Review: Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla

Shaedes of Gray
I’ve discovered that I’m not a big fan of a romantic connection being established prior to the start of a book. I don’t mind a preexisting attraction or a second chance, but I don’t like having an established connection plopped in my lap. I know I’m just supposed to go with it, but it’s hard. It can succeed if done well, but an author has to be careful to still provide supporting data to make me believe in the characters’ feelings instead of expecting me to swallow it just because it’s presented as a fact.

Such is the case with Darian and Tyler. They’ve known each other for five years and have been dancing around their attraction the whole time. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s very apparent that they are approaching the love end of things. I just didn’t understand why. I felt no connection between them; no tension. Tyler became pretty pushy and demanding toward Darian and her accountability to him—which was attributed to something that I can’t talk about for fear of spoilers—and I couldn’t help but draw back from his behavior. It felt presumptuous, to be honest. If I had more belief in their relationship and understood him better it might have irritated me less, but as it stands I felt repulsed by his gall and was irritated by Darian’s childish back and forth with him. Of course, the author throws in the obligatory love triangle, which seemed out of place and intrusive, not to mention kind of creepy, given her connection to that other guy.

Darian was my main problem with this book. I found the writing mechanical and the story rather boring, but all that paled in comparison to my issues with Darian. I can’t believe how irritating she was! She wasn’t strong or capable, although I’m sure I was supposed to think she was. She actually came off as childish and petulant. She would frequently blow up and never stop to consider the company she was in or the reaction it would bring. That wouldn’t be so bad if you were the baddest chick on the block, but she wasn’t. Her skills were laughable compared to the other people. She had a great reputation for assassinating humans, but she was a joke when stood alongside another supernatural creatures. I don’t have a problem with her being low man on the totem pole, but I do have to question her intelligence when she refused to recognize that fact. Her attitude and her behavior made it seem like she was trying too hard. She felt like a preteen trying desperately to prove how adult she was. What irritated me most about this was the fact that she was never called on her crap. Certain characters even seemed to admire her for her daring. It made them all seem ridiculous.

In addition to not liking her attitude, I also found her pretty dim. She’s been shaede for years, but she never bothered to research her existence? She was told by her maker that they were the last two in existence and let him put her off every time she pushed for more information about her abilities and what she was. But when he disappeared she never tried to find out on her own? She just went through the next couple decades oblivious, not stopping to consider that even if she was the last of her kind, there were other supernatural creatures out there as well? What??? Maybe it’s harsh of me, but that seems really dumb. She’s introduced to more of her kind in the story and blunders through their world, not even trying to learn the lay of the political land. At that point I gave up on her and concluded that it was a miracle that she had stayed alive that long.

I came close to DNF’ing this book quite a few times in the beginning. It was s-l-o-w and was nothing but tell, tell, tell. It’s written in first person, so we spend all of our time in Darian’s head. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for two things. One, Darian is not a very interesting or likeable character. Two, the writing style made it very apparent that Darian was narrating the story to us instead of us just watching her experience it. That won’t be a problem for all, but I find that style of narrative boring to read about. It inserts an unwelcome distance between me and the events of the story. Plus, I could have done with some more dialogue so I could have gotten a break from Darian. Obviously I didn’t DNF the book, though. I was interested enough in the idea of the world to push through and hope for improvement. Although the story could have used better worldbuilding, I ended up enjoying the setup enough that I gave it a D instead of an F.

Favorite Quote:

“You hired me to kill…you?” I asked incredulously, because, well, who does that?”

Rating: D
Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla 
December 6th 2011 by Signet
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    • says

      There are a lot of positive reviews out there, aren’t there? I got a bit of a complex when I first realized that. 😛 I hope you end up enjoying the book when you give it a try.

    • says

      I thought so too. I still really love the cover. The color tones are very striking.

      You might want to check out some of the positive reviews before you take my word as gospel. Like blodeuedd said, there are more positive than negative reviews out there.

  1. Jo says

    Huh, just finished this about half an hour ago and yep I had the same issues with it, The premise sounded great but the execution not so much, in fact it was nearly a DNF for me as well. I won’t go into detail as I don’t wont to spoil it for anybody but I did spend alot of time saying ‘for Gods sake woman stop with the tantrums and ask some half way intelligent questions”. Very frustrating, which was pretty much how I felt during the whole book.
    Oh and by the way I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t love this!

    • says

      I was yelling the same thing at my book, hoping it would pass through the pages and provide a miraculous change in her behavior. If she would have just stopped and thought about things logically, instead of going off half cocked all the time, I might have liked her a bit more.

  2. says

    First person is so tricky, because if you don’t like the person doing the telling then the rest of the book is hard to swallow sometimes. Your review makes me want to read it just to see if I would have the same problems with it that you did.

    • says

      Very true. It’s hard to enjoy a book when you don’t like the narrator. If you think of it after you read it, I’d be curious to hear what you thought of it.

  3. sara says

    Hmm, I think I’m still going to try this because I’m always on the hunt for urban fantasy (which is my favourite), but I can’t help but feel like the genre is stuck in a huge rut. Honestly, an assassin character does not feel fresh to me at all. A too-tough character who doesn’t recognize or respect her very real limitations is also very tired. Why can’t there be urban fantasy stories that aren’t about murders featuring pseudo-cops or assassins? It seems like so many urban fantasy authors are trapped in the mix of fantasy and police procedural or crime genres. Where’s the next fantasy crossed with military or cozy mystery, or even a classic fantasy ‘quest’ tale in a contemporary urban setting? That being said, it’s an author’s voice that makes or breaks a storyline, which is why I keep going back to the cliched stories. I’ve heard a lot of other reviews praise Bonilla’s voice so I’m crossing my fingers that it works for me.

    • says

      You’re right, there does seem to be a lot of the same out there lately. I don’t always mind, but sometimes I want something fresh and new.

  4. says

    I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one as well. With that said, I’m glad to read yours.I just finished a book with an extremely annoying heroine so I think I will pass on this one.

  5. says

    Hi Catherine, sorry you did not like the book. And like Blodeuedd says, I have only read enthusiastic reviews so far. But reading about why you dislike the book, well, I don’t have to hurry with picking it up. I’ll wait for a few more books in the series, see how they turn out. Thanks for the review.