You know, I spent a lot of time with this book. I dragged it to work, read during lunch, on the ride home, on the coach, in bed, late into the night...it felt like I spent ages reading this book. Yet, it's hard to articulate how I feel about it. I can say for sure that it's neither the best, nor the worst book I've read in 2012...But beyond that, what can I say?
I was asked to read this for the purpose of participating in the blog tour, and the synopsis provided really didn't give me an accurate idea of what I was getting into plot wise...I don't know if I can describe it any better, but I'll try. Seth's brother is marrying Erin's sister, and so the two meet in Botswana on the way to the wedding. Seth has agreed to help his brother (Kyle) find an ancient diamond that turns out to be the key to making or breaking an ancient curse. Guardian angels swoop down and grab Seth and Erin and promptly tell them all about soul mates, and how they knew each other before they were born, and how their are many couples just like them, and isn't it wonderful? But in order to be together, they need to break the curse tied to the diamond. To understand the curse, they have to peer into the ancient past and watch how it has kept other couples from their happy endings. The remainder of the book mostly takes place in the 10th century A.D., with Seth and Erin as invisible witnesses to the loves and losses of a would be Shenayan leader.
I really liked a lot of the concepts that the book presented. I find the idea of a soul mate, someone you met and loved before you were born, to be very intriguing. Suspense is created when the reader is informed that having or meeting your soul mate doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending--you need to work for that yourselves. That's a very balance view of fated romance, and I like it.
When Seth and Erin travel back in time to watch the events of the past unfold, it brought to mind for me the sixth Harry Potter book, where Harry spends most of the book watching people's memories in order to try to understand Voldemort's seeming immortality, and also his potential weaknesses. I really enjoyed the concept in that book, so...why doesn't it work as well here? Well, I think the difference is that with Harry Potter, we had already had five books to build up stakes, make us care about what's going on in the present day, and curious about what happened in the past. With this book, we are only given the most vague descriptions and accounts of our main characters before they are sent to the past as invisible onlookers. I don't know enough about them, or feel enough toward them, to care about how the colossal pile of info-dump and back story relates to them. Stylistically, it just doesn't flow well, and it failed to keep me invested.
Seth and Erin have no real chemistry...because an inadequate amount of time is spend building that chemistry. So it's not a very romantic book.
Seth, and pretty much every male character in the book, is selfish, short sighted, and stupid. He gets better, but for me it was too little and too late.
It has more pages than the content of the story justifies, taking 100 pages to tell us what could be said in 50. The pacing is snail slow. You feel every page of the book, because you're waiting for the main characters to be able to do something. But they just watch, and you just wait, and not much comes of it.
I couldn't get invested in what went on in the historical portion of the story 1)because the characters are unlikeable 2)because I know the stories end badly, or we wouldn't have the present day story 3)because nothing in the narrative makes it feel like I'm in 900 something AD. I'm not anal about historical accuracy. However, I do find it distracting to have foreign characters in an ancient time using super modern language. Terms like "sleep together" (as a euphemism for sex), or being told that the warlord of this time has a desk...those sort of things feel out of place. There was nothing to really create the proper tone of being in a different time and very different culture.
Obviously, for me personally, cons outweighed the pros for this one. I did not enjoy the experience. What kind of reader would really like it? Well, I'd say if you like stories with dick-ish heroes that eventually see the light, and if you really get into angels and demons and curses, and you don't mind wading through back story, this is a good book for you. For those who like a deeper romance, a faster pace, and a more concise plot, don't bother with this one. 2 stars.