Wicked Lovely

I asked Cyna of You're Killing Me to suggest some books.  I wanted something well-written, sexy, and page-turny--something, in short, that didn't make me want to take a cheese grater to my brain.  She delivered when she told me about Wicked Lovely, the story of fairy/faerie/faerie love, lust, war. 

I burned through them all so quickly that I'm massively behind in singing their praises.  After much deliberation, I've decided that each novel in the series should get its own post because each is different enough in plot and character that I have to separate them for my own sanity.  If I didn't, I'd be like a six-year-old:  "And then...and then...and then...and then..."

DISCLAIMER:  I may get a few details mixed up between the novels as I go.  That's what happens when you read five books and then sit down to write about them two weeks later.  Oh, well.

  • Controlled writing.  Ms. Marr is a writer.  There's a distinction to be made:  Mellisa Marr = Writer; P. C. Cast/Daughter Cast = hacks.  As I read WL, I smelled stuff, heard stuff, felt stuff--and each sensory detail I devoured actually meant something.  Before writing WL, she had taught community college for 12 years (my sister in pain!), so she knows how to weave a metaphor, knows what story is, is conscious of pace, and knows how to use a goddamn comma.  When I sit down to read a novel, I don't want to feel like I'm reading a giant e.e. cummings poem.  
  • Characters.  While the novel stays true to the parapseudo formula, each character is unique enough that I don't feel like I'm reading Jane Eyre for the 35th time.  Everyone has a great juxtaposition of characteristics.  Aislinn = reckless/cautious.  Seth = independent/protective.  Keenan = conniving/sentimental.  Nial = tortured/vengeful.  Irial = sadomasochistic/romantic.  You get the idea.  Donia = lost/transformative.  There's really a reason to both hate and love each person/fairy.
  • Conflict.  Aislinn couldn't be more teenagerly perfect.  She's got boy problems, friend problems, family problems, sexuality issues.  The only thing missing is insecurity over her belly fat or a dying dog.  Keenan's in quite a bind, and readers will find that they want him to win, even at the cost of everyone else losing.  Seth is being set up for the loss of a lifetime (or so he thinks), and he's gotta deal with massive disappointment on the tail of fighting for his penetration rights.  The conflicts deepen and resolve seamlessly; great forethought on the author's part makes this possible, as without proper plotting, it could be a nightmare.
  • Cunnilingus.  That's right.  Oral sex.  Teen girls do that, ya know.  And they like it!  Bravo, Ms. Marr.
  • Tainted fairy tale.  Whereas Holly Black's Valiant doesn't actually play too much with the fairy tale conventions, WL is a near-perfect modernization of the traditional form.  You could hold it next to many of the old Germanic and Scandinavian tales, and it would fit right in.  There are royal beasts, fantastic realms, natural magical forces, light/dark powers, humans manipulated by hidden creatures, and all the other good stuff that we dream about and fear when we're kids.  WL could easily be the story a dad tells his kids in parts as he tucks them in at night or a campfire story that has everyone running off to cower and/or have sex in their tents.
  • Feminist themes.  The feminine powers balance the masculine powers at almost all levels.  I'm not talking about Aislinn's need to be loved making her a weak character vs. sex-charged men feminism.  I mean the feminine and masculine on equal fields of power, control, respect, desire, conflict.  Love it.
  • Point-of-view slips.  Overall, the omniscience is controlled remarkably well considering how many heads we flit between.  Sometimes, though, perceptive shifts threw me off.  For example, if we're in ABC's thoughts, we flip to DEF's eyes for just a second to comment on ABC's posture.  And then back to ABC again for the rest of the time.  It can be distracting and a cause a re-read, which I hate doing.
  • Thoughts intertwined with prose.  This is Ms. Marr's signature (as I'm fining out while reading Graveminder, her new novel).  I don't like to harp on a writer's style--especially a massively great author--but the way thoughts mingle with regular stuff is weird.  The character will be noticing something, and then an italicized line will appear--a thought.  Example:  "The duck saw the piece of bread floating. It had been so long since Ducky had gobbled up a piece of food. My stomach aches for nourishment.  Ducky charged up his webbed feet and dashed across the pond."
  • The fairy kingdom's name.  Faery.  Huh?  Fairies are from Faery?  That's like saying people are from Person.  It annoyed me almost as much as "poopy" from The House of Night series.
  • Research.  Obviously the author knows her stuff.  But I want to know it, too.  What's a rowan? What's a Scrimshaw Sister?  There's other stuff, too, but since I never really knew what it was, I don't remember now what it was called.  I love an author who researches, but as a reader, I don't want to take time to look it up myself.  Context lets you figure it out to a certain extent, but I'd like some history (especially since in later installments lineage and culture seem to matter so much).
  • Freaky character names.  Bananach?  I eventually just called her Banana as I read.  Yeah, and is her name Banana or War?  Depends on which sentence you're reading, I guess.  Aislinn?  Is that AYslinn or EYEslinn?  And how is her nickname Ash?  Why not just always call her Ash?  And then among all that are Seth and Leslie, which makes the name thing even more of an issue.


