Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HBIC Review of Covet: Emily @ What Book is That?

Title: Covet
Author: J.R. Ward
Page Count: 474 pages
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Urban Fantasy

50 words or less: The ultimate showdown between good and evil is boiling down to one dude and his ability to sway people away from their self-destructive paths. Jim Heron is a fallen angel; Vin diPietro is a avaricious real estate mogul- can Vin be saved? More to the point, can Vin save himself?

I first heard about Covet from Amazon and have been excited about its release pretty much from day one. I confess myself a huge fan of Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series so the idea of a slightly related series set in sort of the same world was really appealing.

With that said, I have a rule when I'm reading books, a rule that I'm surely not the first person to come up with or use- the fifty page rule. This rule states that if a book isn't interesting to me or I'm not motivated to keep reading after fifty pages, I put that book aside and read something else. There's way too many books in the world to keep plugging through something that's just not ringing your proverbial bell.

I'm sad to say that that almost happened to me with Covet. Notice I said almost. The first fifty pages of the book epitomized to me the weaker points of other Ward books I've read- the overall story arc is kind of shoehorned into the prologue and expressed through a really, really drawn out sports metaphor and is then spelled out again and again thereafter. The characters are dark and dreary and in situations that seem hopeless, both to them and to the reader. The slang was so heavy and liberally used that it makes you wonder if there's a secret decoder ring out there that interprets the story. Case and point (oddly enough, this section comes from precisely page 50):
Thanks to being in the military, he'd learned that when you came to and didn't know where you were, it was better to possum it until you had some intel.

What? I'll admit, one of the things that I enjoy the most about the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was the use of language and the way the characters talk to each other and express themselves, but the same technique that worked so well in that series is almost comical here.

I was inches away from setting the book aside when, as if by magic, someone gave the plot the Heimlich and the story really took off in a big way. The premise of the book really blossomed and became actualized when Jim, the government assassing turned fallen angel, met up with Vin diPietro, the first charge in Jim's quest to win the battle for the future of humanity. The back stories of the characters, which had seemed cumbersome before, were RIVETING now, and the backstory helped to drive the plot forward and explain why certain events were happening the way they were, why other plot points were set up the way that they were.

Easily my favorite character in the book, though, is Marie-Therese/Gretchen. Marie-Therese is the epitome of a J.R. Ward heroine- she's strong in the face of overpowering obstacles, honest, trustworthy, loving, caring, but not afraid to stand up for herself. She's working hard to overcome the mistakes of her past and has the courage to make new decisions when it becomes apparent that the old ones aren't working anymore. Her backstory is heartbreaking, riveted and detailed; Ward does an excellent job of making you care about Marie-Therese and wanting her to win and have her happily ever after.

Vin diPietro is an interesting guy; he's not a real likeable guy in the beginning, but the change that overtakes him throughout the book is interesting to watch, genuine, and easy to believe. The same can be said of Jim- he's mysterious and plays by his own rules, sure, but he also has a core of integrity that despite everything stays strong.

Also, can I just say that I LOVE Devina and the role she plays in the story? I won't say what that role is because that would be a huge spoiler, but suffice it to say that J.R. Ward's descriptions of the supernatural events in Covet absolutely made my skin crawl in just the way you'd want a book like this to do that.

There were also a bunch of cameos in the book from characters from the Black Dagger Brotherhood stories, so spotting them was fun indeed. It makes me wonder if some of the Fallen Angels characters will be making crossover appearances, since apparently you can't spit in Caldwell, NY without hitting one of the players in the battle of good versus evil.

Is this a perfect book? Nope. Is this a decent start to a new series? Sure. Despite a really rocky start I enjoyed the book overall and would be interested in reading the rest of the series.

Overall Grade: B
Blog With Bite Score: 3

Question #1: Did you relate to Jim at all? Did you feel like he was a good choice or worthy of this mission? I think that, within the world that J.R. Ward created for the book, Jim is a plausible choice, since he has to be a mix of good and evil so that the two sides in the cosmic flag football that's being played can attempt to win him completely to one side or the other. I find the idea of Jim as the protagonist easier to accept than the overall premise of the series, to be honest. Are we really supposed to believe that if Jim doesn't manage to convince seven people (out of the billions of people walking around on the planet) to quit being obnoxious, then the cosmos is going to kick out the proverbial plug on humanity? Come on now.

Question #2: How do you feel about the tone of the book? Did you think that there was too much slang/not enough/just enough? How did you feel about the word choice in the book- did it add to your reading of the story or take away from it? The word usage in Covet is easily my biggest complaint about the book. J.R. Ward is known for an edgier, more casual vocabulary in her books and I understand that (even appreciate that in some of her other books,) but here I found it detracted from the story and made a lot of the plot points harder to work with than they needed to be. A little flavor is nice, but after awhile I did catch myself hitting fast forward.

Question #3: When the "fantasy" of the book is based on a belief system that is regarded as truth by some religions (the angels & demons) does it help you relate better with the story, as opposed to a story about vampires and werewolves? The overall concepts behind demons and angels didn't really factor into my reading of the story one way or another, to be honest. I think my issues with the story stemmed more from my issues with the story's construction and my lack of buy-in to the conflict and the setting of the story than anything else.

Question #4: In the opening of this book we read about a football game analogy of Demons verses Angels, even though this is fiction what do you think of Demons in this case Jim the Fallen Angel being portrayed as a "Good Guy"? I hate sports metaphors as a rule and I really didn't like the one that started off Covet in any way, shape or form. Be that as it may, I don't think Jim is supposed to be a demon in the sense that the bad guys in this series are supposed to be demons. I think Jim is supposed to be an angel who's not as good as a regular angel and therefore fits the description that the bizarre game that this series is centered around calls for. In some ways, I think that's not a bad thing, since in the realm of people there isn't anyone who's truly, 100% good and everyone has their imperfections, so if the savior of humanity has to come from the ranks of humanity itself then that hero's going to have a few warts, so to speak.

Question #5: How do you feel knowing this will be a 7 book series featuring Jim and he might win all of the battles?I'm really hoping Ms. Ward mixes it up a little bit in the rest of the series and either delegates some of the world-saving to the other characters, because otherwise the series is going to read more like a TV show than a dramatic series. I mean, granted, probably the good guys are going to win and the world's going to carry on and all that jazz, but it'd be nice if it wasn't that formulaic. A little drama or suspense would be nice, certainly.


ParaJunkee said...

I am very glad you enjoyed it. I was getting worried that it was going to be a total flop for everyone. Very good review, excellent points and comparisons.

Melissa said...

Hey, good review. I think you liked it a bit better than I did. You points are well taken. Great job!