Monday, October 11, 2021

The Damned (The Beautiful, #2) - Renee Ahdieh

Summary: Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn. Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)
My Review: I’m a little nervous to write this because I think it’s going to be an unpopular opinion. However, I have never shied away from what needs to be said. I thought this book was boring. On paper (har har) it should be super exciting—vampires, werewolves, fantasy people; am extravagant world that is dark and mysterious; murder and vendetta and, randomly, a walk through an alternative universe-type situation that had me feel like I’d switched books briefly. It sounds super interesting, right? However, I had a hard time bringing myself to read it. I can usually pound a YA book out like it’s no big thang. A few days, little commitment, it all works out. Not this one. I’ve been reading this thing for weeks. I finally finished.

In its defense, the book does pick up about ¾ of the way through. Suddenly, the story just seemed to hit its stride and the reading went faster. I still wasn’t rushing to finish like I should be, but it was okay, and I got ‘er done.

I’ve been trying to search my soul and evaluate my life and find out what made this so difficult for me, and I’ve settled on the idea that this particular section of the story (because it has four books in the series so far, this is the second one; you can review our review of The Beautiful here) felt like the story was just in a holding pattern. Geographically they all just sort of stayed in their house, and there was a lot of talk about what was happening—back story, people changing, etc., but the real action didn’t come until much later. Also, I don’t think I really liked the characters. They weren’t very fleshed out, and their names were pretentious and hard to keep track of. I get it, this is bougie New Orleans old school vampire stuff, which sounds super cool, but it was actually just lackluster. There was a lot of preening about and flashing teeth but very little actual action and excitement. The story skips around to different characters a lot, which makes it hard to know or care about any of them too deeply. I understand that this is a story about a group of characters—a whole set of vampires, a whole set of werewolves, and then a whole lotta other randos, but it just made it hard to know them and therefore care about them. Being in a holding pattern and not knowing the characters in the holding pattern made for a rather dry experience.

Sometimes it is hard for a series to maintain the level of excitement as it creates in some of the installments. Sometimes things are just happening, and it’s necessary for other parts of the story to just develop the backstory and chill while waiting for things to come. Based on the ending in this book, I can see that this might be the case for this novel, and so I am optimistic for the next one. However, I won’t be rushing out and putting it at the front of my reading pile.

My Review: 2.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is one quite descriptive and steamy sex scene. I found it quite intense for the YA audience this book is intended for.

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