Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Echo by Alyson Noel

Title: Echo
Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Pages: 340 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer | author website

Echo (Soul Seekers, #2)
The second book in the Soul Seekers series about a girl who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead by #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël!

Daire Santos just saved her grandmother's life—and her soul. But at a cost. The Richters, a dark family of sorcerers, have been let loose in the Lowerworld, and Daire and her boyfriend, Dace, must once again work together to find them before they upset the balance between good and evil, and destroy not only their small town in New Mexico, but the entire world.

As Daire and Dace's relationship deepens, Dace’s evil brother Cade grows stronger than ever, building his power and forcing Daire to confront the horrifying prophecy that has brought them all together. One that will leave Daire no choice but to claim her true destiny as Seeker, but only by making an unthinkable sacrifice for the greater good of all.


I had a feeling Noel's Soul Seeker series would get better with time and it seems that hunch was somewhat on the mark for once! Though the series could still see some improvement in its characterization and overall writing mechanics, I genuinely enjoyed Echo and found myself lost in Daire's world more often than I did while reading Fated a few months ago.

The further development of Daire's world and exploration of the prophecy both Daire and Dace are having nightmares about drives the story from beginning to end and made the novel hard to put down. Moral dilemmas, fun friends, and more info on Dace's side of the world were everywhere. There was even sex! I like sex in YA. There should be more. If only they could have it freely instead of being barred from it because it makes evil more powerful... Why can't sex be sex and not a tool of evil, especially one that creates a plot hole later in the novel?

The darker turn Daire and Dace's characters take over the course of the novel is fantastic. Though their relationship and love for one another, the driving force behind their changes, have no depth or realism, it's very easy to suspend disbelief and get caught up as both of them consider breaking all the rules in order to save the world and defeat Cade. Unfortunately, Daire's development is robbed of its momentum too quickly; killing Cade is initially against the rules and presents a moral dilemma, but her ancestor later okays it and the morality of killing him becomes null and void. Dace's, however, comes full circle and contributes to one hell of an ending.

The author's style is her style and I can't expect that to change just because a handful of readers would like it, but Noel's way of writing grates on me. Whether it's Dace or Daire narrating (this book is mostly told in dual POV; telling the narrators apart is effortless, thank goodness), em-dashes are abused/used incorrectly and sentence fragments are everywhere. Really, fragments are supposed to be used for emphasis, but Noel uses them so much that they lose all their power and simply become annoying. If her writing didn't have those problems, the novel would get a significantly higher rating from me.

There are also a few instances where sense seems to fly the coop completely. In the middle of a battle in which Daire is killing a bunch of undead Richters, she stops without warning or reason in the middle of it and lets them beat her up because she deserves it for failing at everything. Just as soon as that lapse happens, she gets up and goes right back to killing undead Richters. That detour wasn't necessary at all. I've also got a few small issues with the flat characterization of Dace's ex-girlfriend Phyre (though her quick piece at the end of the novel promises development).

I'll definitely stay around for Mystic, book three in the series. How can I not? It still makes very little sense after three rereads of the last thirty pages, but such a bloody ending earns some serious respect.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Dear Teen Me edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally