Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Soul Thief by Jana Oliver

I know I am a less frequent poster than many bloggers, but I will be posting even less frequently than normal during October and November. I am writing college essays and sending applications during October and participating in NaNoWriMo during November.

Title: Soul Thief
Author: Jana Oliver
Publisher: Macmillan/St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Pages: 324 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured--her boyfriend, Simon, gravely so--and now her beloved late father's been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that's not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling-hot freelance demon hunter who's made himself Riley's unofficial bodyguard, and beck, a super-overprotective "friend" who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, the seventeen-year-old is almost ready to leave Atlanta behind.

But as Atlanta's demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends it own demon hunters to take care of the city's "little" problem and pandemonium breaks out. Only Riley knows that she might be at the center of Hell's attention: An extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever...


The disaster of the Tabernacle attack has left a third of the Demon Trappers Guild dead and the Geo-Fiend that did it, the same Geo-Fiend that killed Riley's dad, is still on the loose. Demon hunters from the Vatican have been called in to help take care of the demon problem and their methods are... Well, it's not an exaggeration to say they're burnt cities to kill demons. Meanwhile, Riley's boyfriend Simon is acting strangely accusing her of being evil. Ori is slowly winning her over and Beck is getting onto her like normal while dealing with a few problems of his own.

I'm trying so hard to come up with things to praise the book about, but I'm coming up with next to nothing. It was so blah--not even bad, just blah. Beck was the highpoint of the novel despite my frustrations with him and the decisions he makes, and I like being able to explore more of the magical world Riley lives in, specifically what the summoners' world and what they do with the bodies they summon. The novel's pacing is uneven, but I read it fairly quickly thanks to the little hints of something more going on that I was desperate to find out about.

Now comes the easy part: what I didn't like. Taking what I liked and putting it into words for this one was difficult, but it was all too easy to vent my frustrations with this book.

Things happen in the novel. It takes a while to really get warmed up and happening, but things do happen. The problem is that it doesn't feel like anything is happening. I don't like looking back on a scene and going, "Wait a second, something happened, didn't it?" If this is how one looks at important scenes or action scenes, something is wrong. I lay most of the blame on the writing, which is usually dry and falls into clunky territory more than a few times.

A lot of work needs to be done with characterization in particular because that's one of the book's weak points, but female characterization in particular needs dire attention. All the girls are either difficult or impossible to like (Riley, Justine, Brandy), blah (Ayden, Simi), or don't appear long enough to make any lasting impression (Mrs. Adler, Lady Torin). Beck was by far the best developed and most complex, but I'm not sure how I feel about him anymore at the end of the book. I'm not sure I liked any of the characters anymore by the time I reached the end of the book. Don't get me started on Simon. Just don't.

I'm going to read Forgiven, the final book in the trilogy, but it's not going to be a top priority for me. Hopefully, the characterization for everyone not named Denver Beck will kick it up a notch and make me feel like following the entire trilogy was worth it.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin