Series: The Aether Chronicles #1
Published by: Flux on August 8, 2012
Genre: Fairies, Fantasy, Romance
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Wish. Love. Desire. Live.
Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.
I was first drawn to this book by the cover. I think it’s gorgeous and really interesting. I love the depiction of Noli and immediately wanted to read the book! Unfortunately, the cover art is a very poor representation of what this book is about. There is very little steampunk and Noli doesn’t even dress like the girl on the cover. She mostly wears fancy dresses and was appalled at the idea of wearing a sleeveless dress.
The beginning of the book started out with promise. Noli is really spunky, strong, independent, and some would say a little too carefree. She doesn’t like to follow rules, she’s just out to have fun. She just illegally flew and crashed a flying car with her neighbour and best friend V (Steven), and she’s in trouble. Her options are to either go before a judge or attend a “reform school.” Her mother, desperate to save her daughter’s reputation, sends her to the school. The school turns out to be incredibly abusive. They literally beat the spunk and independence out of the admitted girls.
I was intrigued. I thought Noli was an interesting character and I was hoping she’d be really rebellious at the reform school. I was looking forward to her taking control and getting the heck out of there. And that’s about where the story went downhill…
While Noli is at the reform school, we start to learn about Kevighn. He’s from the Otherworld and he’s out hunting for a new woman. You see, the magic of the Otherworld relies on creativity—known as “Spark”— to survive, so every few years, a girl with Spark is sacrificed (killed) for the sake of this civilization. Right now the Otherworld is in desperate need of a sacrifice, so the pressure is really on. In between doing opium and sleeping with prostitutes, Kevighn is searching for a girl with a strong Spark. Then, he finds Noli at the reform school..
Kevighn’s usual routine is to seduce women into coming with him to the Otherworld and proceeding from there. So he takes Noli to his home, but as he’s about to “get to work,” he finds himself falling for Noli. He loves her innocence, her kindness, and how she turns his house into a real home.
This is about where the book started to really turn me off. I hated Kevighn’s character. I didn’t like his obsession with opium and “soft women” (as he put it). I found it distracting and a little unnecessary. We’re reminded of his addiction to both in every chapter from his POV. Secondly, he came off as just a creepy guy. He kept seducing Noli with his ‘charm’ and lies and she kept falling into it and I hated that, which leads me to my next issue.
Noli really changed throughout the book, but not in a good way. She went from being spunky, daring, and carefree to being naive crybaby obsessed with her reputation. Funny, I thought the whole reason she got sent off to reform school was because she didn’t care about her reputation. As the story went on, I failed to see what was so special about Noli. Why does she have so much Spark? Any independent, carefree, creative, rebellious qualities she had faded very quickly as the story went on. She went from being potentially interesting to really bland. I thought her friend Charlotte — who supposedly had less Spark — was a lot more interesting.
Towards the second half of the book, Noli starts developing a relationship with V and it becomes clear that she’s really prude. It just seemed completely out of character. V would start making some advances and she’d literally say, “We can’t do this — what about my reputation??” What happened to carefree, spunky, do-whatever-I-want Noli? I didn’t expect her to be a slut, but she basically saw kissing as the equivalent of home plate.
Okay let’s talk about V. For most of the book I adored him. He was an awesome character and I was dying to know more about him. He was courageous, determined, and the perfect best friend. He would do anything for Noli and that was awesome. I really felt like I got invested in his character and sympathized with him. Except towards the end he got really annoying. At first he kept saying to Noli, “I won’t lie to you like they do — I’ll tell you the truth,” and at first he did and I loved him for it. But then later he was kind of hiding something from her and it just confused her and pissed me off! Then later, he kept trying to push his Fae culture onto Noli. When they’d kiss and Noli would blabber on about her reputation, he’d basically say, “Things are different in the Otherworld. Give yourself to me now.” A little paraphrasing, but his words weren’t far off. 😛 Even though I didn’t like Noli’s prudishness, it annoyed me that V suddenly seemed to have litte respect for her desire to remain “marriageable.”
I also encountered many grammatical errors that interrupted my reading. I did read an e-ARC so hopefully these will be fixed in the final copies. Most of them are just blaringly obvious misuses/typos of “he/her/his/she.” For example:
He body went aflame at his touch, but fear still lingered in the pit of her belly.
Finally, the end was way too convenient and too “easy.” I can’t say much without spoilers, but just know that it kind of came out of nowhere and was annoyingly convenient. So everyone is looking at Noli to become the sacrifice to the Otherworld, then her friend Charlotte from the reform school shows up. At the beginning, Charlotte was a great character. She’s like your sparky, bubbly best friend who you can talk to about anything — especially intimate topics like sex. Anyway, she was perfectly fine at the beginning of the book but suddenly now, at the end, we find out she has a tumor! Since her days are numbered anyway, she volunteers to be the sacrifice to the Otherworld. Problem solved! Thank god for tumors?
The beginning of the book was interesting and promising, but the end just really dropped off. I almost didn’t want to finish the book and I had to push myself to complete it. I just didn’t get invested in the story, Noli got annoying, and I didn’t have a strong desire to “find out what was going to happen,” and then when I did get to the end it was way too convenient and unimaginative. I probably won’t be bothering with the rest of the series. 🙁