Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Girl At Midnight

Oh, the soul-crushing feeling when a book that starts out so well comes crashing down around you.

Sorry to be such a downer, but there it is.  I was rooting for this book up until three-quarters of the way through, when it abruptly became more of a "Dear lord, when will this end?" emotion.


So, let's do some pros and cons.

Pros:

Main character, named Echo, has a hearty dislike of authority (which actually is sustained throughout the book--she doesn't capitulate).
Echo collects esoteric words and deploys them at strategic moments.
There are bird-people (the Avicen) with a stronghold in New York City, who are battling their mortal foes the dragon-people (the Drakharin) who hang out mostly in Russia/Japan (not quite sure there).
The mythical firebird is involved.

Cons:

Echo's love of words doesn't connect to anything in the narrative, and she doesn't do it often enough for it to be a character trait.  It's more of a series of out of left field moments than anything.
Echo has a boyfriend who is Avicen, but she pretty much dumps him for this other dude that she just met, named Caius.
All Echo can think about is how beautiful her Avicen bf is.  Sooooo pretteeeeeeee.
There's magical teleporting dust but never mind that because we have to find the firebird!
Then there's an oracle and the evil Dragon-Prince usurper, who is a psychopathic lady and twin of Caius.
The enemy totally just follows the MC's breadcrumbs because nobody thought to obscure their trail.
The firebird's main power is that it can shoot black and white fire at the Dragon Prince Tanith, who maybe escapes?  I was again unclear on that.  Pew pew pew pew!

All in all, this is a very uneven novel.  The pacing gave me a bit of whiplash.  It's like la-la-la I am having fun stealing things WHOOM KIDNAPPING MUST SAVE THE WORLD *poof* WORLD SAVED.  Wait, how did that just happen?

Okay, to go into a bit more detail:


One evening, the Ala, a sort of mystical leader of the Avicen, roams the New York Public Library.  There, she is discovered by a runaway girl who has the perceptive abilities to see Ala.  The Ala, takes a shine to this spunky human, and brings her to live with the Avicen.  We meet Echo, the girl, many years later.  She's always been a thief, and now her thievery serves the Avicen market well.  The Avicen crave some human treats, and need other supplies to craft their medicines.  Echo slips through gateways using a magical poofy powder and zips around the world.  Much faster than taking a plane.

Although the Avicen, as a whole, see Echo as an outsider, she does have a few friends.  Rowan is her boyfriend-ish person (who is, naturally, super-hot.  I do not think there are non-super-hot Avicen, but whatever.  Also sorry for the double negative).  Her other good friend is Ivy, a healer's apprentice, but one day (dun dun DUNNNN!) the healer and Ivy go missing--kidnapped by the eeeevil Drakharin!

The Ala is convinced that the only way to stop the war between the two races is to find the Firebird (okay, we'll just go with this) and since Echo is a good thief, Ala sends her off on a Quest.

Actually, up until this point it was pretty interesting.  Then all these extra people entered the story, and we find out the Prince Caius' second-in-command, Dorian, is in love with him (but it's never explicitly stated) but also falls for this flamboyant Avicen that they meet in Germany whose main role in the story is to make kinky comments to the aforementioned Drakharin.  I felt kind of uncomfortable with Dorian's unflagging devotion to Caius in the hopes of somehow ... I don't know, changing Caius' sexual orientation?

The plot twist that you all guessed happens at the end, but it's certainly not as dramatic as I'd hoped,  It's more like a fizzle twist.  The clues and riddles don't seem to matter in the end, and everything ends up just hanging there, waiting for the inevitable trilogy.


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