Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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

Title: Intertwined
Author: Gena Showalter
Page Count: 440 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: young adult, paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Copy for review was purchased by this writer

50 words or less: Aden is the ultimate multi-tasker- he has four souls living inside him, all with special, if inconvenient powers. Mary Ann is an anal-retentive high school student who befriends Aden while shutting up the peanut gallery in his head. Things go to hell in a hand basket. Tune in next time...

Dear Intertwined,

I just finished reading you, and I wanted to ask for clarification on a few of your points. I should start off by saying that I enjoyed you for the most part, but there are few tangles (get it? Intertwined TANGLES?!) that I wanted to ask about before I render a final opinion on you. First of all- why was it so hard for you to pick what you were about? First you are about Aden and Mary Ann, then you are about blossoming relationships between Mary Ann and Riley/Aden and Victoria, then you are about vampire politics, then you are about they mysterious quest for Aden and Mary Ann's respective family histories, then you are about Elijah's visions, then you are about a deluge of supernatural tourists into the fair town that is the setting of our story, then you're about vampire politics and Elijah's visions again! Would it have been so hard to pick just a few of those elements and be about those? Pro tip: trying to do everything at once means that things tend to not get done well, and I'm afraid I felt a little of that going on here.

Second of all, Intertwined, why the cast of thousands in the story? You had great character development for the four main characters (well, three of them anyway- Riley didn't get squat for character development but maybe there's more to come in a future book? Either way, I'll excuse that for now...) but other people, like Dan, whoever his social worker/girlfriend was (incidentally, I did not buy that "I only flirt with her to get you guys stuff" line ONE BIT, thank you very much,) and Shannon (why was he even IN this book?) got no character development whatsoever! Maybe if we had fewer twists and turns in the plot we could have had a better inkling of what the story was actually about and who was actually important to that story.

Third, and this is just a personal pet peeve, what was up with Tucker and Penny? You took two characters I didn't like from the get go and, as if such a thing was necessary, made me dislike them even more! I don't care how sorry they are, what they did was wrong. Drunk, not drunk, thinking, not thinking, in my little corner of the universe, your actions have consequences, and you not liking those consequences doesn't make them disappear. Does everyone make mistakes? Sure. Does saying "I'm sorry" make those mistakes go away? Not hardly. Sexual irresponsibility isn't sexy, people, and I'm not sure I liked the subtle hint that forgive and forget is the best way to deal with these types of situations. It will, however, make for an excellent Blog With Bite discussion question, so I guess there's that.

I'm going to climb back down off my soapbox and wrap this letter up by saying that I genuinely feel your pain, Intertwined. I feel the suffering you underwent as the first book in this series to not only introduce all the characters (all the characters...) but also to outline all the backstory and speculate on all the themes and plot elements. I feel like the first book in a series is almost doomed to experience all this suffering because otherwise the series never goes anywhere. I do think, though, that a bit of a plot diet might have helped not only to slim you down, but also make the story a little more streamlined and the details a little more memorable. I'll leave it at that, Intertwined. You have enough things to worry about.



Wow. That was basically all I had to say after I finished Intertwined. I was so excited to read it; I love Gena Showalter's other books, but I think this particular novel made clear to me that, at least in my opinion, Gena Showalter's talents lie in her novels targeted at adults. I just couldn't get completely on board with Intertwined- I thought it was too tangled for its own good and, ultimately, introduced a lot of elements that bogged the story down instead of adding detail and nuance.

I thought the characters were very realistic and well-done, but I did have an issue with Mary Ann. Maybe it's just me, but I think that someone with a fifteen year life plan who wants to be a clinical psychologist to make her daddy happy isn't going to just accept the existence of werewolves and vampires and someone's head being a halfway house for souls. Nope, she's going to drink Thorazine out of a sippy cup and run, not walk, to the nearest inpatient clinic. For someone as tightly wound as Mary Ann, she didn't seem to have a whole lot of problems with the woo woo factor that just showed up on her door, and I found that really hard to believe.

Easily my least favorite element of the story was the side plot with Penny and Tucker. See my open letter to Intertwined above. UGH.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I appreciate that this book does not take the traditional and well-traveled path of following one couple's relationship from beginning to end over the course of the book, and then moving on to follow another couple in the next book in the series. Instead, Intertwined follows two couples simultaneously, plus a host of other plots and stories. This is an interesting approach, to be sure, but what ended up happening was a lack of movement in the plot until about three quarters of the way through the story. New characters and elements kept getting introduced and then seemingly cast aside in favor of more introductions. Then, right at the end, a whole bunch of stuff happened very quickly, and if I didn't already know that there was a second book in the works, it would have become abundantly clear to me at that point.

