Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jenn's Review: Ember

EmberSummary:  When Candra Ember wakes up in hospital after a dangerous encounter with a red-haired woman, she is shocked to discover that seeing a winged boy wasn’t her imagination. Candra is exposed to a world of rivalry and sacrifice she never knew existed, and the aftermath of a war to save humanity thousands of years ago. Soon she finds herself relentlessly stalked by Sebastian, a beautiful and arrogant Watcher Angel and romantically pursued by his darkly seductive rival, Draven. Ultimately, dubious about her own goodness, Candra’s very existence compromises a tentative peace in the city of Acheron. ~Omnific Publishing

Review: I loved Carol Oates' last novel Shades of Atlantis (my review), so I was thrilled to find out she was publishing a new book. I immediately assumed it was the promised sequel for Shades of Atlantis, and was surprised to find out that this is not. That made me no less excited; I purchased Ember on publishing day.  If you've visited our blog before you know I don't judge a book by it's cover, but that doesn't mean I won't comment on one when I think it's fabulous.  Not only do I love the cover, but I love the concept behind it, which Carol Oates explains here at A Tale of Many Reviews.

I had a hard time getting into this one because the reader is kept in the dark, along with Candra, about what's going on until several chapters in... and even then it's a little confusing. Perhaps if I knew more about Angels in general I wouldn't have been so lost, but I honestly didn't grasp the gravity of the plot.  This is the one thing I criticised with in Shades of Atlantis, and I find myself about to say the same thing once again, but I wish she'd taken more time to explore the back story.  It's not that I felt like I'd been dropped into the middle of something, just that I felt ignorant about the plot exposition.  Luckily, Candra seems to grasp the situation quickly -now all she has to do is figure out which side is telling the truth and what sacrifices she's willing to make.

Ms. Oates is masterful at writing relationships and it was the relationships in this story that kept me going.  The character's were intriguing and, though their plight is nothing new, Ms. Oates kept things exciting.  Unlike some brooding heroes, who shall remain nameless, Sebastian definitely has cause to brood.  And as a heroine, Candra is neither whiny nor petulant.  The best part was, that right up until the end, the reader really wasn't sure which characters were protagonists and which were antagonists, aside from Candra.  In all honesty, I'm still not sure that I know.

There is some resolution to the plot, but once again, lots of room left for a sequel.  Aside from a few glaring typos in the book, this was a fun read.  Although I'm not sure I would have been as accepting of the plot ambiguities had this been any other writer, it kept me interested enough to want to read the next book in the series.  Carol Oates is definitely an author to read ...but I'd start with Shades of Atlantis.

Final Take:  3.5/5

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