Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review: Cate Tiernan, Immortal Beloved

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub date: September 7, 2010
Reading level: Young Adult
Page count: 416 pages

Many thanks to my generous friend Ashley for sending me an ARC of this book. Ashley has very highbrow literary tastes and happens to work in publishing, so I can always count on her to send me YA/vampire/urban fantasy ARCs she receives that would otherwise be thrown out.

I’ve never read any of Cate Tiernan’s stuff and was a bit wary going in, due to the lame cover and the schmultzy title (Immortal Beloved? Seriously?). But! Don’t let that stuff deceive you. This was actually a pretty good book, surprisingly so. The heroine, Nastasya, is interesting and funny with a distinct voice and just the right amount of snark. The plot is creative and engaging.

Nastasya is a 452 year old immortal. She lives a life of leisure…a high class party girl whose sole focus is roaming the planet to find the next great party, along with her band of similarly useless, pleasure-seeking immortal friends. Natasya has a dark past, with some very disturbing memories she works hard (through drugs and partying) to keep buried at all costs.

But everything changes one night after some intense partying when her best friend in the immortal world displays a truly sinister side: he uses magic to break a cabby’s spine for the pure fun of it. Nastasya has a sudden wake up call and feels sickened with her lifestyle. She checks into a sort of rehab center for immortals and begins a Thoreau-inspired quest to find meaning in life, to achieve happiness, confront her past, etc. While there, she develops true connections with people for the first time in centuries, including a certain "Viking lord" (another immortal delinquent) who seems strangely familiar...

I have only two real complaints about the book.  First, I thought it ended too abruptly. I understand that this is the first in a trilogy, but still...there were all these hints along the way that Nastaysa was in grave mortal danger, that the people who slayed her entire family 450 years previously were probably still out to get her due to her inherited powers, and that they were getting closer to finding her every moment. But nothing ever happens with this, at least not in book 1, which seemed a bit odd to me.

Second, the interaction between Nastaysa and the Viking lord was very awkward at times. Nastaysa has these bizarre outbursts whenever she encounters him - she bites his head off for no real reason and it just didn't work for me. I suppose the author was using these outbursts as a way to build tension between the star-crossed lovers...but it seemed unnatural. Plus their family histories provide plenty of tension in and of itself. Hopefully these kinks are now worked out and their relationship will be more fluid in the next book. The Viking lord is definitely sexy, so I hope I'll be able to get on board with him more in the future.

3.5 stars

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