Saturday, November 27, 2010

Selfish altruism makes for a horrible second book

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles #2)
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

What is it about the second installment of YA paranormal romance books that just irritates the crap out of me? Oh yeah, the completely selfish altruism* that stems from an immature lack of communication.

Lena Duchannes and Ethan Wate survived Lena's sixteen birthday - the day where she must decide if she will be a Light Caster or a Dark Caster, and suffer the consequences of either decision. But, Lena has never been normal and a twist of fate/repeat of the past leaves the Order of Things in the balance. While Lena struggles to come to terms with her decisions and fights to decide who she really is, Ethan becomes more entrenched in the Caster World and learns that life is never what it seems and those you love never really leave.

I love the premise of this series - Light v. Dark, Caster v. Mortal, Love v. Loss. I think the authors do a fabulous job of weaving together the two concurrent worlds with characters that you can't help but love (or hate). Yeah, there are parts of the story that tend to be a little too coincidental but I've come to expect a bit of that with YA books and I have come to tolerate a low level amazing coincidences.

What I have not come to tolerate is this sudden theme of Book 2 in YA series of one half of the couple completely abandoning the other because they believe they are protecting their boy/girlfriend. When has leaving without an explanation and cutting someone completely out of your life ever been the correct way to solve a problem or extract yourself from a difficult situation?! And, in addition, why does the abandonee always fall into a state of serious depression that consumes their life?!

The "I can't live without you" theme probably wasn't as bad as I am making it out to be but the negative associations with the same, gender-reversed theme in New Moon of the Twilight Saga had me taking deep breaths to calm myself down and taking notes to prevent my future daughter/son from thinking this way. (Seriously, amazing parallels between Ethan and Bella - SO leaves to protect them, friend/potential new SO is there to console, heartbroken Ethan/Bella braves all to save the life of the one who abandoned them, forgiveness given without any discussion about it).

Overall, a solid and entertaining addition to the Caster Chronicles but I am glad to be through this book and have full faith that the third installment will be much better and less teen-angst-y

*Yes, I realize that "selfish altruism" is conflicting...did it on purpose.

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