Intertwined by Gena Showalter

This is a review for an ARC copy that I got at BEA. Intertwined is another offering from Harlequin’s new line: Harlequin Teen (I reviewed another of their books, Rachel Vincent’s My Soul To Take on this blog in July – LJ | wordpress).

The Premise: Aden Stone is a teen who has been in and out of trouble for a really long time. The reason is that he can hear voices that no one else does. When he replies to them out loud, people think he’s crazy. What’s really going on is that Aden has four souls trapped inside him, who each have an ability which means Aden also has that ability. One day he runs into Mary Ann Gray, a girl who completely stops the voices inside him. They feel an interesting bond between them, but soon afterwards they meet a werewolf who has an interest in Mary Ann and a vampire princess who Aden is pulled towards.

My Thoughts: I liked that Aden Stone was a character with very serious past mistakes, the kind that means treatment options and people not trusting him. This is something you don’t always see in YA, but I’ve seen in before in another Showalter YA novel, Red Handed (where the main character was a drug addict in recovery). For this reason I found Aden the strongest character in the book, although the focus sometimes shifted off him onto Mary Ann. Mary Ann had a happier past, but she also had some depth, particularly in her relationship with her father and best friend.

There are two romances in here and although the blurb pretty much gives you an idea of who is interested in who (so this isn’t a spoiler), the first people who meet in this book are Aden and Mary Ann.  The third person narration focuses on them, so I thought they were being set up as a couple, but they’re not. They meet the other two main characters and immediate crushes are fostered. I would have liked the getting to know you to happen before each character decided they were smitten, and less telling rather than showing, so the romances didn’t do it for me, but were a couple of sweet moments. I of course had my cynic’s cap on regarding the vampire princess being 80 years old, but that’s a personal pet peeve, and here vampires mature less slowly (the equivalent of terrible twos is several years for example) which made it feel a bit more acceptable.

Besides the action in the very beginning of the book, it was a lot of set up into the world and the pacing felt slow at first. It is a long book (442 pages in this ARC) and about 200 pages of it is the protagonists meeting, finding out about each other’s powers and basically going to school. Things became more interesting when Aden’s time travel came into play. From that point on, I was reading at a happy speed, but once the significance of what he saw when he time-travelled was resolved the book sort of fast forwarded through to a quick ending that left me a little unsatisfied. It wasn’t quite a cliffhanger, but it felt really abruptly (and conveniently!) done.

A biggest problem I had with the book was that there were a lot of ideas being thrown at the reader. It’s hard to list them all. There’s all of Aden’s abilities, his past, Mary Ann’s affect on Aden, their relationship to each other, romances with others, and several kinds of supernatural creatures for starters. There felt like a lot of story arcs without a distinct focus. I think I’d have preferred that the author concentrate on Aden and his story rather than bringing in all this outside elements and jumping back and forth between Aden and Mary Ann.

Overall: As escapist fun, this was OK but flawed (uneven pacing and too much going on, things where YMMV). If I think about it there were a few things plot-wise which I hope get cleared up in later books, but the start of this series hasn’t wowed me.

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers – Ana liked it and gave it an 8

Steph Su Reads – 2 out of 5 (had some similar complaints as me re: too much going on)
Links:

There’s Intertwined sweepstakes with a $10,000 grand prize! You can enter every day until November 16th

Red Handed and Blacklisted by Gena Showalter

Blacklisted
Gena Showalter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two books by Gena Showalter are from the young adult half of her Alien Huntress series. In this series the focus is on strong women who live in a futuristic society where aliens live amongst us. To protect themselves from some of the more dangerous aliens, humans have A.I.R – Alien Investigation and Renewal agency, which these books revolve around. The list of books so far:

Adult:

  • Awaken Me Darkly
  • Enslave Me Sweetly

Young Adult:

  • Red Handed
  • Black Listed

I read Awaken Me Darkly first, early this year. This centered around A.I.R. agent Mia and on Arcadians – aliens tha sound like the twins from The Matrix. I liked the action and the aliens but the story lost steam in the second half and the plot became much less tight. Basically I liked the world but it didn't end up a keeper.

Red Handed and Blacklisted are in the same world except the protagonists are teenagers. The reader also gets to learn about other alien species that weren't discussed in detail in Awaken me Darkly.  Also, these books can be read in any order without missing anything. Characters from past books make appearances but they are not central to the story.

In Red Handed, Phoenix is a recovering drug adult trying to redeem herself in her mother's eyes. She just got back from rehab for an addiction to Onadyn – a drug that some aliens need to survive but deprives humans of oxygen. Phoenix tries to stay away from her friends that still use but misses the companionship, so she ends up at a party in the woods where many kids are high. Aliens attack the party expecting little resistance but Phoenix is sober and fights back with the help of a mysterious boy she meets at the party. Unfortunately for Phoenix, when she gets home her mother only thinks it's more drugs. The people who brought Phoenix home suggest a boot camp to straighten her out, and Phoenix's mom is only too ready to let her go. The twist is that this boot camp isn't a rehabilitation center. It is a training center for A.I.R., the mysterious boy is an A.I.R agent, and Phoenix has just been recruited. The rest of the story deals with Pheonix's training, making friends in A.I.R and overcoming the stigma of being an addict. I enjoyed reading about Phoenix's struggles to prove that she has moved past her addiction and to become more than an ex-junkie. The portrayal of the bitterness from others, especially her mother, for what Phoenix put them through and Phoenix's subsequent shame added depth to the story. This ended up being my favorite book in this series.

Blacklisted centers around an ordinary girl named Camille with a huge crush on Erik, who goes to her high school. She and her best friend sneak into a nightclub that they heard he was going to be. Erik isn't happy to see her because he's involved with drugs, and he needs to lose the tail of A.I.R. agents watching him, so he gives her an empty napkin hoping this would both make her stop following him and distract the A.I.R. agents. Unfortunately Camille proves to be more resourceful than he expected and follows him into a high security area of the club, leading A.I.R. to believe she's involved in his shady dealings. A.I.R. is even more unhappy with Erik than the usual drug-dealer because he used to be an A.I.R. agent himself. Erik has a reason for why he's doing what he does, and he doesn't want to involve an innocent like Camille, but her actions means A.I.R is now looking for both of them. This was an interesting story because it looked at the situation from a different angle – where A.I.R. and laws that condemn the guilty can also condemn the innocent at the same time. In this story the actions of A.I.R. were bullheaded from this point of view. An interesting point and written nicely, but I preferred Red Handed. I think my main issue was that I found Camille to be silly from the beginning for doggedly pursuing Erik, and I just couldn't shake this view of her as foolish and impulsive. Even when she continued to trust and believe Erik, I thought – in real life this would be a parent's nightmare – their daughter romanticizing a drug dealer. In real life he wouldn't really be a good guy. This book also tied up really quickly and easily in the last few pages which I had real trouble with as well. I think I would have felt more satisfied with an ending that was less easy, if that makes sense.

Last point – both of these books had sexual situations which make them geared to a more mature teen. It's interesting how much more of this I see in books now than in my teens (10 years ago). I did notice that both girls were 18, the author is careful about that, and they in what seemed to be serious long term relationships.

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