Thursday, 21 January 2010

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

December 2009, Walker Books
320 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Young Adult, 14+, fantasy (vampires)

Cushions: 2
Daggers: 1
Paperclips: 4
Smiles: 1
Tissues: 1
Yunaleska's overall rating: ♥♥♥

Summary from Walker Books

CLASSIFIED ADS: WANTED Personal assistant to Her Royal Highness. Duties: Whatever is asked, without hesitation, including but not limited to secretarial / administrative, household, defence, blood donation, driving, companionship, prey disposal, and love slavery. At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high school theatre wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight. Meanwhile, Zachary, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, demoted to human guise as the princess’s personal assistant, must try to save his girl’s soul before all hell arrives, quite literally, on their castle doorstep. In alternating points of view, vampire Miranda and angel Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous love story for the ages.

I'm enjoying reading books with vampires in right now. Before I read the book, I was intrigued as to how a guardian angel could turn back a vampire. Unfortunately the book didn't grab me as a reader. I nearly set the book down because in the first chapter Zach, the guardian angel, came across like a stalker in the worst sense of the word. He watches his charge all the time - including personal time in the bathroom. This didn't strike me as very guardian angel-y. He falls for his charge, who gets turned into a vampire.

I looked forward to seeing the transitionary period where Miranda loses her humanity after being turned. That didn't really happen - the time leapt a few months (then a year), with some reflection by Miranda - which was believable - but I felt like I'd missed out on the character change.

The other big area which didn't hook me was the relationship between Miranda and Zach. By the end they did care for each other, but for a lot of the story Miranda didn't really know Zach existed, she certainly didn't know who he was, and a lot of the romance element was one-sided. Stalker-type obsession doesn't feel like romance to me.

I did really like the secondary characters, Miranda's servants, who have good hearts inside them and do the right thing eventually. I thought the blog posts from Miranda's friend chatting about how Miranda was missing was really clever, looking just like a typical blogger post - including link and comments button and time/date of posting. Another cool feature were the sporadic ads/notices between chapters. The ending was well written: I liked how Zach uses his guardian angel power and the concept of the other angels staying in touch with him.

The characterisation of Zach and Miranda spot on in some places, but for a lot of it they didn't meet the expectation I had of them. I'm pretty open minded with books, and try to avoid having an idea of what the story will be like. For Eternal, I just didn't gel with all the story, or consistently with the characters. It might be that I wasn't in the right mood for the book when I read it. Unusually it was the secondary elements, rather than the primary ones (both characters and events) which kept me reading.

Like Guardian Angels? Try Fallen, by Lauren Kate (to be reviewed soon)


Sasha said...

I definitely agree with this review :) I didn't like it much either x

Yunaleska said...

I will continue to read Cynthia's work.

I don't enjoy disliking a book. I'm a little relieved that this wasn't a case of me being in the wrong mood for it.

Becky said...

I shall have to accept that this book does not meet expectations. I am just so disappointed because I cannot tell you how much I wanted it to be good. *sad face* A very fair review.

Yunaleska said...

Thanks Becky.

Melissa said...

A lovely, honest review. I'm not sure this is on the top of my TBR pile haha :)

Pam said...

I saw this cover and thought "that looks familiar", I read it at the beginning of last year. It was a good try. Miranda and Zach both had good qualities but for me the author didn't give the great plot ideas or the characters a place to shine.