Teen Times Two

The title says it all. I'm more or less twice the age of the intended demographic, but I have fallen in love with the YA dark-urban-fantasy-paranormal-romance (pick one or several) genre. True, after 'Twilight' it's a crowded field, and a lot of the offerings are less than brilliant. But the ones that are brilliant really are. Like the 'Fallen' series. Or two thirds of it. I just finished 'Passion' and my thoughts go like this:

After loving 'Fallen' and finding 'Torment' distinctly mediocre, I had my doubts about Lauren Kate's third installment in the series. **** Still, I have to admit I dropped everything when the amazon box shot through the mail slot, and spent the next few days swatting off pets and children so I could read it.

There's a lot I could say about this book, but a lot of it's been said already. Yes, it's slow to start. Yes, it's a very different kind of story from what came before, and that's bound to alienate some readers. But personally, I think it's the best of the series so far.

I mean this partly on an emotional level. In 'Fallen', though I loved the characters and the setting, I could never quite reconcile Luce's pathetic stalking of a boy who's deliberately cruel to her. Even when he got nicer, there didn't seem much point to her infatuation. In 'Torment' it was Daniel who annoyed me, with his patriarchal attitude and refusal to give Luce any reasons for his constant demands. 'Passion' may throttle back on the action, and there are no boarding school antics to keep things ticking over, but Kate wisely uses the breathing space to finally make a case for this doomed love that's spanned milennia. It's here that I finally find Daniel and Luce believable. In fact they also manage to be moving, in places even profound.

'Passion' is also better than the others on a technical level. Okay, not something most teen readers care about or will even notice, but as a historical novelist myself, I was quite impressed by Kate's ability to create so many believable past worlds for her characters to experience. And while twentieth century Russia and Italy aren't too hard to manage, she also bravely delves into some pretty obscure settings: pre-Columbian Mexico, ancient Tibet, and eighteenth century Tahiti, to name a few. It says a lot about her as a writer that all of these disparate settings were equally well-realized.

So why not five stars? First [slight spoiler alert] the Bill 'twist' was obvious to me from the moment he appeared on the scene. I just couldn't buy it that Luce would be so gullible, after all she's been through. Second, Luce ended the previous book on fairly dubious terms with Daniel. Then she's right back in love with him at the beginning of 'Passion'. I would have liked to see her start out still angry and conflicted, and have to work through these emotional obstacles to realize how she really feels about Daniel, and why. The third bummer was heaven. After all of these fabulous, imaginitive historical settings, heaven was straight out of a children's Bible illustration - definitely a letdown.

All in all though, a great novel. I'm looking forward to the last installment, even though I know I'll miss these characters when they're finished.

By sarah on 04 July 2011 |