Monday, June 23, 2014

The Immortal Crown - Review

The Immortal Rules (Age of X, # 2)

By: Richelle Mead

Published: May 29th 2014 by Dutton Adult

432 pages

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Paranormal

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.

I didn’t love Gameboard of the Gods. It wasn’t bad. There was just a lot to learn about the world, and overall the book felt very slow to me. That being said, I requested The Immortal Crown because I had faith that Richelle Mead would pick things up and once the story got moving then I’d be hooked. However, that didn’t mean I was dying to pick up The Immortal Crown immediately when I got it.

The Immortal Crown was STILL really slow for me. It wasn’t until the 50% mark that I started really getting interested in what was going on, and truly not until the 60% mark when I actually felt hooked. This is so odd to me because I’m usually sucked into Richelle Mead’s books fairly quickly. Maybe it was because work has been really stressful lately, but I literally found myself dozing off every single time I picked up this book until I hit 50%. It took me 9 days to finish The Immortal Crown and while the book itself isn’t exactly small, I also can’t really remember the last time it took me 9 days to finish a fiction book (aside from one of the A Song of Ice and Fire books). Despite the slow beginning, The Immortal Crown packed a lot of action in the last 40%.

Richelle Mead writes from multiple POVs in this series, but it often feels like none of the characters are actually narrating. Sometimes, I feel like some ambiguous third party is the one describing the events. Maybe that’s because the POV wasn’t always clear as it was supposed to be. The Immortal Crown isn’t a first person narrative even when the focus is on a particular character. Maybe this is what keeps me from connecting as much to this series. I'm just not sure.

The characters really grew on me from how I felt about them after reading Gameboard of the Gods. Justin started out in a place where I wasn’t loving his character. He reminds me of Sherlock Holmes. While being utterly brilliant and a master at deduction and manipulation, he also relies on vices to get him through the day to day. Justin grew on me in The Immortal Crown. I couldn’t agree with all of his decisions, but he had Mae’s back explicitly. He jumped in and protected her when she needed it.

Mae has always been likable to me. She fits the strong female leads that Richelle Mead is known for. She’s smart and strong. She’s capable of taking care of herself and others. She’s a protector at heart. And she’s even a warrior. I was happy that Mae was able to evaluate that if Justin can misinterpret her at times then it’s possible that she’s misinterpreted him in the past as well. I was afraid she’d be angry and bitter toward him for too long, but that wasn’t the case. Mae learns that she can trust Justin to have her back when she needs it the most. And yet everything isn’t quite the way she’d like with him either. They make a good team, but in the end Mae might be a little hasty in jumping in out to protect Justin. I’m a little fearful of where things left off with Mae. While she might be smart, she doesn’t have the knowledge that Justin has about the different gods and the mythology surrounding them.

Unlike Mae, Tessa is a character that I’ve struggled with for a bit. For her to be so bright, even at times being referred to as a mini-Justin, she sure seemed to miss the obvious to me in this installment. How she couldn’t see from early on that Daphne wouldn’t be any friend to her or would have ulterior motives is beyond me. Any reader would be able to spot that within seconds. Tessa’s sections weren’t as interesting to me, and when the narration would swap to her I always found myself sighing a bit. I knew Richelle Mead would weave Tessa’s storyline into the overall plot, but it just wasn’t as interesting to me. Overall, by the end of the book I found myself thinking that her part was a lot of work for a small—at least at this point—piece of the puzzle.

As the description says, the elect have really stepped up their game. For the longest time, I was wondering where this big war was going to come in, but then it seemed like four others were revealed within the last 40% or so of the book. I’d love to tell you who they are, but that’s part of the process and you just have to read the book to find out for yourselves.

I feel like I really haven’t even touched on the events of the book itself, but the description really does do a good job of telling you what you need to know there. All in all, I ended up enjoying The Immortal Crown even though it took me a really long time to get hooked into the story. The characters and plot are set up just perfectly for the next (and last????) book in the series. I can see Richelle Mead putting the pieces of the puzzle in their proper places and even though I wasn’t hooked early on like I would like to be, Richelle Mead is the master at setting up and executing a series. The Immortal Crown gets 3.5 Stars from me. Have you read The Immortal Crown? What did you think? Let me know!

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