April 28, 2011

Review: Turned by Morgan Rice

Author: Morgan Rice
Series: The Vampire Journals, Book 1
ISBN: 0012120243
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Novel provided by the author for a honest review

For more information please visit Morgan Rice's website.
Eighteen year old Caitlin Paine finds herself uprooted from her nice suburb and forced to attend a dangerous New York City high school when her Mom moves again. The one ray of light in her new surroundings is Jonah, a new classmate who takes an instant liking to her.

But before their romance can blossom, Caitlin suddenly finds herself changing. She is overcome by a superhuman strength, a sensitivity to light, a desire to feed--by feelings she does not understand. She seeks answers to what’s happening to her, and her cravings lead her to the wrong place at the wrong time. Her eyes are opened to a hidden world, right beneath her feet, thriving underground in New York City. She finds herself caught between two dangerous covens, right in the middle of a vampire war.

It is at this moment that Caitlin meets Caleb, a mysterious and powerful vampire who rescues her from the dark forces. He needs her to help lead him to the legendary lost artifact. And she needs him for answers, and for protection. Together, they will need to answer one crucial question: who was her real father?

But Caitlin finds herself caught between two men as something else arises between them: a forbidden love. A love between the races that will risk both of their lives, and will force them to decide whether to risk it all for each other.

Turned is the debut novella in Morgan Rice's young adult series, The Vampire Journals. Nicely written and an extremely fast read, this is good start to a new vampire series sure to be a hit with readers who are looking for a light, yet entertaining story.

Rice does a great job of pulling you into the story from the beginning, utilizing a great descriptive quality that transcends the mere painting of the setting. Instead, Rice is able to capture the feeling of the atmosphere, in this case the public high school in which Caitlin is forced to attend, and explore the emotions and tension that become perfectly evident, even shared by the reader. This is the aspect that initially drew me into the story because the 'feeling' that a place is able to evoke is often overlooked or only briefly nodded at. In this case, it was as if you standing right there with Caitlin experiencing the first day in a new school that may as well have been a new planet. But, while this is the thing that I loved most, it quickly vanished. It was as if Rice shifted gears without bothering to use the clutch because seemingly all of a sudden her focus is on building a relationship between Caitlin and Jonah.

This is really the thing that bothered me the most within this novella because while she does a wonderful job of focusing on these individual aspects, she was seemingly unable to utilize them all at once. Honestly, if she could have continuously developed all of these aspects - romance, action, world building, characterization- at once, then this would have been a really, really amazing novella. Instead, the shifting focus only served to make this world very two dimensional as we are only able to see one thing at a time explored.

Of course, that's not to say that the individual aspects aren't done well. In fact, Rice does a great job of building her elements. For instance, the characterization. Caitlin is an interesting character who's life is forever changing. The only constant in her life seems to be that nothing is ever the same. She's very introverted, drawn into her own thoughts and seems to keep mostly to herself. When she meets Jonah she feels an almost instantaneous connection seeing another lonely soul. But, those aren't the only changes that she has to cope with as a sudden fierce rage seems to overtake her in moments of stress as well as an undefinable hunger that border on debilitating. While Caitlin's character is nicely developed, I felt like the supporting ones were fairly one dimensional with their personalities and relationship to Caitlin feeling very rushed and incomplete. This is something that I think really became evident when Rice started building the relationships and romances within the story.

Mostly, the romance was okay, and felt sort of normal for a teenage love. Everything feels very big and with a character that is sort of naive when it comes to forming bonds with people I can sort of see how the romance within this story fits. However, it felt way too naive for my liking. The connection between Jonah and Caitlin was nice, and truly, I think with a bit more development could have felt completely natural. But, what we get is very little interaction between the two leaving me feeling like Caitlin's feelings for him are way too premature. She does actually admit that thought to herself a time or two, but it doesn't seem to dissuade her. But, it wasn't the relationship between these two teenagers that bothered me, instead it was the one that seemed to come out of nowhere with Caleb. Now that was just plain ludicrous. Within an hour of knowing him, they're in love. Seriously, the 'L' word was being thrown around within a few pages. And while I liked Caleb's character well enough, I think this is something that Rice needs to work on, her development. Relationships just don't spring out of nothing and I really think that's what Rice tried to accomplish here.

Likewise, I think that the villains of the story were far to cartoon-ish for my liking. I mean, I think it says it all right in the different coven's names with White and Black there in the forefront. This makes the plot seems a little more campy, especially when the prophecy of 'The One' is brought into play with the introduction of a mysterious sword that supposedly Caitlin will be able to find. Again, I think this needed a bit more development as did such elements as the vampire social order, the segregation of the covens, and more information regarding the prophecy and Caitlin's half-breed roots. While I'm sure more of this will be explored in book 2, the entire point of a first installment is to help build the foundation for the world in which the series will take place.

Overall, this was a good read that kept me interested. While there is a lot that I would like to see improved, I think that this was a good solid start with a lot of room for Rice to explore in future novels. I would definitely be interested to know what happens with Caitlin in the future and will definitely be reading more novellas within this series.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars

No comments: