Monday, April 29, 2013

One Step Closer To The Larger Cure We All Sought

This review is for those who have read or are familiar with the previous book, The Immortal Rules, or don't mind knowing some spoilers for it. The Eternity Cure, however, will remain spoiler-free.

The Eternity Cure
~The Eternity Cure~
Blood of Eden
Book 2
By Julie Kagawa
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

How do you face the end of eternity?

In Allison Sekemoto's world, there is one rule left: Blood calls to blood

She has done the unthinkable: died so that she might continue to live. Cast out of Eden and separated from the boy she dared to love, Allie will follow the call of blood to save her creator, Kanin, from the psychotic vampire Sarren. But when the trail leads to Allie's birthplace in New Covington, what Allie finds there will change the world forever—and possibly end human and vampire existence.

There's a new plague on the rise, a strain of the Red Lung virus that wiped out most of humanity generations ago—and this strain is deadly to humans and vampires alike. The only hope for a cure lies in the secrets Kanin carries, if Allie can get to him in time.

Allison thought that immortality was forever. But now, with eternity itself hanging in the balance, the lines between human and monster will blur even further, and Allie must face another choice she could never have imagined having to make.

I'm so glad I gave this series another chance. If you'll remember my review of book one, The Immortal Rules, I harped on Allie and her motivation (or lack thereof) pretty hard. Yet I was still captivated by the world and the writing style, and thus expressed my hopes for its sequel(s). So when NetGalley knocked on my door/inbox with the offer of book two, I gladly accepted.

I'll admit starting out that I had some heavy reservations against this book. I considered re-reading book one, as I like to do before moving ahead in a series, but couldn't bring myself to push through the boredom I'd already gone through once. And the beginning of this book presented me with a few cases of missed opportunities that had me worried. But after the story got going, familiar faces appeared, and the action ramped up, I found myself enjoying this more and more.

Picking up almost exactly where The Immortal Rules left off, Allie is now hunting for her sire, Kanin. Very little time has passed, maybe a couple months, but there's no doubt that Allie has changed (for the better, in my opinion). She's been exposed to the highs and lows of both humanity and vampires, and is still seeking her place among them. But her existential quandary is put on hold for the moment as her blood-tie to Kanin shows her that his time is running short, so it's road trip time for our heroine as she chases an obtainable goal.

Allie is much more fully formed here, aided in no small part by the fact that she's striving toward a location, a person, a thing. Motivation goes a long way toward characterization in my book. (Okay, I'll shut up about that now.) But on the whole she is both jaded and hopeful, realistic yet oddly optimistic, moralistic yet still demonized. She's not yet come to terms with her experiences from the last book, but is determined to find her place in the world. She's strong and street-smart, but could use a bit of help in the political department, especially when it comes to dealing with vampires.

Which is where Jackal comes in. You heard right. Jackal. The main villain and Allie's vampiric blood brother from the end of the last book. He's also feeling Kanin's psychic call for help and offers Allie help in rescuing him. Allie doesn't trust him as far as she could throw him, but accepts the help knowing there's no way she could take down Kanin's captor—a vampire even more powerful than Kanin and more psycho than Jackal—by herself.

Personally, I liked Jackal a lot. He was sarcastic, cocky, and a jackass a lot of the time, but what can I say? I really liked him as a character. He was interesting, smart, funny, and provides some great dialog. There were a couple parts where he hinted at a possible tragic backstory, telling Allie that all vampires lose to their demon eventually, like maybe he'd dealt with a loss that jaded him beyond humanity already. But I'm also a sucker for redemption story lines, so having him go from ultimate evil to chaotic good guy was perfectly acceptable in my book.

So both vampires set out to find and rescue their sire. And yet for some time I questioned Allie's pull toward Kanin. Not in its science/magic, but in its importance. Allie seems to stake everything on finding Kanin, putting him above love, revenge, and at times even her own safety. Granted, her having a goal is much better than the boredom of the last book (sorry), but I continually questioned what he meant to her.

Thankfully I wasn't alone in this quandary, and eventually Zeke asks Allie that exact same question. In the end, Allie and Zeke come to an understanding by comparing Kanin to Zeke's father, Jebbadiah. Unfortunately, I saw very little to compare. Zeke was raised with/by his father for all of his life, able to experience both the good and the bad. So even though they disagreed on morality and principles, and even though Zeke was physically abused by him, Jebbadiah was still his father and earned his love and respect. Allie, on the other hand, knew Kanin for a few weeks at most, and even in YA super-speed, that's hardly enough time to form an everlasting fatherly bond. If it's vampire magic, just say it's vampire magic. If it's stronger than that, you'd better back it up with something more.

