Sunday, February 26, 2012
On Lykans: A Review of Moon Spell by Samantha Young
This is, essentially, your atypical werewolf pack story. Caia has been in hiding most of her life, ostensibly because she is a potential target of the Midnight Coven (i.e. the evil magic folk). Finally, at the age of eighteen, she is returning to her pack for the first time. Learning to live among them isn't easy, especially with her growing attraction to Lucien, the pack's brooding leader. On top of this, Caia quickly starts to realize that there's something different about her, something tied to a dark past that's been kept from her for far too long.
I'd compare this book (favorably) to Bitten by Kelly Armstrong or Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson books. No, it's not quite as good as either of those, but it has a lot of the same elements that keep those books in my personal favorites list: pack dynamics, the outsider/misfit heroine, the slightly overbearing hero, their struggle to deal with an bond they don't necessarily want, the hints at a larger magical world.
I liked the mythology. Using Greek gods in urban fantasy is far from a unique idea, but in this book it's done with a good spin that adds to the richness of the story.
Caia is at least reasonably likable. She's not a doormat, but she's not a stubborn bitch either. She's extraordinarily powerful, which makes sense in the context of her being this series' Chosen One. Her development throughout the book follows fairly predictable lines, but I didn't mind that too much. There are only so many ways to grow up, after all.
The author made some interesting choices as far as romance and relationship development go. First of all, this is a fated mates book. I know that's a deal breaker for some readers. To me, it all depends on how the author handles the story. Young did a decent job. She explores the devastating side of fated mates, how it takes away choice. She sets up the idea that there can be love outside of the mated relationships, but those couples will never have children. She leaves some room for her characters to rebel against the bond, which I find interesting.
The second point about this book as a romance is that it is, by description, for young adults, with a character who is barely old enough to vote. The hero is in his mid-twenties. That sets them up for this weird, almost guardian/ward type of relationship, where he is older and more mature and thinks he knows best, and she is rebellious and defiant. It's kind of hot. It's also kind of uncomfortable. And just in case you think I'm projecting my own feelings here, this issue is actually commented on in the book, with the hero repeatedly saying he can't believe he's stuck dealing with this kid, and so on. And yet things do get physical, in a scene that is somewhat explicit. While I'm not too bothered by it, I do think it potential readers should be aware and exercise caution. If this kind of thing might creep you out, don't read this book.
Finally, I was frustrated by Caia's attitude toward Lucien. I thought she was a bit harsh toward him. She makes a series of decisions regarding what to do with her life, which come across as contrived and nonsensical. Not only does she seem to be going out of her way to misunderstand, hurt, and defy Lucien, but her reasons for doing so don't really fit her character or the plot. To me it seemed like a forced way to create tension, and I don't care for that.
If you like werewolves, if you like magic, and if you like mature YA romance, you will like this book. It isn't anything ground breaking or particularly memorable, but it's entertaining and easy to read. 3 stars.