This isn't to say I completely hated the book; I actually enjoyed it for the most part. I will say, however, that I did feel like I needed a flow chart to keep up with everything and that a little more depth would have been appreciated, as opposed to the seemingly endless breadth that the story actually provided. I'll probably read the next book when it comes out next fall, but I'll be honest and say I'll probably get it from the library.

Overall Grade: B
Blog with Bite rating: 3

Discussion Questions

#1 Do you feel the ending was cut short and needed more to be resolved before the book ended?I knew going into this book that it was the start of a series, but even with that knowledge I thought the ending was a bit...quick. It almost felt like the first and second books were once connected and then CHOP! the book was cut in half and the end of Intertwined was almost randomly determined. I felt like we established the hell out of the premise of the book but didn't really advance much beyond that point.

#2 Regarding Question #1, what are your thoughts on series books? For one you get more and more and more - depending on how long the series drags on - for another some series leave you with very little resolution at the end of the novels, i.e. the Merry Gentry series where only a couple of hours pass within the time span of one book. Do you find this is just an authors way of having guaranteed book sales - or do you really enjoy series and love reading about your fav characters over and over again? For me, it really depends on the series. There are some series where I can read volume after volume in a row and never get tired, even if some of the story elements tend to get recycled, and there are other series that seem to have "contractual obligation" written all over them. It really depends for me on how the series is crafted- if there are characters that I care about, plots that interest me, elements that are unique or attention-grabbing. Bottom line: some people can write serial novels and some people can't. I think a lot of my issues with Intertwined stem from the fact that I LOVE Gena Showalter's other series (Alien Huntress and Lords of the Underworld both,) and maybe had (dare I say) unfairly high expectations for this book.

#3 Which "trapped" soul was your favorite and do you see potential in the future story lines with the remaining three?Caleb was the most intriguing for me- I feel like we really didn't get to know much about him; Eve got a lot of attention because of her real identity, Julian got a lot of attention because of the whole instant zombie thing, and Elijah got a lot of attention because of the prophecies and visions, but we didn't really hear from Caleb a whole lot except for when he was sexually harassing Aden or the other souls, so it will be interesting to see what happens to him in the future.

#4 When a larger-than-life character such as Vlad Tepes aka Dracula is used as a side-plot character do you believe it gives the story a more factual base, or makes it less real? I've come across books that use historical characters as side plot characters very well- Karen Chance's Cassie Palmer series comes to mind. I like it when the characters retain their historical reputations but are worked into the story in a new way. I don't think that's necessarily what happened here- I think Vlad was used because he could inspire appropriate levels of creepiness and horror without having to go into a lot of detail to get to that point. The story isn't about Vlad though, so it didn't detract from the story.

#5 What did you think of the side plot involving Tucker and Penny? Do you think the issues from that plot were adequately resolved?I HATED THIS SUBPLOT. Why was it even in the book? It's hard to get into a lot of detail without getting into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say, Penny did not act like a best friend to Mary Ann, and Tucker did not act like a boyfriend to Mary Ann. They acted like selfish jerks. Then they had the audacity to try to blame their bad decisions on Mary Ann! Mary Ann is hurting, and the best response anyone can come up with is "everything happens for a reason and maybe Penny did you a favor in getting you to get rid of Tucker." SHUT UP. I really hope this whole debacle was just a red herring or to add flavor to the story because I don't see a particular need for more details about this in future books. Just saying.

#6 What is your best guess as to what Aden Stone's superpower is - the power he possess without his souls?I think Aden's power is is his souls, his ability to "trap" them within himself. I wonder if we're going to see a new soul take up residence in Chez Aden in the future, since it seems that he's able to attract the souls without knowing he's doing it.


Anonymous said...

Great review! I'll have to try some of her more adult books and not judge her solely on this.

Tara SG

Anonymous said...

Your funny!! Great review...

Donna said...

You have an award! Come get!

Book Whisperer said...

I like your letter form that was funny.

Confessions of a Country Girl/Confessions of a Book Junkie said...

I really liked your letter! Funny!