Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Forgiven by Jana Oliver

Title: Forgiven
Author: Jana Oliver
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Pages: 354 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Borrowed it from a friend.
Purchase: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Book Depository

The days are growing darker for 17-year-old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne. With her father’s reanimated body back safely, Beck barely speaking to her because of a certain hunky Fallen angel, and a freshly-made deal with Lucifer, she has enough on her hands to last a normal teenage lifetime. Though she bargained with Heaven to save his life, her ex-boyfriend Simon has told the Vatican’s Demon Hunters that she’s working with Hell. So now she’s in hiding, at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list. 

But it’s becoming clear that this is bigger than Riley, and rapidly getting out of control:  something sinister is happening in Atlanta… or someone. The demons are working together for the first time ever and refusing to die, putting civilians in harm’s way. Riley thinks she might know who’s behind it all, but who’s going to believe her? Caught between her bargain with Heaven and her promise to Lucifer, Riley fears the final war is coming – and it may be closer than anyone thinks…


I am mad, people. Mad. Forgiven made me think I had a good book on my hands, but then it hit me in the back of the head with a mannequin arm, laughed in my face while beating me with said mannequin arm, took a few hours of my time and a sliver of my sanity, and ran away. Surprise! It's a bad book! And it was one heck of a surprise, let me tell you. Upsetting element came out of nowhere.

To be fair, I still enjoyed most of the novel. It charmed some laughter out of me a few times and captured me when it came time to take action and fight both literal and metaphorical demons. The simplistic black and white dichotomy from the first book is almost completely obliterated at this point and seeing it develop so well into something more realistic, into something described as two sides of the same coin with both being equally necessary, has been great. Riley is still fairly bland as heroines go, but she's not offensive. That's good, right? (I hate myself a little bit for saying that.)

No, the offensive material lies elsewhere. I'll get to that in a second.

Until now, I liked Beck, the male lead. Sure, his phonetic accent grated on me and I became less tolerant of it with each book, but he was the only well-developed character in this series (which upsets me a little as I wonder why Riley and the rest of the cast can't have that kind of layering and development, but that's not my point, though it's another flaw of the novel). Then along came Forgiven. I still appreciate his character, but that appreciation is dashed with an ample helping of severe dislike because Beck? Is a entitled creep and I can no longer stand him.

Beck is spitting mad at her at the start of the novel because she slept with Ori--not surprising considering how he feels for her and what Ori is. On page 80, the book calls him "too honest" when Beck says to another trapper while discussing Riley's tryst with the Fallen angel, "I never would have wasted my time with her if I'd known--" I think we can figure out what he was going to say: if he'd known she was going to sleep with Ori. Stewart was right to call Beck out on his hurt pride, but it slides right off him.

Then in Riley's words on page 245, "[Having sex with Ori] wasn't right, not after everything you did for me. I was just... lonely." It's one thing if she's apologizing for getting tricked. That's not really her fault either because Ori's specialty is seduction, for God's sake, but whatever. Nope. It's made out that she's apologizing for being with another man when Beck has helped her so much. She has been told a few times now that Beck likes her, but Beck himself does not express his feelings to her in any way until shortly after she says this.

The message I get from all this is that because Beck has helped her get by and is such a close family friend, she owes it to him not to be with other men. What? He should have helped her anyway because he's a decent human being? He hasn't indicated to her at any point before this book that he liked her and so his romantic feelings shouldn't play into it? Pfft, none of that doesn't matters. She owes him, you see.

No no no no no no no and a million more nos on top of that. Maybe she does owe him for all the help he's given her, but that debt will never extend to the point where she owes it to him not to be with certain men. Men are not owed anything romantically or sexually by helping a woman; perpetuating that idea is wrong on multiple levels. I just had a conversation with someone today about how society makes certain groups feel entitled to things they have no entitlement to and this plays right into it.

Justine's character... I don't want to talk about it. I. Just. Don't.

I hardly even enjoyed myself this time. Because of that and the creepy undertones I picked up on have dampened my enthusiasm for these books, so I may not stick around for the fourth and final Demon Trappers novel. My review of Demon Trapper's Daughter was positive and Soul Thief's review was more neutral, but I was hoping I would never have to get down to a truly negative review for the series. Now I have. I don't even want to buy my own copy to go with the previous novels of the series on my shelf.

2 stars!

What am I reading next?: Take Off Your Shirt and Cry: A Memoir of Near-Fame Experiences by Nancy Balbirer

1 comment:

  1. I loved Beck until became such a hypocritical mega douche dick ball. And Riley's stupid butt went right along with it. Uhg. Certain plot aspects aggravated me too; some of the events just didn't seem like they fit together. I didn't however notice Beck's accent until other reviewers pointed it out because he speaks the same way I do. But I do salute Oliver for writing sex into the series. Many writers just skip over the fact that teenagers do in fact have sex.


I love hearing what others have to say about books and it makes me feel less like I'm talking to an empty auditorium, so comment away. Thank you for reading my blog post!