Immortal Beloved and Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan
I'm feeling strangely honest today, so I'll admit that I wanted this book because I saw the word 'immortal' and heard 'vampires'. I was disappointed to discover that it was not actually about vampires. Just immortal people, who turned out to have magic. And I am loathe to read anything about magic because Harry Potter's kind of ruined magic for me. Because I love Harry Potter, and nothing will ever be as good so why bother reading something you know will be inferior? Also, in this book there's a K on the end of magic and that annoys me. For reasons even I don't quite understand.
Okay, now that all of that's out of the way - I really liked both of these books. Nastasya is a 400+ year old who acts like a teenager. A spoiled, rich teenager with no parents. She and her friends have floated through the last century in a drug-enhanced haze of parties and designer clothes, no responsibilities and no consequences. But then Innocencio, Nastasya's best friend, uses his magic to break the spine of a cab driver who says something to upset him and Nastasya starts to see her life for what it really is - a shallow, soulless mess. And she wants something better, she wants something more.
I loved Nastasya. There was just something about her voice that I loved and kept me turning the pages. She entertained the hell out of me, even though she's really a whiny brat who can't see anything without having it spelt out to her. I even came to care about it, which really surprised me (see my previous comment about her being a whiny brat). And actually, this voice is what kept me going because, to my mind at least, the story is seriously lacking in a few departments.
Do you hate it when a plot event or twist is so clearly signposted that you can see it two hundred pages before it happens and long before the character even comes close to figuring it out? Of course you do, it's incredibly frustrating, and that happens in both of these books. Quite a bit, in fact. Now, usually, this would have irritated me to the point of throwing the book at a wall, but it was slightly different here. Because I liked the character so much, it didn't matter to me so much that I could see what was coming, because I was interested to see how she reacted to it. How she dealt with it. Sure, her shock would have resonated more if I'd shared even a fraction of it, but it didn't ruin the book for me. Either book, in fact. And I sense it's something that will continue into the third book, seeing as how I haven't even read a synopsis of it and I'm pretty sure I can guess what's going to happen in it.
I enjoyed most of the minor characters as well, though, so there wasn't that ever so common problem of an excellent main character surrounded by cardboard cut-outs. I mean, sure, it didn't hurt that Reyn is frequently described as looking like a Norse god, which put the image of Chris Hemsworth as Thor into my head, but the unattractive characters are just as interesting to read. If I had to complain (and because I'm me, I do) I'd say that I want to see more of Innocencio. He's a fascinating character, but I feel that a lot of what he does is dismissed as the actions of a lunatic. I think there's more to him than that.
The only other thing I have to say is that I thought these books were YA when I first came across them, but now I'm not so sure. They're not really YA books, but they're not really adult books either. I think the problem is that even though Nastasya and her friends act like teenagers and the point of the story is that she wants to find out who she really is (I read someone saying the other day that that's the true definition of a YA book, though I'm not sure I really agree), she's lived several lives. She's had husbands and children and seen so much more of the world than the usual teenager, and so the YA label doesn't really sit right here. I'd be really interested to see how Cate Tiernan pitched it to agents, and how they pitched it to publishers.