Monday, April 25, 2016

REVIEW: Reckless Magic by Rachel Higginson (Star-Crossed, bk 1)

Star-Crossed #1
by Rachel Higginson
2/5 stars

First, I'd like to thank the author for providing me with a review copy in return for an honest review.

Let's start with what I liked about Reckless Magic:

For a YA romance centered around a forbidden romance plot, I was very happy to see that there wasn't a love triangle in sight. Complications for the romance arise from misunderstandings and genuine differences between the characters -and, you know, that whole 'forbidden' part. This led to a more believable and interesting development for the love story.

Kiran, the snobby love interest, is a big part of what's good about this story. He's a jerk. Our heroine Eden knows he's a jerk. The best thing about him is that -even when she starts to fall for him despite his jerk face tendencies- he doesn't magically lose his jerkness. We see a softer side of him, we see sincerity in him, and we see the trials and reasons for his being a jerk but we also see his impatience and possessiveness and he never actually stops being a jerk. He becomes a sympathetic jerk, that readers will care about and relate to, but he still does those facepalming, stupid-boy-jerk things throughout the story, too.

Eden also knows he's quite a jerk; she spends the first half of the book avoiding him because of it. She's not blinded by love which, especially for YA, is a big win in my book. She sees past his status and his jaw-dropping good looks to the person he really is. When she falls for Kiran, its for his flaws and all, which was really the best part of the story.

Kiran was a very interesting character and I would be curious to know how he develops in the future.

Now for what didn't work for me:

Aside from the intriguing Kiran, the other characters in Reckless Magic are sadly underdeveloped and, especially our heroine and POV character Eden, lack much personality.

Eden is born into a secret magical society but must be raised in ignorance, due to politics and a developing 'savior' story line. Still, she knows there is something weird about her because she feels a powerful electricity in her body and has caused more than one inexplicable incident. This is not an unusual or even bad start to a typical magic series, but this one was poorly executed.

Eden is too ignorant, to the point of disbelief, and she remains ignorant for far too long, despite hints and prodding from several characters, who she chooses to ignore, and the fact that she starts to literally blow things up, which she decides not to question or confide in anyone about. Because of this, the book has a very slow and frustrating first 100 pages, made worse by the prologue that offers up all the details on a silver platter that are than dragged out as a 'mystery' through the first half of the book. When she does finally come to terms with the reality of magic, her ignorance is passed off as her being stubborn and self-absorbed, neither of which I really got a sense of up to that point. As the story progresses, neither her ignorance nor her curiosity improves, and she continues to bumble around this new magical society, making no real effort on her own to learn more, and killing most of the interest I had in the tale.

I feel like Eden's ignorance was used as a writing tool to build mystery and suspense for the reader, but it was not well executed. There was not enough story outside of the mystery to make such a long bout of unconvincing ignorance worthwhile.

The first 100 pages or so were in dire need of tightening up. Eden doesn't actually develop a story goal until well passed the midpoint, which did kick up my interest level again. Because I was unable to connect with Eden or sympathize with her plight, the drama and stakes of the tale did not overly concern me.

The final 50 pages did improve the story a lot and they did make me more invested in the characters' romance, but unfortunately not enough to pique my interest. It's entirely possible that the subsequent books in the series carry on with the improvements of the ending, but the possibility is not enough to convince me to grab the next book.

I found the book underwhelming and I didn't like Eden as a character. I found her insincere and sometimes artificial, so I couldn't sympathize or connect with her. I will specify that paranormal YA is not a genre I read a lot. It's entirely possible the issues I had with this book are characteristics of the genre, in which case you might love it. I, unfortunately, didn't.

About the Author:
You can find out more about Rachel Higginson and her books at her website. Her next book, Bet on Me, is the second book of the Bet on Love series and will be released on May 16. It is currently available for pre-order. Until then, allow this 'making of' video entertain you.

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