Written In red

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Expected Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: NAL
Author’s Website: http://www.annebishop.com
My Source for This Book: Gift
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 1, The Others Series
Series Best Read In Order: N/A
Steam Level: Chaste
Pet Peeves: No Sex, Mary Sue
Favorite Tropes: Psychic, Paranormals Are Scary

Official Blurb:

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

What Worked For Me:

  • I loved the mythology surrounding the terra indigine and the cassandra sangue. The idea of humans not being at the top of the food chain, and of their society having developed that way from the very first homo sapien was really interesting to me. I would like to see this expanded more, and have high hopes for the next book in the series.
  • The cassandra sangue was intriguing. Meg belonging to a group of women who were imprisoned “for their own safety” and yet exploited for profit reminded me of tales of madhouses many years ago. I’ve always been fascinated by characters who have grown up in captivity, andseeing them adapt to the “outside” world, and Meg was no exception. While I wish there had been more of a focus on her history (where are her parents, how did she end up in captivity, etc.), I really enjoyed both her naivete and her ability to adapt to the outside world. She was, of course, far too trusting at times, especially for someone on the run for their life, but I enjoyed watching her settle into the one place where she might be safe from her captors, but would be in danger from the terra indigine around her.
  • I loved the action at the end. One of my complaints about the book was how “quiet” it was for much of the story, with not that much actually happening outside of a daily narrative, and so I really appreciated the pumped-up action and excitement at the end.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  • The book is expensive as far as much of the mainstream ebook market is concerned, especially considering it’s the first book in a series (and therefore many readers are unfamiliar with the author). Pricing an ebook at $9.99 (or more — the UK editions are almost $22 at the prices and exchange rate at the time of this review) is a bold move, and one that I think will hurt this book in the long run. It puts it out of reach of many readers who would enjoy it, and more than that, will incite quite a bit of book rage in the readers who end up disliking it.
  • There’s no way around it — Meg is one of those annoyingly “perfect” characters who sadly comes across as pretty flat most of the time. For one thing, she makes friends at a startlingly easy rate especially considering her extremely isolated upbringing and her reasons for keeping a low profile. She also is a postal worker. Sure, they call her a “liason” but really? She’s the mail lady. Yeah. Let’s also not forget that she is able to “cure” a traumatized shapeshifter that no one else has been able to reach for something like two years or so just by being his buddy, or how she befriended the most terrifying creature in the compound simply by making sure he got his mail-order dvd’s on time. No, really.
  • There was also quite a bit of slut-shaming going on, which I didn’t care for in the least.
  • There were many times where we were practically beaten over the head with the idea that the terra indigine were not the romanticized vampires/werewolves/etc. from the paranormal fiction that we are used to, and that they aren’t simply humans with “powers”.  And yet, there were many, many times where the “Other” status of some of the main characters was something to be forgotten, as though it were a trait like hair color or shoe size.  These are creatures that are at the top of the food chain and serve “special meat” at their delis. These are creatures that violently eat anyone who crosses their borders without permission — without waiting for their prey to actually die.  Creatures who see humans as prey and think nothing of destroying entire cities in retribution for a single incident against their kind.  Rather than really getting into their heads, and giving us an inhuman perspective when coming from their point of view, we got some very human responses from some of these creatures.
  • A minor issue for me, but definitely worth mentioning — there’s quite a bit of cutting in this book, and I would recommend those who find self-harm and/or cutting to be a trigger avoid this book like the plague.
  • There’s no sex. *pouts* This was a minor point, because this is an Urban Fantasy and not a Paranormal Romance. Even so, I do prefer there to be at least a little slap and tickle in books that I read.

I knew the moment that I finished this book that it would garner a lot of OMG-I-LOVED-IT reviews right alongside quite a few WHAT-THE-HELL-DID-I-JUST-READ ones. It definitely falls into the category of “love it or hate it”, and quite honestly, when I look back objectively, I’m actually surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did.

This has been a very difficult review to write, to be honest, because when I look back over the notes I took while I was reading, and when I add up the number of “negative” points to compare to the “positives”, I actually should have hated this book. Instead, I quite literally stayed up the entire night reading it because as cliched as it sounds, I simply couldn’t bring myself to put it down.

I think what I liked the most about this book isn’t necessarily the book itself — it’s the world that Ms. Bishop has created, and the immense potential for this series.  Don’t get me wrong — I liked the characters and the storyline that made up this book, though admittedly the day to day mundane narrative grated on my nerves at times, and Meg was so sweet it made my teeth hurt while reading it at times.

But what really grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go was the fascinating mythology surrounding not only the many forms of terra indigine, but of the cassandra sangue themselves. Perhaps I’ve just been reading the wrong things, but I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I am absolutely hooked. 

The biggest drawbacks of this story for me (other than the price and the fact that I have to wait so long for the sequel) are the fact that there is so much heavy detail on the day to day goings on in Meg’s life, and the fact that Meg is a pretty unremarkable character that for some miraculous reason brings out the protective instincts in pretty much everyone she meets. 

Meg’s innocence and naivete were taken to the extreme at times, and though it was explained well by the isolation she experienced in her very unconventional upbringing, there were times where she really needed to be shaken a few times.

However, even though there were things about Meg that I didn’t particularly care for, what I really loved was the idea that a single, somewhat ordinary person, would have touched so many lives in small, almost unintentional ways, that so many of these incredibly powerful creatures would be on the verge of practically ending the human race were she to come to harm.  It sounds ridiculous as I write that, and yet that was one of the things that I enjoyed the most as I read.

In the end, though, my final rating doesn’t depend on the number of things I liked versus the faults I was able to find when looking back on it.  Instead, what it boils down to is how I felt when I finished the final page, and as such, this one gets my highest rating, despite it’s many flaws, and I for one am dying to get my hands on the sequel.

5stars5/5 Stars