Thea leaves her parents and home in Bulgaria to attend Princeton. In a new world that is both foreign and exciting, she uncovers family secrets, crazy-wild-legends, brothers-of-love (*coughlustcough*), and a whole pile of creepy.
Sooooo…I think this is my first official experience with what has now become known as “new adult.” While once the phrase meant an age group between YA and adult, it now means college-aged sexytime books, and this was definitely a college-aged sexytime book with lots-o-paranormal-creep-factor. Other peoples’ descriptions compare it to Jane Eyre (I can’t figure out why), Twilight (paranormal lust-at-first-sight stuff), A Discovery of Witches (same rape-culture vibe), and The Secret History (no comment, as I’ve never read it). Does that sound snarky? It probably does.
Here’s the thing. I picked this audiobook up on a whim. It looked interesting, but I was full-well prepared to abandon it if it didn’t prove to be so. Then I started it, and it started out very interesting as well. Awesome! I liked the Bulgarian folktales. I liked the descriptions of Princeton, especially since the author grew up in Bulgaria and then went to college at Princeton. I didn’t even mind the whole “love at first sight” stuff at the original piano recital. I was interested in the family mystery, and the mysterious Silen, and the balance of study vs practice vs partying. All that jazz.
What didn’t interest me was this, and this is probably a spoiler, to warn you: Rhys. Jake. Rhys as Jake. Jake as Rhys. Brothers. Love triangle via brothers. Actually, it wasn’t so much the love triangle with brothers that bothered me. I actually loved the way that started, with the mix-up of identity. What bothered me was that Thea completely lost her voice around the brothers. She had definite preferences, but let the boys make all the decisions for her. She wished and washed and hemmed and hawed and pretty much just let each of them do whatever to her they wanted. Including some pretty scuzzy things that were very, very rape-fantasy-tastic. Bleagh. That, I didn’t like.
So what could have been a really fantastic-for-me kind of book ended up falling apart, despite me racing through the audiobook all the way through the end. I doubt I’ll read the sequel.
Performance: I also didn’t particularly like the audio version of the book, read by Barrie Kreinik. Accents in audiobooks tend to bother me, unless they are the native accent of the performer. While I could tell that the narrator was well-trained, I still struggled with the accents, especially of minor characters who seemed to change – or, in fact, acquire – accents partway through the book.
If you read my review on GoodReads, then you know I HATED this book. Like, a lot. I am pretty sure it’s the worst book I’ve read in the past few years. I thought the male-female relationship dynamics were gross and creepy and didn’t care for the writing either; I agree that the premise was good, but for me the book went downhill so fast and the character of Thea wound up being so spineless despite the strong feminist tone to the fables and legends that the author weaved into the story. I also didn’t get any of the comparisons except for the Twilight one.
I don’t think I ended up feeling as strongly about it as you. There were things I didn’t mind, and I liked the explanation of cultural differences. It was really once she realized that there were two people involved and just not speaking up that bothered me. And the way the sex scenes got kinda rapey.
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