Sunday, July 10, 2011

Snippet Reviews: Fever

I'll be the first to admit that Karen Marie Moning's Fever series isn't the best urban fantasy series out there, but it's far from the worst. More importantly, it holds a special place in my heart for introducing me to the concept of urban fantasy in the first place, and to help me get over some reading prejudices. I picked up the first book kind of by mistake, because Borders insists on putting them in the romance section (where they DO NOT belong). And upon discovering that it was a first person narrative I wanted nothing more than to get rid of it. I know that sounds like a stupid reason not to read a book, but at the time I had such negative feelings toward first person POV that it really seemed like a deal breaker. But the people I talked to about the book kept insisting that these books were the height of awesome and well worth enduring the narrative, so I gave it a shot.

The basic premise is as follows: Mac's sister is killed in Ireland and the police are unable to solve the crime. Angry and upset, Mac travels to Dublin for answers and discovers, to her horror, that supernatural creatures known as Fae seem to have been responsible. Mac learns that she is a Sidhe-Seer, a person with the ability to see the fae. She can also sense objects of power, weapons and other items that are of fae creation. One such object is called the Sinsar Dubh, a dark book of evil magic that has been let loose in the world. Many people (and non-people) are scrambling to find and own the book. One such person is Barrons, the bookstore owner and simultaneous object of Mac's lust and suspicion. There is also Vlane, a faery prince, who pursues Mac constantly in spite of her ongoing protests.

Book One: Darkfever: I really loved Moning's use of mythology. The story is very imaginative, turning what might have otherwise been a bland fantasy story into a genuinely interesting and somewhat frightening novel. Mac feels like a familiar, friendly character, probably because I've known people like her. Young, shallow, and untried, but full of unrealized potential. At times she's really irritating, but it's forgivable. This book is full to bursting with exposition and has absolutely no stand alone power, which is always a negative in my mind. 4 stars.

Book Two: Bloodfever: This is the book where we finally start to see Mac develop a spine and a sense of self. With some of the exposition out of the way, Moning got better at building a tone and setting a stage that felt real and creepy. The sexual tension between Mac and Barrons continues to grow, even as her feelings toward him remain uncertain. It's definitely a transitional book, but a good one. 4.5 stars

Book Three: Faefever: By this book Mac has learned a certain sense of self-sufficiency and independence, and she starts playing for multiple teams as it were. She's trying to prevent the walls between the human and fae worlds from coming down, and her struggles are admirable and entertaining. On the downside, this book has a massive cliffhanger. It ends on a climax instead of a resolution, and that kind of annoyed me. 4.5 stars.

Book Four: Dreamfever: This is a book where there is so much to love and so much to hate at the same time. This one has a sort of dystopian post-apocalyptic feel to it, which I'll admit isn't my favorite sort of plot thread. Mac behaves pretty irrationally and it's maddening at times, because by now you'd think she'd have more direction. But, the world building and plot remain engrossing. The secondary characters--Barrons, Christian, Dani--really shine. Again, there is a massive gimmicky stupid cliffhanger. At least I so this one coming. 3.5 stars.

 Book Five: Shadowfever: This book had the responsibility of answering all of the questions from the previous books, and for the most part Moning does a decent job. It has more introspective portions than the previous books, and as a result I'd say the page count is higher than necessary. But you get a resolution to the biggest of the problems, Mac finds some stability in her love life and life in general. There's a definite hint of more to come from the Fever universe. 4 stars.

Overall, this is a great series. Granted, each book has absolutely no stand alone power and the plots kind of run into and blend into one another. Also, I do think the story could have been told in only three or four books had more careful planning been implemented. But if your willing to overlook the flaws and you like urban fantasy, I recommend this series.

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