Saturday, August 18, 2012
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
I read this book in nine days! That probably doesn't sound like much of an achievement, but considering it took me six months to read Drood, my nine days with Obsidian feels like the blink of an eye.
I really enjoyed Obsidian. Jennifer Armentrout spins a delightful little science fiction tinged romance between her two main characters that I'm looking forward to continuing in Onyx. To be honest, I almost bought Onyx before I even finished Obsidian - that's how certain I was that I wanted to continue to explore Katy and Daemon's world.
I don't like to bog my reviews down with plot details, so I'll get right to what works and what doesn't.
Works: the characters. Human or alien, the characters in Obsidian are relatable and real, fueled by the same basic desires as the average teenager - love, friendship, to fit in. I think what Armentrout does best is keep these desires from crippling her characters. Everyone feels doubt, love, loss, joy, anger, etc, but very few people allow those feelings to rule every aspect of their lives and Armentrout recognizes that.
I really appreciated that Katy wasn't some paragon of virtue, too perfect and pure to be real. Does she have a problem with drinking? Nope. Does she want to get in a car with her homecoming date who's already two sheets to the wind when he picks her up for the dance? Hell no. Katy gets angry and embarassed, she has a temper. She'll take shit, but she'll also dish it out with zero qualm. She stands up for herself, but she isn't an overbearing, overly sensitive bitch. When it comes time to be a hero, she rises to the occasion to save her friends, but she doesn't have a deathwish.
Best of all, when she and Daemon start getting their sexual tension on, she doesn't spend chapters doubting the fact that he's attracted to her.
Speaking of Daemon...he's awesome. He's a dick, he knows it and he doesn't care. And he doesn't change. Sure, he's got layers and goodness hiding beneath that hot, surly exterior, but he is who he is and while he softens around Katy, he's still Daemon. I love this. It makes the handful of scattered moments when he becomes completely vulnerable so much more interesting. I also love how unapologetic he is about protecting his family. Why yes, Katy, he will throw your ass to the wolves if it comes down to you and Dee.
I like that a lot.
I enjoyed how Katy and Daemon's relationship progressed. They're good looking people, so their attraction was pretty immediate, but their journey beyond the physical was/is slow. They drive each other crazy and don't spontaneously combust by the end of the novel into a happy, schmoopy couple.
The war between the Luxen and the Arum was a nice, if somewhat shallow, backdrop for Katy and Daemon's love story. The presence of aliens provides conflict and keeps Katy in Daemon's sphere, but it doesn't go much deeper than that. If you're looking to learn about a race of aliens, get to know their purpose and goals, then Obsidian will disappoint you. The aliens and their fairly typical powers are not the point.
The plot points that Armentrout explores via Katy and Daemon are your typical high school/teenage expriences. There's no ground being broken here, but that's okay because the characters are engaging. I was perfectly content reading about the same trevails of high school as a hundred other YA books because Katy, Daemon, Dee and the rest kept me entertained.
Now onto what doesn't work.
Honestly, there's nothing in Obsidian that doesn't work. There are aspects that could be explored more (see above) but there isn't anything that truly fails in terms of story and character development. I have a personal issue with all of the book blogging talk - not the fact that Katy is a blogger, but the fact that Armentrout is so specific about memes and whatnot - but that's just me.
That said, I really feel that Entangled Teen let Armentrout down in terms of editing support. My copy of Obsidian is not an ARC copy and yet some sections have so many typos that it actually pulled out of the story. The grammar in certain sections leaves a lot to be desired as well.
I don't fault Armentrout for that.
In my opinion, authors need to have a working knowledge of grammar and punctuation, a command of language and a vivid imagination that they can translate onto the page. They do not, however, need to be perfect and hand in a polished manuscript that's ready for publication on the first try. That's why editor's exist. Editors are supposed to find the typos and find the areas where grammar isn't perfect or word choice is shoddy. They are supposed to look at sections of the book and say "you know, you could use a little more description here and clarify your character's intentions there". They are supposed to help their authors bring the best possible version of their vision to bookstores and ereaders around the world.
I don't know what happened here, but Entangled totally dropped the ball withObsidian and as you can see I'm kind of pissy on Armentrout's account because of it.
Frustrations with Entangled aside, I am very excited to not only read more of the Lux series, but also more of Armentrout's work as a whole. I like her characters enough that I really just want to see them play.