On a Roll

I've recently busted through seven books--working on my eighth.  I imagine I'll get through about 10 before I'm able to post again.  By then, though, finals will be over, and I'll be able to slam all 10 out while I bask in my freedom from paper grading and tearful student begging.

On deck:  All the Wicked Lovely novels, Need, all the Vampire Academy novels.

Back to my self-pitying hell...



The cover of this novel lies.  When I first unpacked it, I hmphed and took it right over to my mother's.  I'm tired of reading novels with girls' half-faces on them.  It's depressing--because if half a face is that remarkably gorgeous, then the rest of the face on a perfect neck on a pair of milky shoulders on a flawless body alienates me from the teen world even more.

Still, it's what's between the covers that counts, right?  This time, yes.

This is a story about some woofs and their follies.  (I'm trying to diversify my parapseudo consumption to include all forms of freaky beings, but so far, it's woofs, vamps, faeries, and unclassified immortals.  I guess that's the sexy stuff the kids go for.)  Woof clans and their wacky mating rituals makes for an interesting backdrop to yet another story of a girl tortured by her longing for two boys.

  • Believable teenagers. And they go through believable teenage problems.  Yes, they're woofs and whatnot, but they have to deal with hormones, popularity, relationships, bucking tradition.  None of the junk that I compare to Dawson's Creek, where the kids are smarter than any 15-year-old ever bred (except, I guess, Doogie Hauser).
  • Conflict.  There's nothing like a story of a character with tooth-grindingly difficult choices to make.  The protag, Calla, has to choose between her heritage, her loins, her heart, and her freedom.  I like that.  I also like that the story has guaranteed that whichever choice she makes will piss someone off in a big way.  
  • Characters.  I actually care for once.  I don't know why.  It's not like these characters are any different from the other parapseudo kids.  There's a dynamic that moves their relationships along, though, and each relationship's dynamic is unique.  Calla is a rebel, shirking everyone's expectations.  Ren is a real surprise, different from the usual jerk who tempts the brainless girl toward her demise.  Shay is a great distraction for both of them.  The best part?  They're all hornier than hell, and they're not afraid to go for it in the girls' bathroom!
  • Socially relevant.  There's racial, class, gender, sexuality, and institutional implications throughout, catapulting the story leagues above many of the other parapseudos I've so gladly buzzed through.  The richie riches control the workers.  The workers think they're doing their part for a tradition the richies have convinced them is symbiotic.  There are closeted gays taken advantage of by other closeted gays.  Alpha women bowing to alpha men.  Outsiders being initiated by the powerful.  It's fun!
  • Evil undercurrent.  Even when things seem to be going the right way, there's a darkness that lingers in the shadows.  No, really.  There are shadows that are evil.  Wraiths, actually.  You know.  Evil shadows.  Anyway, they're pretty scary--but could be a lot scarier.  I want to see the wraiths in action.  Don't close the door!  I want to see why they're legendary.  There are also scary succubi and incubi that emerge from the walls--sort of.  And some of the leaders are just Satan.
  • Woof stuff.  When the characters are in their woof forms, they crave hot, bloody meat, so they take down deer and rip into them.  Hahahaha!  It's radical.
  • Giant spider.
  • Forced sequel purchase.  It pretty much ends at the climax.  Readius interruptus.
  • Calla's mother.  She's too fluffy to have raised such a strong young woman.  She's all about lace and tradition.  And she's scared of all the richie riches.
  • No important deaths.  There's a lot of possibility, but no one worthwhile dies.  Not that I wanted Shay or Ren to bite it--but how about a beta woof or an important relationship?
  • Too many secondary characters.  They blend together until the very end--and even then, I don't really know who's who or who likes what or who is the higher ranking woof.
  • Setting.  I want more, as usual.  When I teach creative writing, I encourage students to pay keen attention to setting, as it's often more important than secondary characters in indicating key changes in plot, characterization, and conflict.  Okay.  Enough of that.  I just want to see, hear, smell, and touch every damn place--even a library!  Actually, especially the library in this case because some serious emotional and physical damage takes place there.
I like this woof story a lot.  In fact, I think I like it more than Linger, which is pretty lame, considering Shiver is one of my favorite parapseudos out of the trove.  The sexy is quiveringly sexy.  And sexy.  Goosebumps.  Wait...is my saying so constituted as child porn?  I hope not.  If so, please contact Cyna.



