"Sky took my hand, opening my mind. I saw what he saw through small brown fox eyes. I saw that every single person had at least one good quality, and you could love that good one or hate the bad ones instead, but the choice was yours."
I'm afraid that this was the weakest book in the series for me. While I am still torn about the sudden paranormal shift which has been introduced out of the blue in the previous book, Rafael's psychic abilities approached absurd territory here and became more than a little ridiculous. I mean, am I really supposed to believe that he and his sister Mary can agree to meet up in their dreams where they can have full-on conversations?
What was even weirder was Mary's sudden urge to take out a blood law on Skylar's father (no spoiler, it's in the blurb). Where was that storyline in Looks Over? What makes this so bizarre was that Skylar wasn't kept in the dark about Mary's plans, but he fully knew about them. And yet this has never been mentioned in the second book WHEN WE WERE IN HIS HEAD.
All in all, I still liked the writing and the characters well enough to give this book 4 stars. Because I still love Rafael and Skylar and all of their family and friends. But the story hasn't really worked for me in the last two books. I'm worried about where this series is going, and I'm wondering if it's really for the best to retell the whole series through Rafael's POV when it changes the initial tone of the first books that much.
"I was seventeen years old. I thought about sex every five seconds."
~ Rafael, mentioning sex for the very first time EVER in 6 books. And also for the last time. ~
"I'd lived my whole life in the dark until I met the boy who blanketed the earth in his name."
This is the fifth book in the Gives Light series and a re-telling of the first one, only this time from Rafael's POV.
Now if you've been following my reviews, you already know that I've been DYING to read Rafael's story and to finally see Skylar through his eyes. And I wasn't disappointed. (Ok, maybe a little bit, but more about that later.)
It was so wonderful to see how Rafael's self-loathing at the beginning changed at the very moment that Skylar stepped into his life. How Rafael's view of the world, a world that for him only consisted of darkness, gloom and misery, turned bright and colorful, step by step, thanks to Skylar and his "light". Rafael's journey of self-acceptance, and his will to become a better person because he desperately wanted to be a better person, a person who's worth of Skylar's friendship and love, was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be and more.
And while this book covers the same storyline as the first one in the series, there are more than enough differences to keep this from just being a re-narration. Nothing here felt repetitive or redundant; it was a whole new story with a completely different feel to it.
HOWEVER (I always seem to have an "however" issue with this series), even after I finished the book, I'm still conflicted on how to feel about the inclusion of the paranormal element that was introduced here all of a sudden and out of the blue.
While I was reading the first 4 books, I just LOVED the idea that Rafael was able to understand and communicate with Skylar only by paying attention to his body language and his facial expressions. But now in this 5th book, the story unexpectedly shifts to supernatural territory. It turns out that Rafael actually CAN see people’s auras and literally feel their feelings just by touching them. He hears Skylar's thoughts clearly in his mind and the two of them actually have these full-on conversations, even without looking at each other. It was like Rafael suddenly became some sort of mind reader or something.
I have to be honest, Rafael's sudden psychic ability threw me off. And as strange as it sounds, but the inclusion of "magic" actually made the romance anticlimactically less magical for me. I still don't know if this series benefited from this paranormal component or not; but as for myself, I would have preferred to keep this universe realistic, without any paranormal or mystical component to it. I never really got over that shift during the course of the whole book.
But Rose Christo's prose was just as beautiful as always, and even though I always seem to find fault with every book in this series that prevents me from giving them a full 5 star-rating, I think a constant 4.5 star-rating is nothing to sneeze at.
"He broke away from my mouth and trailed his lips down the front of my throat. I felt his lips close around my scars. He kissed away their ugliness. His lips parted in tingling butterfly kisses that drained the strength from my knees. I realized he was mouthing words against my skin.
Not words. Just one word.
Even though I'm WAY past my teen years (*insert heavy sobs GIF here*), I'm still such a sucker for a good YA or NA novel. I think every gay man is. The thought of "How would it have been to meet your one and only, your true soulmate at the age of 16?" has the potential for endless daydreams.
Give me a YA novel with a unique setting (this one's set in an Indian reservation), a first love-story between two teenage boys with a dark history and each of them with their own demons to fight, then add to that some truly beautiful writing (seriously guys, check out my latest updates!) and I'm in book heaven.
I would have given this wonderful and gorgeous story of Skylar and Rafael 5 stars, but I really missed a dual POV. Now I know that I will get Rafael's POV in a later book, but I wanted NEEDED at least a glimpse of his thoughts and inner turmoil in this book, too. Otherwise, this would have been the perfect YA book for me; I was so happy while I was reading it.
A thousand thanks to my friend Trisha who steered me towards this series with her relentless raving. You were absolutely right, love: I LOVED SKYLAR AND RAFAEL! I can't wait to see how their relationship progresses in the next books.
PS: I know this isn't the most coherent or elaborate review in the history of reviews, but I promise I'll do a better job during the next installments of this series. All you need to know at this point is that this book was all that I hoped for and more.