Ink Exchange/Fragile Eternity/Radiant Shadows/Darkest Mercy

I decided to slam the other four Wicked Lovely novels together and treat them as one continuous story--which they are, of course--because it's been too long to discern which faery antics belong to which.  I'll make a quick comment on each before I launch into my bullets, but I may get some details mixed up along the way.  Blame my laziness and the giant coffee sitting next to me.

Ink Exchange
Taking a break from the regulars worked well for me.  By the end of WL, I'd had enough of the love triangle of Keenan-Aislynn-Seth, and since Niall was (at the time) my favorite character, I delighted in the new subplot.  Also, I like tattoos.  The Niall-Leslie-Irial triangle in IE develops darkly.  By the end of the story, we learn why Niall rules so much, and it's not because he's some sort of angelic hero.  Irial is deliciously manipulative, and the subplot wraps up neatly, but not Hollywood neatly.

Fragile Eternity
Apparently, the war is coming.  (Remember, there's a difference between "war" and "War.")  At first, I was looking forward to returning to the Keenen-Aislynn-Seth triangle, but suddenly in this novel, it's some sort of love trapezoid.  Maybe even love amoeba.  I was invested in the characters and engrossed in the Marr world, but I got bored with the drawn-out tension.  I get it:  there's a war coming, there's massive heartache on the horizon, war is coming, everyone has to make difficult decisions, and war is coming. Also, War (a.k.a. Banana) is coming, and she's gonna bring some war with her.  By the end (which isn't really an end), I felt like FE is a placeholder novel.  I liked the evil side of Niall, but Donia started to annoy me--although it's cool when she stabs Aislynn.  Half the time, I wanted to stab her, too.

Radiant Shadows
Devlin.  Ani.  LOVE THEM.  This is my favorite of the series.  Devlin's the most interesting character of all, and I love what Marr did with him.  Ani's his perfect mate.  It's Happily Ever After stuff.  This novel also had the most extreme plot points of all.  New and shattered courts.  Evil Banana plotting to destroy the universe.  Sorcha's stupidity threatening everything.  Love lost, love percolating, love destroying souls.  It renewed my excitement for the series, and it threw me.  It's a perfect ramp up to the final novel.  Bravo!

Darkest Mercy
The breath that I'd held so sweetly after RS came out as a Ppppfffftttttpppplll, not a fulfilled sigh.  Lame!  Not that I hated this novel or anything, but it sure wasn't satisfying as a conclusion to such a rich series.  I hate to say it, but it feels like a rush job, like Marr was done and wanted to move on.

Speaking of moving on...

The bullets here are comments on all four novels, and in some cases, the entire WL story.  Most of my comments from the first novel review still work, but some have changed. 

  • Writing.  Can anyone else in the genre write like this woman?  Not that I've experienced so far.  She is, as I mentioned before, a true writer, an artist, wordsmith, whatever you wanna call it.  Moody, descriptive, clear, engaging, beautifully dark.  I imagine that's what the gothicals feel every time they're doing the Heavy Bowling Ball dance to some Peter Murphy-inspired music.  
  • Balance.  Each character has his or her own importance to the story.  Even many of the secondary characters are developed and mean something to the momentum of the plot. 
  • Loss.  Too many of these parapseudos don't have enough loss.  In Twilight, Bella says something about having experienced so much loss--huh?  Besides her self-worth, I don't know what she's talking about.  Here, though, we have loss of identity, loss of love, loss of life, loss of hope, loss of virginity (woo!), loss of control.  All Southern California readers will identify with all of these losses, as we experience them daily.
  • Mythos.  Marr gets it, and she delivers.  Her courts, her creatures, her social strata, her sense of fairy tale convention--all of it works to create a complete mythos, independent of all other wannabes in the genre.
  • Aislynn burning Seth's sides because she flamed him while riding him.  Hahahahaha!
  • Keenan's sacrifice.  
Disclaimer:  I say "disappointments" because I'd feel weird calling this section something snarky.  This series deserves better than that!  Mostly. 
  • Aislynn.  By FE, Aislynn's waffling starts to get annoying.  DM doesn't do much to assuage it.  She has a sudden burst of all-powerfullness at the end, but by that time, other characters are outshining her, which is lame--she is, after all, supposed to be the center of the plot...right? 
  • Notable absences from the final showdown.  Where the hell's Devlin?  Sorcha?  Why aren't they there to defend their new courts?  Why isn't Sorcha there to battle her freak sister?
  • Sorcha/Seth.  This is just weird.  I don't like to spoil stuff, but how Seth's calling Sorcha "Mother" is a twist I couldn't get into.  
  • Dissipation of feminist themes.  By the end, they're stilted and fit into the humdrum of the rest of the blahblah of the genre I've read so far.  I suppose you could make an argument for the female characters' equality among the courts' leaderships, but they all ache for men and let those aches get in the way of better judgment.  (All except Banana, that is.)
  • Not enough teen sex.  I'm sorry, but I want some loin-twitches when I read these things.  The swelling heart doesn't do it for me...especially since cunnilingus rocked it in WL
  • Talking car/steed.  What's the point of Ani's steed?  Seriously.  Is it some sort of big bro who watches out for her?  What a weird addition to the cast--and maybe even a missed opportunity for evil-doing.
  • Non-contracted faery-talk.  At what point did Aislynn and Seth take speech lessons from a Victorian robot?  I have a hard time imagining a pierced freaky boy saying, "Mother, I do not wish to disappoint you, but I must return."  Is this the same person who went all oral on Aislynn and lived in an abandoned train?  And why does Aislynn have to get all formal when she gains confidence?  These are still teenagers--immortal teenagers, yes, but still.  
  • Niall + Irial = Nairial.  Not into it.  It's a cop out.  By "it," I mean the Body Snatcher bullshit that conveniently transpires when lovely Irial "dies."  I'd rather lose one of my favorite characters than have some sort of bizarro Lazarus thing.
  • Banana's defeat.  Even though the balances shift with the new courts, I still think it's lame that Sorcha didn't battle Banana.  Why the build up then?  Does Devlin really balance Sorcha that well?  Who exactly is Banana's balance?  Aislynn?  Also, it was too easy to beat Banana.  I wanted something much more sinister.  In fact, I would've liked it if Banana were impossible to destroy.
  • Hollywood ending.  Nothing else to say about that.
I reserve the right to add more to this later.  I'm still thinking about WL as I read other series, so it's definitely worth a lot of talk.  Though I was disappointed with the ending of the series, I think it's one that I'll revisit someday.  I'd like to experience the characters again, especially since I know their destinations.

Side note:  I also read Marr's new adult novel, Graveminder.  It gave me a renewed appreciation for WL and its depth.  I hope Marr's not the kind of novelist who hits it with the first few and then belts out a bunch of crapola for the rest of her career.  She's freaky as a person, and I'd like more of that to come through in her future work.

I'm Team Shadow Court, by the way.  Step off.

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