And yes, Zeke's back. Come on, he's a main love interest, did you really think he'd be gone for long? Though I didn't fully understand the chemistry between the two (Allie being attracted to Zeke, I got, but Zeke's pull to Allie I didn't), once I kinda blindly accepted that it existed, I didn't mind the romance. Yeah, it's kinda mushy, but considering how dark the rest of the environment was, I welcomed a little lightheartedness. And that's not to say that it's out of place in this world either. They discuss and deal with a lot of tough issues, and there are times when it looks like they'll call it quits. So I found it believable, in as much as the entire premise is believable, and handled fairly well.

However, I could see the possibility of a triangle brewing. I'm not sure if there was ever one in the works and it was edited out, or if it's written intentionally vaguely, but I can see a lot of readers gravitating toward a Allie/Jackal pairing. I'm sure the whole vampire brother/sister thing is supposed to dissuade readers from thinking that way, but who knows how vampire culture works in regards to that? Jackal keeps telling Allie that they'd be a great team, that they're a lot alike, and Allie even states a couple times how Jackal's personality is rubbing off on her. Flirting or just sibling affection? I'll let you decide.

In terms of the story as a whole, I saw a lot of things coming before they were revealed. Not to say that I wasn't ever surprised, but after the story got going a bit I was able to read hints very easily and knew some 'surprises' were coming eventually. Not sure whether these were due to the story itself or due to my own reading history. Still, I found the twists enjoyable and exciting, even those I expected, and I remained engaged and entertained throughout my reading.

But as much as I enjoyed the story, the writing, the characters, and the progression as a whole, it's time for a couple things that ground my gears.

One of my biggest peeves in the entire book happened within the first couple chapters, and my rage toward it has only grown stronger with time. In one of the first cities Allie enters in the book, she stumbles across the vampire prince ruling Washington D.C., who just so happens to be female. A female vampire prince? A female who isn't a total bitch or trying to tear her head off? A female who seems diplomatic, controlled, and might actually offer some advice to Allie who is currently struggling to find her way.

Please, sir ma'am, can I have some more?!?

Haha, no, just kidding. She gets maybe 5 lines of dialog, all of which is only exposition, and then we never see or think of her again. WHY!?! Is it because Allie has to be so super special that giving even one other female to compare to might make her shine less? Heaven forbid we give anyone that our main character might relate to — no, she's got to forge her own path and be even more super special awesome than all the stupid, violent, cruel boys she's surrounded by. Ya know, except when they've got to come to the rescue in a fight. Or except when we're loving on one of them. But, yeah, girl power!

Ugh. I understand how the story is obviously already mapped out and everything, but this one wasted character was so enraging to me. To have this idea of a female vampire prince, then show how civilized she acts with her humans, and with other vampires in general, and have her be completely glossed over in a matter of two chapters was such a let-down for me. And it doubly didn't help that it came at the beginning when I was still being extra suspicious and critical of everything. So, yeah, sorry, but I'm horribly disappointed with Azura's treatment.

But I'd say my biggest disappointment was in the cure itself. I can't say too much, obviously because of spoilers, but I will say I was disappointed in the staging of the cure. The cure comes into being completely off screen. And as such it seemed like more of a plot convenience or deus ex machina than an actual integral plot point. I appreciate that the timing was kept brisk for the story as a whole, but I felt that something as HUGE as this cure could have been integrated a bit more cleverly.

So this brings me to one of my biggest questions before, during, and after reading The Eternity Cure...can you, or should you in fact, read this without reading its predecessor, The Immortal Rules? Honestly, I think it could be done, but probably shouldn't. If there's one thing that The Immortal Rules did well, it was setting up the world for these characters. The grit, the terror, the despair, and so much of the pre-apocalyptic history was covered so well in book one, that book two's short recaps to boost your memory just don't do them justice. The Eternity Cure builds off of The Immortal Rules just as a sequel should; taking the elements that were good and amping up the stakes so that we're on the edge of our seats throughout and eager to pick up book three. So while a lot didn't work for me in book one, I'm glad I experienced it before tackling book two.

Overall I found The Eternity Cure an exciting and well executed installment in what is turning into a gripping series. I'd highly recommend it for those who enjoyed (or managed to get through) The Immortal Rules, or those who are interested in a gritty YA romance with a lot of bloody vampire action. There were three F-bombs and a fair amount of violence and gore, so I'd rank this appropriate for high-school and older. The Blood of Eden series might have had a rough start (for me), but its second journey proved to be even more intriguing than the first. So if you're looking for a vampire thriller that has more than a little bite to it, then you'll definitely want to pick up The Eternity Cure.

Approximate Reading Time: 8.5 hours

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.