriel more than it did, because it drove me nuts. I had a really hard time adjusting to the narrative style changes the author employed. In Mariah’s pov it was first person but in everyone else’s it was third. I did not like this, but I know that’s not going to be the same for everyone.
Midway through the book I started to get tired of the lack of information and deliberate mysterious air the author was employing. It became tedious and irritating. I knew exactly where it was going and I was tired of character development being circumvented by the distance necessary to achieve that air. After all was finally revealed toward the end, we ended up getting a huge infodump to bring us up to speed on all the information that had been kept from us. It made a lot of behaviors and situations make more sense, but it didn’t really change the fact that I spent most of the book bored with the way it was written.
There is a romantic arc in the book, but it doesn’t end with a HEA or even a HFN. Gabriel ends the book fulfilled in one sense but absolutely destroyed in another. He’s going to have to work through a lot of things before he can even like Mariah without feeling conflicted. I think it’ll be the same with me. I didn’t like her much when the book ended, and not much before that if I’m being honest. I found the romantic development we saw to be sad and not really romantic at all. It felt more like a creation of close quarters, desperation and loneliness, and a difficulty controlling the monster, than anything actually tender or soft. It was interesting to watch develop, but I can’t say I’m invested in any way.
I’m not sure if I will continue with this series or not. It’s not one that I can out and out recommend, but it’s not one that I can not recommend either.
“Don’t ask me to explain, but I’ve had my time with evil. Every one of us out here has, and that’s why I’m glad Stamp’s men are dying. Bad guys deserve their comeuppance, and they sure don’t get it back in society. There, unchecked greed is rewarded. Out here, it’s punished, and that’s why you don’t go outside if you’ve got something to answer for. That’s the way of the world here.”