(review was originally posted on my livejournal: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com)
As you can see above, I read this book for another book club. I actually started this book back at the end of February. I got almost 200 pages in, but because of school, and a lack of interest, I dropped it. I'm not too sure why I picked it up back up to be honest. I just saw it languishing in my room and thought: "Why the hell not?" Well, when I started it again, I could see why I dropped it in the first place; this really just isn't my kind of book. It still wasn't *horrible* though, so I ended up finishing it.
I think my hugest problem with this book (and it's not that it's the book's fault, this is just a matter of personal preference) was that it read a lot more like a romance novel, or a soap-opera. I don't know if other people feel this way, but that was the impression that I got. There's a lot of family drama, which is more or less what drives most of the plot, and unfortunately that's just not my thing.
There were a few elements of the urban fantasy here; the Dusklands and Dummanios for one. But they felt like they were put on for decoration, rather than actually being important to the plot as a whole. And while it was the opening of the Gates that was the centre of the story, it sometimes felt inconsequential as the characters' personal drama took centre stage a lot of the time.
Another problem I had was that I couldn't bring myself to sympathize with any of the characters. Rosie annoyed me with her constantly pining over Jon. Now, I know when you're young and you get a crush, you'll sometimes do stupid things because of it. But holy crap that girl could be dense. And then I'm supposed to feel sorry for her because she's having an affair? I understand that people make mistakes, and I definitely thought that she shouldn't stay with Alastair (but not because the sex wasn't any good, which was another thing that bothered me -- the almost obsessive attention to sex that permeated throughout the novel), but she bordered on slutty at times with Sam. And despite actually being a victim, I couldn't bring myself to feel sorry for Alastair either; his character was just so boring. Most of the supporting characters were just as unlikable, or pitiful. Faith was nice, but absolutely spineless, Matthew was a jerk, Sam was the archetypal "bad boy" and I don't understand how practically sexually harassing Rosie got her to like him, Jon was pathetic in his weakness, and so on and so forth. I'm all for having flawed characters, but they have to have redeeming qualities too, and I found very few in most of these characters.
Also, I need to point out that I was really annoyed when it was revealed after Alastair died, that he could be a vengeful person; especially the part where he got an ex-girlfriend's cat euthanized. It felt like the story was trying to say: "SEE, it's okay that Rosie cheated on him, because not only did she not feel passion for the guy, and the sex sucked, but he could be a HUGE JERK." NO. I have a hard time with trying to justify cheating.
I do have to say that I enjoyed the ending of the novel enough. The showdown with Brawth wasn't too bad and it didn't feel like it was glossed over too quickly, or too easily, though in a way it was. I thought it was really gutsy of Warrington to have Lawrence killed off, and especially gutsy to have Sam killed, but of course they don't STAY dead. So I was a little bummed out by that.. but it's not surprising that this book would have a more or less happy ending.
Another little thing that bothered me was the focus on sex. Rosie mentions more than once how unsatisfactory sex with Alastair is. Now to be fair, sex is obviously a very important aspect of a romantic relationship, but it almost felt like this was what made it a no-deal with Rosie, as opposed to any other factors. Also, when Rosie is trying to get Lucas to come back to Earth instead of going to the Abyss, she entices him with: "Don't you want to lose your virginity?" That just felt unnecessary. And then there were the sex scenes between Sam and Rosie. Again, this is a thing of personal preference, but they were a little over-the-top for me. It just seemed like someone's sexual fantasy written on paper, but maybe that was the point? They are supposed to be able to have otherworldly sex, being all otherworldly themselves, but I don't know. I couldn't take them seriously. I don't fault the author too much for that though; as I've stated before, it's just a matter of personal preference.
Final Verdict: I feel a little unfair trying reviewing this to be honest. Because it read more like a soap-opera, or a romance, this book ended up just not being my cup of tea. However, I feel like I'm a vegetarian writing a review for a steakhouse restaurant -- I'm a little too biased to be totally fair. It wasn't just the more romance feel of the novel that turned me off though. I found almost all the characters unlikable unfortunately, though I never particularly HATED anyone. They tried to be good people, but alas, I couldn't bring myself to sympathize with any of them. The novel also felt a little long; there was so much focus on family drama, as opposed to the fantasy elements of the novel, which is a shame. I guess this novel could be labeled as urban fantasy, but it doesn't have that many of those elements (re: reads more like a romance novel.) Now, if romance is your thing, and you like a dash of fantasy with it? You'll probably love it. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.