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le 5 août 2014
I don't usually write reviews out of lazyness mostly, but also because I feel like they serve little purpose as ultimatimately people can decide for themselves if they like something or not. I am making an exception for this book and here's why. Kresley Cole seems to be very Internet and marketing savvy. I'll bet she's aware and perhaps even reads her readers' reviews and I really hope that she reads this one (slim chances, but hey, I'm feeling optimistic today).
It's not that I didn't like the book. In absolute terms it was an ok book, with ok characters and an (you guessed it) ok story. The problem is of course that I've read other books by this author, better, more compelling books (Carrow's, Emma's, Conrad's books). These were books I enjoyed, books I could recommend to my friends and especially books I could reread at my leisure. And herein lies the problem. If this were a separate incident, I'd be less likely to react, but this would be the 4th book in a row (it all started with the absolute crapfest that was Regin's book) where I've felt like the overall quality of the series has been slipping and it's made me incredibly sad. I don't know if this is just the inevitable demise of a series on it's 14th installment or whether it is the result of Kresley Cole stretching herself too thin (the Professional? Really? The Dacians? WTF? The Dacians book was bad, but I wasn't as invested in that series as I am in IAD! The Arcana Chronicles? The jury's still out on that one, but only because the worlbuilding is quite fascinating and very much in spite of the love triangle that seems to manifest itself in every single YA book these days). In truth, I resent the author. By trying her hand at too many artistic venues, I feel like she's lost what made her initial series worthwhile.
On to Dark Skye. My biggest issue with this book is the utter uselessness of the main heroine. I get it. Lanthe is a sorceress, one of the physically weakest loreans. It also doesn't help that she has Vreckener PTSD as she calls it. But the girl does nothing, but wait to be rescued all through the book. And I'd be more forgiving if like Emma she would have at least one redeeming moment in the book, but up until the end, Lanthe does nothing. Her proactive actions are: put some Pravus members to sleep (that is not a euphemism: she literally makes them nap), steal some keys to some portals (by walking in and out of caves: Kresley Cole herself doesn't think this is something very important since we only get descriptions of her entering and exiting the caves and nothing in between), open a couple of portals (the second time, after being saved/ compelled and guided by Thronos), flirt with a sea God (which doesn't even help her, because he tricks her anyway), write some diplomatic letters, pull a lever, fix Thronos' injuries and persuade Thronos to remember who she is. AND THAT IS IT. This is so incredibly frustrating. The freaking Queen of Persuasion's greatest manifestation of power consists of curing muscle pain and a bout of forgetfulness. I get that this a genre trope (alpha heroes are hot these days), but in that case, why not make Lanthe human or powerless. Why talk so much about her lost powers and about the prophecy surrounding their resurgence of you're not going to elaborate. Even Lothaire's Elizabeth did something (an accidental beheading is still higher on my list of badassness than key-stealing).
This is a general problem. I've noticed that Kresley Cole isn't great at writing strong heroines. Even when she writes about Valkyries (which are by her own account strong and resilient), she is constantly putting them in a position where they need saving rather than doing the saving themselves. And it made sense storywise for her to do this with Holly and to a lesser degree with Emma, but when Regin the freaking Radiant relies on a barely-Lorean to survive, you know something's wrong. I'm not saying that Kresley Cole hates strong women, but I don't think she really understands them. I know she thinks that she does: the ineer workings of the Lanthe-Thronos couple towards the end of Dark Skye are her way of putting these two on an equal footing, but why do this at a point where parity involves letter writing for goodness' sake?
Granted, nothing could be worse than Kresley's treatment of Chloe (NOTHING), but I don't want to chance it at a point in the series when a book about Nix might be in the works. If Kresley continues in her flawed depiction of strong women, I dread to see what she'll do to my favourite Valkyrie.
Gender issues aside, I wanted to add one more thing about the story in general.It felt lazy and rushed. It made me laugh when the characters themselves referred to their story as "epic" (multiple times), like Kresley Cole didn't quite believe it herself. I wasn't intrigued by the story and only read through the second half of the book because I kinda had to finish it, not because I was actually into it. After some fairly bland adventures through various portals, Lanthe and Thronos return to Skye and to a very anticlimatic conclusion. There's no villain, because he's already been killed, no real intrigue (see the part about the villain). Even the one thing that could have been slightly interesting, Lanthe's reunion with Sabine was completely glossed over. The book lacked humanity I guess. I didn't believe in any of it: Lanthe's love for Thronos (I'm thinking she would have married any guy who stuck around the day after), Thronos' love for Lanthe (the fact that her death saddens you doesn't mean you love her, dude), Lanthe's love for Sabine. It all feel contrived and untrue.
In conclusion, I'm not telling people to not read the book. It's a good book with some adventures and a bit of character growth. It does move the Ascension story forward (Nix's chapter, the other 2 dimensions Lanthe and Thronos visited on their way to the Skye). What I'm saying is, Ms Cole, if, by some miracle, you do read this review, please believe me when I say that a strong heroine and a true partnership between equals is not a deterrent to your coveted public. I promisse you that this will not hurt your business model.