Thursday, June 14, 2012
"Ghost Crown" by J. Gabriel Gates & Charlene Keel
NOTE: I received this book to review from Netgalley.
Finally! I'm done with this book, and I can tell you, it feels like a huge weight was just taken off my shoulders. Now, you may think this means I didn't like the story or something. But then, you may notice my rating, and you might get slightly confused.
Truth is, I really LOVED this book. The only thing about it that sort of exhausted me was the count of its pages. 480 pages!!!!!!! To be honest, not a single one of them could be taken out, but still, that number sort of weigh a whole ton.
Anyway. So, when I began reading I had no idea "Ghost Crown" was book 2 in a series. It took me entire 20 pages to realize that. And then it took me another 50 pages to realize that I didn't actually need to know much about book 1, because the author did his job well. What I mean is that Mr. Gates and Ms. Keel placed the right reminders at the right spots, so as a new reader such as myself won't get confused at who is who and what had happened and why these people were together or not. You get the idea.
Now, with a hand on my heart I can say (or write) that the story was really great. It had just the right amount of paranormalcy, enough action to have your head spinning, and pretty good romance. Drama wasn't lacking, nor was danger. There was darkness and light and lots of confusion (for the characters, but not the reader). And that last scene with the battle... well, let's just say that I breezed through it like I was reading LOTR!! Yes, it was that good.
There was one thing I didn't like about the structuring though, and I hope that the hard copy version lacks this problem. It's that the POV's got switched without notification. It would've been nice to know that we aren't in Raphael's head anymore, or in Aimee's or Zhai's. Just a nice prompt as to who's POV we'd be switching to would've been enough. But sadly, that wasn't the case. Not in this eARC anyway.
I am thrilled to say that the characters here were VERY realistic. The good guys had flows of their own: some were selfish, others were too jealous. The bad guys - well at least some of them - had a good side as well, though the truly evil characters stayed evil to the end.
The only personality that I truly disliked was Jack Banfield, who was a ruthless man with no consideration to anyone, even the members of his own family. Everyone was a pawn in his grand scheme to control all good assets in Middleburg and nothing was important enough to keep him from his path of dominion. Perhaps the only good thing about him was that he had no supernatural powers. I can't even imagine him with powers. *shudders*
Not even the snake men repulsed me as much as Jack. Perhaps because they were just cold evil merciless killers, of whom nothing else could be expected but brutal murder no matter who the victim was. But I totally understood them - they're pure evil. They'd lived for centuries, and they were thirsty for wealth and life. But Jack? He was human, he was a father, and he was still as ruthless as them, as cold as them.. That just gave me the creeps.
There were a lot of characters in this book, each one with his/her own story and I was intrigued by each of them. Their transformations, character growth, hopes, desires and so on.
I must say that even though Raphael was sort of the lead male, I had my sympathies on Zhai. Not that Raph wasn't a nice guy or anything, I just liked Zhai better. He had this shyness about him and that sense of honor and he totally stroke a nerve in me. And when he was forced to transform into a ruthless person... well I ached for him, but at the same time I was glad that the author made his transformation realistic. I was expecting transformed Zhai to show some sort of compassion or something, but no. He was so well developed, it was obvious the author didn't want to spare him some hardships or truths or misery just because he loved the character. I love it when authors don't protect the characters. It's how it should be. So when Zhai was Zhai - he was really good, and brave and gentle. When he was transformed, he was like an evil indestructible force. It was amazing!
Raphael didn't do so bad as a character either. He just had the good fortune to remain himself 100% of the time. He was a strong character, but he also showed weakness. I think his job was to show that in love, even the strongest men become weak. That was cool. I loved his kung fu skills, and how he protected those he cared about. I loved his altruism and his concern for his family and crew and Aimee. And I was really glad he didn't just desert Aimee without getting an explanation from her for her spending time with Orias. I was impressed that he didn't just run into Maggie's open arms. It's rare to see such devotion in a guy.
Which brings me to Ignacio, who was also in a bad position - standing between his ex-gf Clarisse and Dalton, the girl he was in love with. Even though Clarisse was doing everything in her power to take Nass back, he never gave in to the temptation. He was a true and honorable guy, who didn't desert his leader (Raph) or his girl (Dalton) even when things looked and got bad.
Orias - well, what can I say about him? I thought he was just evil. Until Aimee actually stole his heart. And then the good in him sort of shone through. He was still evil in a way, but I could see that he wasn't two-dimensional. He had his own hardships, his own troubles, his own cares. But he still managed to get over them and open up to the brightness of love. We'll see exactly how true his intentions are in book 3 I guess.
Aimee's brother, Rick was a character I loathed. I really didn't understand why he was always so negative, so decided to fight the poor Flatliners. Well, that is until I saw him through Maggie's eyes. Then everything sort of explained itself. And I truly loathed him. There was nothing, not even marginally, good about him. He was like his father, Jack Banfield - ruthless and determined to have things go his way. I think he was a total waste of space, though he was a necessary character.
Now the girls:
Aimee was sort of the lead female, and I was so disappointed in her when she literally forgot Raph. Gosh, she totally frustrated me! In the last hundred or so pages, she couldn't even remember his face, or his name. True though, she remembered that there was someone important that she was forgetting. But she didn't know who. Which truly sucked. But of course I can't blame her. Being under Orias's influence can do tricky things to a person.
I think I liked Maggie the most of all girls. She had character, and even though she was a bit selfish, she wasn't really bad. She was real actually, and she wasn't afraid to show it. She wanted what she wanted and she was ready to get it however she could. And even though I was frustrated that she didn't do anything to help Aimee, I still understood where she was coming from.
Life wasn't easy on her, especially after she got the ghost crown on her head. What she was able to see and hear afterward - it was amazing that she found strength to handle it.
All other characters were sort of minor, so I won't really stop on them, but they were all really well developed. Not one of them was two-dimensional and that really made this book worth my rating.
I would recommend it to anyone who loves paranormal stories.
My rating is