Monday, June 20, 2011

Vampire. Warrior. Legend. Loser.

The best way that I can explain Ascension by Caris Roane is this: Imagine that J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books and Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter books had a baby, and that baby grew up into a troubled teenager. That's this book. But troubled teens aren't irredeemable, right? Sure, it's going to take some discipline on the part of the editor and a lot of patience on the part of the reader, but it could still turn out alright. At least, that's what I told myself as I powered through the first two thirds of this book. In the end though, it's just a bad seed, and not really one I cared to stick with.

Here is my list of issues with this book:

1. This is a fated mates book. Hero and heroine are destined to be together because the author says so. Their sexual chemistry is instantaneous and irrationally overblown. The initial stages of getting to know one another involve smelling each other, gazing longingly into each others eyes, and dreaming of each other. I'm not against fated mates as a rule, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way is taking away all of your character's choices and forcing them on one another, and using the mate bond as a stand in (or even total replacement) for growing affection. For the most part this book does it the wrong way.

2. The groups of hulk-like warrior men battling evil? It's been done before. Many times. And done better than this. This book is just generally unoriginal, kind of like fan fiction where all the names have been changed.

3. Roane's writing style is horrible. Typos, awkward wording, abrupt and frequent shifts in POV, one and two word sentences, needless repetition. The dialogue is the worst, with lots of phony sounding tough talk. One glaring example was when in detailing a character's thoughts Roane used "helluvan" instead of "hell of an". Now, I was willing to chalk up a lot of these issues to Roane being a new author, but upon flipping to her bio I saw that she has published many books under the name Valerie King. I couldn't believe that an experienced author would write like this.

4. Silly half baked world building. For one thing, the heroine is given an incomprehensible number of super powers. And the hero and his band of brothers are vampires...with wings. I started calling them wampires. There are good wampires and bad wampires, and the bad ones are blue for some reason. There are multiple dimensions including Mortal Earth and Earth Two. So there are all kinds of rules about where the wampires can fight and how they can fight. And there's vocabulary to learn as well. My favorite was the power of making objects disappear and appear, which is called "folding". Whenever it set "folding his sword into his hand" I could not stop picturing him folding a sword in half. Bottom line, all of the concepts are B-movie quality at best.

5. And finally, the sequel baiting. You want to buy the next book, right? That's going to be Marcus' story. He sounds cool right? Buy his book. Buy it! Ugh. I just want to enjoy the novel I'm reading and get a complete story without having to spend another $8 to complete the tale.

What can I say that's positive? When the heroine, Alison, is first introduced I thought she might be interesting. She has a lot of emotional issues and identity issues that I wanted to see her work through. But when it became clear that her powers and her relationship with Kerrick were going to be her new identity I lost interest in her. Kerrick bored me with his angst, self pity, and stubbornness. He did sound physically attractive though. Many of the secondary characters, like Endelle the military leader, were intriguing. This was ruined the second they spoke a word of dialogue.

So if you really like fated mates, haven't had your fill of vampire gang wars, and don't mind sloppy writing, go ahead and try this book. 1 star.

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