Sunday, February 17, 2013

Book Review: Becoming by Raine Thomas

Starting a new series is always a little daunting. It's like diving into a pool...blindfolded. You don't know how good it is, how hooked you're going to get, how engaging and exciting the characters are. But in its own way, it's a little bit like going on an adventure to the unknown! I came upon the "Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy" when I was looking at the list of recommended books on Amazon, and it sounded interesting, plus it had some good reviews, so I decided, why the heck not! And dove right in.

Every three years, Amber Hopkins loses control. Her eyes turn gold, and before she knows it, inexplicable pain takes over. She's already worked through five foster placements, and she's doing whatever she can to avoid being blasted into the sixth. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, Amber is exposed to truths about herself and about those she loves that will change her life forever. Amber must Become, transitioning into another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she's ever had. The choices she makes will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy who will stop at nothing to take her down. Kind of makes explosions seem like a cakewalk.

One thing that I really liked about "Becoming" was Amber herself. She's one kick-ass heroine who's strong, independent and clever. Not to mention decisive. She doesn't take forever to ponder over her feelings toward Gabriel, her fellow foster and best friend, and has a strong sense of who she is. She also takes all of the changes and life-changing truths that are hurled at her into stride, and never wavers with her decisions. Did I also mention that she knows karate? Despite her strengths in character, however, Amber also possesses flaws that make her more realistic and relatable. She's a little socially awkward because she's constructed a barrier from all the times she's been abandoned and hurt, and it's that vulnerability that makes her real, even if she's not all together human...

I do have to admit, however, that her romance with Gabriel was a little predictable. It was sweet, without a doubt, and definitely enviable, but it just happened really quickly and kind of stayed that way throughout the novel. Not that I'm complaining too much. I'd much rather have a romance that's a bit predictable than a sappy, cliched one that ends up annoying you to bits. Plus, Gabriel sounds like a yum-yum, if you ask me. Gentlemanly, thoughtful and loving? Yes please!

Another thing that wasn't as exciting as it could be was the plot. The entire book felt like it was more of an introduction and lead-up to the trilogy, and it never really reached that point where my heart was pounding and I was reading rapid-fire to see what happened next. There was a little bit of a climax when the inevitable skirmish with the Mercesti occurred, but it ended pretty quickly. And I think that's the thing that doesn't make it as compelling as it could be. Everything is a little too easy for Amber, Gabriel and her sisters. Things just smooth out right after any form of trouble, and it would've been more exciting if we saw them struggle.

That being said, there's also some interesting things going on with the whole idea of Estilorians, a race of long-living beings divided into classes according to powers. And they can fly! Ms. Thomas has some unique world-building in her novel--thank the literary gods that there aren't more werewolves or vampires! One thing that I thought could've been developed a little further was the setting where the Estilorians lived. It seemed a little too normal and human to me, and I was kind of expecting something a little more otherworldly, like magical, shimmering roads or something to that effect.

Overall, "Becoming" is an interesting and unique introduction to the "Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy", with a kick-ass heroine and a sweet romance. The plot was a little predictable and not as exciting as it could've been, and I can already tell that the next two books are going to be about the other two sisters--Olivia and Skye--similarly falling in love with their guardians! I might continue the trilogy, but I'd say "Becoming" is worth a read to see whether it works with your taste.

Rating: 3.5/5

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