Ms. Noel has accomplished a grand feat in her Immortals series.  She has surpassed The House of Night and the Twilight saga as the lamest in the Mariana Trench of lameness.  God, that sounds mean.  I don't mean it to be.  Some parapseudo authors would love to be among the ranks of such bestsellers.

In the tradition of my Blue Moon: Review in Haiku!, I had planned on writing a sonnet about the unfurling love story of Ever and Damen.  I got about 8 lines in before I realized that it was demanding 10,000 times more thinking power than reading the novel did, and since I'm not getting paid for my creative writing expertise, I quit.

For future reference, "masturbate" is a great match for "consummate" when you're dealing with iambic pentameter about teens who can't knock boots.

Just a quick plot update:  Ever and Damen can't exchange any DNA or Damen will burn up, so no kissing and other hanky-panky; Roman lurks around and moves in on Haven, Ever's gothical blue-banged friend; Jude--dreadlocked, tanned, toned, and only slightly imperfect (apparently, he didn't visit the orthodontist)--emerges on the scene as yet another young man who wants to diddle Ever.

THE MERIT (Yes, only one this time)
  • Humor.  Though it's unintentional, the author threw some pretty funny stuff on the page.  For example, since Ever and Damen can no longer swap spit, Ever gets lost in Damen's telepathic embraces and melts into his telepathic kisses.  Hahahahahahaha!  See?  That's the funny stuff for sure.
  • Dudes.  Instead of bringing another guy into the already annoying mix, why not just work on wrapping things up with the ones we've grown to despise?  What's the point of further complicating a love triangle by constructing some sort of love trapezoid?
  • More of the same.  They pine.  They grumble about pining.  They look for a way to be together.  They question their loyalties.  The end.
  • Manifesting.  Cheap trick.  They can just use the immortal power (why are they like Superman?) to conjure up anything they want.  Ever manifests a Lamborghini when she needs to drive fast.  They manifest plasma screens and images of people--images so real that they can dance a minuet with them.  But then there's this one scene that pissed me off.  So Ever manifests herself a parking place in downtown Laguna Beach--a place notorious for no parking and quarter-hungry meters.  Wouldn't she have to extend the sidewalk for that?  How does one just add a parking space when there's no road left to occupy?  Even worse, when she gets out of her car, she has to feed the meter.  Huh?  Why would she manifest a meter?  And then why didn't she manifest one that was always full?  And then why didn't she manifest the quarters to push in?  
  • The Twilight trick.  It's almost as bad as "It was all a dream."  I'll call it the Psychic Condom.  Damen manifests a mind film that allows them to touch and kiss and cry on each other without fear of flaming Damen to hell (a.k.a. Shadowland)--just like Bella's massively important special vampish power turns out to be a giant psychic jelly shield.  Therefore, Ever and Damen are free to get it on whenever they want.  Very, very lame.
  • Writing.  I really almost can't take it.  It hurts me in the way that freshman composition research papers hurt me--deep in my soul, where no spectacular psychic condom can save me.  I can't really blame Ms. Noel for this, though.  Her editor must be shit.  I can see that what she's trying to do with the adverbial phrases.  I really can.  But it's annoying when 1/3 of the whole damn story is written in distracting sentence fragments.  And then there's the flipside:  the hideous comma splice.  It has no place in a story that sells on a bookshelf with the brag-line of "The New York Times Bestselling Author."  
  • No one ever goes to the damn Shadowland.  In fact, all we see of it was a quick Spock-like mind-meld, blink-of-an-eye glimpse.  And it's basically just a dark, lonely hole that one falls into (somewhat like reading the novel...).
I really could go on, but I don't want to.  Shadowland is a bummer, and the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get.  This novel may be the one that breaks my rule of finishing all series that I begin.  I don't care about what happens to Ever, Damen is no longer sexy, Roman is a caricature, and Jude is boring.  Without at least one sympathetic character, a story has nothing.  And no matter how many new characters an author pops into a plot, that doesn't change.