I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
The dead have been waiting for her…
Addison Beckett tries hard to pretend she’s normal, but she’s far from it. Since she was six years old, she’s seen the world around her unraveling, as if someone is pulling a thread from a sweater and it’s all slowly coming undone. When she ignores it, it goes away, so that’s what she does.
Enter her arrogant-but-hot professor Asher Green. He knows all about her special brand of crazy. In fact, he might be just as nuts as she is. Asher insists that the dead from a parallel dimension are trying to possess the living in this one. And since Addison seems to be the only one who can see these “wraiths,” she just might be the key to saving the world.
Addison wants nothing to do with Asher or his secret society, The Mortal Machine. But as their animosity grows, she finds it harder and harder to ignore the chemistry between them. And when she discovers that Machine laws forbid her from touching him, she realizes that’s all she wants to do.
Stop the wraiths. Break the rules. Save the world. All in a day’s work.
Normal was overrated, anyway. (source)
When I first saw the promotion for this book in an email from Entangled Publishing, I almost dismissed it. The cover screams Twilight, in my opinion - pretty skinny girl with dark hair with an equally attractive man who's pale, almost in a vampirish way, positioned above a title that would have been perfect for a sequel to Breaking Dawn. However, I chose to obey the old adage admonishing us to never judge a book by its cover, and read the description accompanying the cover. The premise, I found, was nothing like Twilight, and actually sounded quite original and intriguing. Plus, it had the added bonus of the student-and-hot-teacher trope, which I've actually never read but I was interested in being introduced to. So, I decided to sign up for the review copy and now here I am, posting my review a tad bit later than I intended (but still within a week of the book's release) - sorry Entangled!
I think I'll go ahead and start with what I didn't like. For starters, I think that the book would have greatly benefited from being written in third person limited rather than first person. I understand that Jocelyn Adams wanted us to get inside Addison's head, but frankly, Addison annoyed me to no end. Her narration struck me as immature and whiny, and her attempts at sarcasm and wit just did not work at all. I believe that conveying the story in third person would have diluted Addison's personality a bit and maybe I would have liked her more - because, truthfully, she's not a completely unlikable character. She's got spunk and I always appreciate that. I think it's just a matter of spending too much time in her head. It definitely got old.
Also, there was a lot of info-dumping. Adams has created a world that's very different from any that I've read about thus far and it makes sense that she needed to find a way to convey how things worked to her reader efficiently, so she could get on to the actual meat of the story. Unfortunately, this did result in rushed storytelling and info dumping, which left me feeling very overwhelmed and confused.
I was also uncertain about Asher and Addison's relationship. It was so weird. I think that Adams was going for the whole "there's a fine line between love and hate thing," but the indecision about how each character felt for the other was frustrating. I think it's safe to say that for the vast majority of the book, they hated each other. This hatred would be punctuated with moments of mutual attraction that would result in Addison thinking, "Hmm, maybe something could happen with this guy?" and then Asher would do something to upset her and they'd go right back to hating each other. Truthfully, there really wasn't much attraction between them aside from physical attraction - Asher and Addison had very little in common and they were constantly putting each other down. Towards the end of the book, when we got more information on Asher's history, the attraction did start to make a bit more sense, but I'd still say that for the majority of the book, they only were semi-interested into each other because they felt physically drawn to each other. And while sexual tension is great for fueling emotional drama, it's not really what stable, healthy relationships are built from. Additionally, some romance fans might be disappointed to find that nothing really happens between Asher and Addison beyond a few make out scenes. I personally wasn't really bothered by this - I actually admire Adams for not including sex scenes that add nothing meaningful to the story - but some people might be disappointed by it.
As I mentioned, I really liked the premise of Adams' story. It took me most of the book to realize this, but it's actually a take on angels vs. demons that has successfully excluded religion from the plot. I'm not anti-religion (I'm actually pretty active in practicing my faith), but most romance novels that I've read that take on the angels and demons issue completely fail to mention God, and, frankly, if God's absent, what's the point of angels and demons? Well, Adams circumvents this issue by renaming the supernatural entities. The demons are known as wraiths and they don't really resemble demons - when Addison sees one, she describes it as half-man, half-bug. But like demons, wraiths possess humans and then, instead of trying to corrupt their souls and take them to hell as a demon would, they try to use that human's body to create as much destruction and pain in the lives of other humans as they possibly can - which actually isn't too far from what a demon would do. Wraiths are combatted by guardians - they have other titles and ranks within their organization, but collectively they're called guardians and their goal is to kill these wraiths and prevent them from attacking humans. Instead of living in heaven and hell, wraiths and guardians exist in alternate dimensions. The guardians' domain does not resemble Heaven, but instead is essentially a stark, gray barracks. When Addison is recruited by the guardians, she finds that they actually are having some pretty serious internal issues and it basically falls to her to fix them. It took me so long to realize that this was the actual premise of the book because there was so much info-dumping. But once I figured it out, I was like "OMG that is SO cool."
The story itself was compelling enough to motivate me to read it quickly, even with its flaws. I honestly had such a struggle to put it down, and I only did that when necessary (examples: sleep, church, etc.). I definitely want to read future books because the ending was a fantastic cliff hanger. It was completely unlike the ending of any other romance novel that I have ever read.(show spoiler)
If you're looking for a different take on supernatural romance, I think that you should consider giving Darkside Sun a try. It is imperfect and there were definitely parts of it that I was not fond of, but I couldn't put it down and I thought that it was very original. I'm eagerly anticipating the next book in the series!
Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy from Entangled Publishing, but in no way did this influence my review of the book.