This post will contain SPOILERS. If you are looking for the review please go here.
The usual review didn’t really cover all that I wanted to say about this book. I had so many notes, so much in my head and so much that I wanted to say. This post is a breakdown and chat (albeit one sided unless you comment) about the book and my impressions of it. It is spoiler filled, and probably a little ranty at times. Please feel free to join in the comments and discuss this book with me.
Tana Bach – Tana was one of my favourite characters in the entire book. Her mother was infected and hidden in the basement when she was young. Tana let her out and was bitten on the arm, and then had to watch her mother turn into a vampire and be beheaded by her father and a shovel. She accepts that those events, and the subsequent years of her father not really being there, have damaged her. She doesn’t let this damage stop her from living, and fighting to keep that happening.
Tana is amazingly strong. When she finds all of her friend’s dead, her ex-boyfriend chained to a bed, and a strange vamp boy in the corner of the room she wants to break down into hysteria. I love the scenes where she is simply willing herself forward and telling herself to wait for the right time. It is that same emotional strength that keeps making her go back to help people. She wants to survive but she also wants to save everyone else.
Tana is pretty kick-ass but still really realistic for a seventeen year old girl. The things that she does don’t always turn out right. The scene where she fires an arrow at Lucien is a perfect example. She tells herself over and over not to pause, yet she pauses. She fires, and misses the heart. Exactly like a teenage girl with little to no experience of using a crossbow would. She’s imperfect and I like that so much.
Aiden – Ugh. I have so much to say about this boy and not much of it is very nice. He is cocky, arrogant and annoying. He dated Tana after telling her stories about all of these “Crazy” ex girlfriends that he had. He tells her that he doesn’t want another one who tells him what to do or yells when he does something she doesn’t like. He wanted a “cool girlfriend” so Tana tried to be the coolest version of herself she could to please him. Then he went all out stupid. He kissed other girls and partied all of the time, making her watch. He challenged her to kiss other boys. He went all out to make her blow up and scold him so he could dump her. When she didn’t, he dumped her anyway. Who does that? Nasty pieces of work do that.
As a vampire he is no better. He steals Tana’s marker, trapping her in coldtown, twice. Both times to ensure he had someone tied to him because he didn’t want to be alone. Then as soon as there was somebody else… poof, Tana was on her own and he was nowhere to be seen.
Gavriel – I liked Gavriel, I just wish we had seen more of him in the story instead of all in flashbacks. His backstory was amazing (more on that later) but I would have loved to have seen more of him with Tana in the main story.
Lucien – I actually felt kind of sorry for him. He was probably the worst bad guy, and the least nasty, I have ever seen. Maybe this was because the vampires in this book are badass vamps. They kill, they feed and they do what vampires do. Lucien just sort of watches. If it wasn’t for his backstory I would have considered him a total puppydog. This softness worked well for him though because it covered the fact that he was two-faced, vindictive and evil in a double-cross sort of way. Lucien’s slyness was what made him the bad guy here.
Midnight – I saved the worst for last. I really didn’t like her. She was shallow, two-dimensional and cliche. She should have died in the parking lot when Aiden jumped in for a quick snack.
This story was so unique. I couldn’t put my finger on why at first. It kept me guessing for most of the book and kept the pages turning. Then, somewhere around three quarters of the way through it hit me. The story is not Tana’s!
The story, up until a point, is the story of Gavriel and Lucien, of their history and of Gavriel’s rage and search for revenge after being locked up and tortured by an ancient evil called the spider for a decade. It is unique because we see most of it through Tana’s eyes. Right up until the stories collide and she steals Gavriel’s revenge, it is not about her. I love that it is bigger than her from the very beginning.
Another thing that I really adored was the realism. Tana kept destroying her clothing and having to get new. She kept track of her cash and how she was spending it. She used a solar charger to charge her phone. As a reader I didn’t feel like I was expected to just believe things. Nothing was left to imagination or fantasy. At the same time Holly didn’t sugar coat things or baby the reader at all. Nothing was overblown, just hinted and settled nicely and naturally into the story.
It flowed amazingly.
One, very short chapter drifted by me midway through the book. At the first read it didn’t make sense. Later, as I read something else, the chapter bounced into my head and instantly made sense. That, for me, is the sign of an excellent piece of writing. When a thread suddenly ties up and I loudly cry “Oh yeah! That makes sense!” so loud that I wake up my partner, child and next door neighbour.
I will definitely be re-reading this book. I adored it from the first line to the last. But my favourite part was definitely the ending.
After a whole book of dark, gore and huge climaxes, the quiet ending and the hint of romance was heartbreakingly beautiful. I wanted Gavriel and Tana to get closer right through the book. The little scenes here and there were like tasters of what was to come, but the full meal didn’t arrive until the last few paragraphs. I adored it, I still adore it. I want more!
This book is a standalone. It all ties up nicely and there isn’t much room for a series without squeezing too much out of it. My hopes for the future is to see it turned into a movie.
I will also definitely be reading more from Holly Black as she is a new-to-me author.