Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Emblaze by Jessica Shirvington

Title: Emblaze
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 415
Rating: 4/5 Stars

I finished this book nearly two months ago and while the major reason for my tardiness in reviewing is simply my amazing ability to procrastinate, it actually has a lot to do with my very mixed feelings about Emblaze. 

The story is great and Shirvington does her usual amazing work at spinning a tale full of emotion and mythology as well as a healthy dose of ass-kicking action. Violet must once again risk life and limb to protect her fellow Grigori - as well as the entire human population, basically - in a race against Phoenix who wants to get his mother, Lilith, out of hell. This time, however, it's a lot more personal as her best friend Steph becomes a pawn in the game.

Shirvington took us to Jordan in Entice and this time around we get to check out Greece. I definitely enjoyed Greece more than Jordan - maybe because I was imagining beautiful mediterranean waters instead of miles and miles of sand and rock. There's apparently a Hellmouth in Greece - to use BtVS terms - and the Grigori want to keep it closed at all costs.

Which of course means, it opens.

I wouldn't have it any other way, of course.

New characters of note in this book - Josephine and her ninja-like bodyguards. Josephine is from the Assembly and she's super annoying, but impossible to truly hate because she IS one of the good guys.

Even if she really doesn't seem to like our heroine all that much.

Josephine is also dangerous and Violet has to be supremely on guard around her lest the secret of her evolving abilities gets out.

Irin, the Keeper, is a really shady, gross new bad guy who runs the island on which the Hellmouth exists. He has an agreement with Grigori in that if he keeps the local exile populace under control, they will stay away. I liked him because, well, I always like shady, gross characters who muddy up the waters.

Violet's dad makes an incredible nuisance of himself, finally deciding to actually parent his daughter. I'm sure that Shirvington wants to paint him in a sympathetic light, but I went from apathy to outright dislike when it comes to him.

I felt the same way about Buffy's mother Joyce, to be honest. Parents who only care to parent when their children are a problem.

Last but not least, we get to meet Violet's mother, Evelyn, risen from the mouth of hell along with Lilith. Violet's antagonistic attitude toward her surprised me, but Evelyn came across as pretty abrasive, so she can hold her own. As a reader I know more about Evelyn than Violet does, so I suppose I should cut her a little slack.

A little.

Basically, the story is great, like I said. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns. My lack of enthusiasm in reviewing comes down to the issue I've made no secret about since book one and that's my dislike of Lincoln.

I still really, really dislike Lincoln.

I still see the way he loves Violet as a weakness - not the fact that he does love her, but in the way Shirvington has him express it. I'd dealt with his and Violet's nauseating relationship because I thought that the story was going to be a true triangle with Phoenix.

After reading this book, I'm no longer sure of that and I find it really disappointing.

What makes it worse is the fact that Phoenix gets his own POV chapter in Embrace and it's paragraph after paragraph of his true motivations and feelings for Violet - loving her, thinking of how she could have been the one to give him a place to belong, a family, made life worth living for him, etc. And there's SO much Violet doesn't know. So much truth she doesn't even have an inkling of when it comes to Phoenix. It's the stuff star-crossed lovers are made of, not this contrived nonsense between Violet and Lincoln.

But that said, all signs seem to be pointing toward Violet and Lincoln being the couple to root for which just confuses the hell out of me. I've never seen an author approach character or relationships like this. Phoenix and Violet get the character development while Lincoln is on the sidelines, typically brooding and unhappy.

It's just weird and not in a good way.

I intend to keep reading the series because three books in I'm invested in more than just the romance and I really do enjoy the characters - literally all of them except Lincoln - but I'm going to do my best to disengage from the romance.

I need to lower my expectations and hopes and just look forward to Phoenix on his own.

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