I've discovered a lot of new YA authors in the last couple years. Since I've pretty much failed at recording my readerly thoughts in this blog lately, I sadly can't remember who half of those authors are now. (I'm not sure if that says more about the quality of their work or the quality of my rapidly aging brain. It's a toss up.) BUT...I can tell you with unfaltering confidence that my favorite discovery in recent times is Kresley Cole's new YA series, The Arcana Chronicles.
The first book in the series, Poison Princess, completely blew me away. The hauntingly vivid and all-consuming world building; the complex, fully formed, compelling characters (not to mention the palpable chemistry between them!); and the fast-paced, unpredictable, mind-blowingly creative plot knocked this one out of the park for me. I am wracking my brain trying to think of another YA author who succeeds so fully in all three of these areas: world building, character development, and plot. I dunno, J.K. Rowling, maybe?
Anyway. Then the second book in the series, Endless Knight, came out, and it was friggin great as well, and I was like holy cow Kresley Cole HOW DO YOU DO IT, and then I had to wait like 11 months or some ungodly amount of time for Dead of Winter to finally publish, and that was total agony, and then finally it came out and I downloaded it on my Kindle at like 12:01 am the day of publication, and....
SON-OF-A-B. It's not good. It's just a filler book. It's okay, I still love this series, but this book was basically a total flop for me. First of all, nothing much happens in the book. Ok, like one or two things happen, but not enough to warrant an entire effing book. Second of all, the main character, Evie, who I generally really like because she's badass and pretty and independent, is reduced to a boy crazy shell of her former glory. She basically spends the entire book moaning about how she's not sure if she should choose Death or Jack. I used to be pretty invested in that question, but to my horror I now find that I no longer care.
Another thing I used to love about this series is the steamy chemistry Cole builds between Evie and both Death and Jack. I have truly never felt so conflicted about a love triangle! But in this book, the chemistry dies. It's not enough to hear Evie drooling about how sexy Jack is, or how she just feels this CONNECTION to Death. The reader needs to FEEL it, and in this third installment, I have to confess that I no longer feel it. There's just too much telling, not enough showing!
To me, this book just felt half assed and rushed--like it wasn't meant to be a full book at all, but the publisher was like CRAP SALES ARE DOWN GET THAT KRESLEY WOMAN TO WRITE SOMETHING TOUT DE SUITE. And she complied, even slapping on the obligatory heinous cliffhanger at the end (which was so predictable it hurt).
Le sigh. I still love the series and will definitely read the fourth book whenever it comes out, but I do feel a bit like my Arcana Chronicles balloon has been deflated.
2.5 stars :-(