"One thing that they don't tell you is that fires can't burn bright forever."
All the reviews for this book are like "OMG, I'm a blubbering mess." and "OMG, don't read any spoilers.".
So yeah, you REALLY shouldn't read any spoilers and just go along for the ride.
But there are two things that I just want to point out anyway:
1. TJ Klune has always been a great writer, but he outdid himself with this one. The writing quality is excellent, and given the heaviness of the story, it was beautiful, tasteful and one of the best-written books I've ever read.
2. Since everyone is recommending to avoid spoilers at any costs and go in blindly, I still feel like this book could have used a trigger warning, given the main target of M/M readers:
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Trigger warning: abduction of a family member, with no final conclusion or explanation to the disappearance or the whereabouts
So while a romance this is NOT, the writing and the revelation of bits of information a little at a time totally worked for me. This has been one of the darkest and most depressing books I've ever read. But I'm glad that I did, because not everything in life is just rainbows, kittens and sunshine.
Oh, and just to be clear: there's a tentative HFN, so this can still be considered as a romance. Though just barely.
Thanks to Elsbeth and Cinna MMon for the BR.
"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.
(Note: The following review has been provided with pretty ICoS fan art to soothe the fans.)
I MADE IT!
It took me two whole weeks to get through this 1427-page-long (!) fucker of a book, but I finally made it.
And I'm afraid that it was... not really worth it. Sorry, guys.
You know how some TV shows consist of 24-episodes seasons where most of the episodes are just fillers? You feel like the premise of that show is quite good, but it would have benefitted if it were only 10 or 12 episodes, because the storyline would have been tighter and more compelling? This book just felt like that.
Or in a nutshell: this book was too frigging LONG!
Now, I am well aware that I've read the original version and there are two edited DCs out there. But even so, these DCs also consist of 334, respectively 344 pages which is STILL to long IMO. Because not much really happens besides inner monologues, repetitions, a lot of completely unnecessary scenes and chapters, and more inner monologues. The whole story could have easily been told in just 300 or 400 pages.
But one thing at a time.
There were just too much unnecessary paragraphs, scenes, hell even whole chapters. Stuff that added nothing to the overall story, but went on and on and on. Just two examples (believe me, there's more):
And don't get me started on the repetitiveness of certain terms or whole events. Sin's "green eyes" will be hunting me for weeks.
Boyd's and Sin's behavior was so contradictory at times that I felt like the authors had two different characters in mind while they wrote the book. Both were like these two super spies one minute and then total imbeciles the next.
Boyd was supposed to be this natural and tactical pro when it came to analyze and plan how to infiltrate a hostile compound, but then he turns into a complete idiot when he's confronted with an ordinary oven (!):
"Standing back and staring blankly at the glass, he realized he had no idea what it meant to preheat. Obviously he heated it prior to something, but to what? Placing the food inside presumably. But if that was the case, how in the world did he know when it reached the appropriate temperature? Was it important that it was exactly on that degree? If he left it heating long enough, would it heat over 300° or did it have some sort of failsafe that cut off the heat producing agent at the correct time to keep it only at that temperature?"
Sin, on the other hand, felt jealous about Boyd and Ryan's friendship or if anyone else touched Boyd, but then he goes and outright offers Boyd to another couple for a threesome:
"Johnny smirked and bobbed his head in time to the music which was still blaring over the loudspeakers. “Let’s have a farewell three-way, just you, me and the kid. Whaddaya say? In the private rooms, you know? Hot shit.”
Sin snorted and looked away, letting his gaze roam over to the spectacle his coworkers made on the dance floor as they talked loudly and danced excitedly, like children who’d just gotten out of school early. “You’re not my type. Feel free to make the offer to him though.”
*facepalms himself unconscious*
Friends, let's not even go there. Lemme just say that I love me some UST in my books. But there's only so much that even I am willing to tolerate before it becomes annoying, frustrating and yes, utterly ridiculous.
Boyd's and Sin's back and forth got to the point where I completely stopped caring about their relationship. By the time they finally did the dirty (and in a very disappointing and unsatisfying scene at that), I was already over them as a couple. Add to that the most unromantic declaration of love that I have EVER read in a romance novel, and you could stick a fork in me, because I was D.O.N.E.
Nevertheless, I will continue with the series, because of the following reasons:
1. I really liked the last 30% when the pace of the story finally began to pick up, I got some action and something was finally happening. That part was suspenseful, exciting and thrilling. I was glued to my Kindle and I wanted to know what would happen next. So I'm crossing my fingers that this will set the tone for the rest of the series.
2. With the annoying UST out of the picture (and Boyd and Sin finally fucking), I hope there's more focus on the missions and the action and the overall story. Because I want to know more about the Agency and Janus.
3. RYAN! Love him, adore him, want to cuddle him. He's my favorite character and he stole every scene that he was in. I want to know more about him and I definitely want more of him and Andrew.
So would I recommend this book? Probably not. Maybe if you're an avid reader and you're reading hundreds of books per year, then you could give this one a chance. But if you don't have that much time to read and can only read every now and then, then you're probably better off reading 5-6 average long books instead.