Thursday, March 22, 2012

Series Review: Strange Angels

Strange Angels, Betrayals, Jealousy, Defiance, Reckoning
by Lili St. Crow

Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 5 

This is my first time reviewing a series as a whole, rather than each book individually. My reason for doing so it because, well, in this case, it's rather hard to simply review one book at a time; each book provides the perfect segway into the next and  the entire storyline and everything is just much easier to review and talk about once I finished the entire series. I'll try not to spoil too much for those who haven't read/finished the entire series, but beware because I probably will have to disclose some spoilery info....
So, quick summary time: this series is about a girl named Dru, who, for a long time now, has been moving from place to place with her dad. And what do they do when the get to these new towns? They exterminate otherworldly pests pretty much. Whether it's a bad case of voodoo or hex, they show up and take care of it. But all changes one day when Dru's father doesn't come home one night..... Oh, don't worry, he does return, but just as a zombie. Yeah, that's right, people can be turned into zombies. From that moment, Dru's pretty much on her own--and to top it off, she find out she's not completely human either! She's actually part-supernatural, half of one of the creatures she and her father spent years hunting. 
From there, she, along with the help of Graves and Christophe (who are also not exactly human...) escapes perilous dangers and creatures who want her dead, and finds her way to the Schola, a place for half-vampires and wulfen. (Spoiler!) Dru is a svetocha--a female half-vampire (note: half-vampires aka djampir and svetocha are good, full suckers= super duper bad!) and it just so happens that svetochas are extremely rare because they've been hunted religiously by full vampires because there's something in their natural make up that's toxic to full-on suckers. 
      Now, you'd think everything would be just peachy right? WRONG. All the suckers, especially the King, Sergej, himself wants her dead. To top it off, there are traitors and backstabbers within the Schola itself who are willing to give Dru up to be killed.
      Oh, and, of course, there is something of a love triangle involving her, Christophe (a super powerful, but rogue djampir) and Graves (a human-turned-loup-garou

DO NOT THINK TWILIGHT! Yes, okay, I know there's a vampire-werewolf love triangle, but believe me, Strange Angels could not be more different than Twilight. For one, this series is so freaking kicka$$ it's actually kinda ridiculous! Dru Anderson is, by far, one of the toughest heroines I've ever met! That girl knows her stuff when it comes to hexing, wards, guns, and survival. Again and again, Dru's world is turned upside down as she learns more about her own role in the supernatural world, all the while dealing with doubt, betrayal, confusion, unknown family history, and a little anger at the fact that she's part sucker. Yet despite all of the things thrown her way, she is tough as nails, and always picks herself back up. Even if she doesn't want to do it, she does because she knows people are depending on her. 

The love triangle was..... just all-around really great! For the first time, as I was reading, I had absolutely no clue just who Dru was going to end up with! I was a total Team Graves person myself, but good God, there were so many times I thought to myself: "Dang it! She's totally gonna end up with Christophe!" because she would talk about how, with Graves, she felt safer, whereas Christophe was pure danger and electricity, and of course, in YA novels, the girl always picks the dangerous bad boy! But surprisingly, the series ending that Lili St. Crow wrote was..... kinda highly refreshing. Without giving anything away, the ending totally wasn't what I was expecting, yet at the same time, I felt like it was the best possible ending for the series. And.... it does set it up for a follow-up book or spin-off..... FINGERS CROSSED! 
Another thing, though, is that, while there is definitely a romantic element to this series, it doesn't dominate the plot line. It was there, but it wasn't like Dru's biggest dilemma and mindset was "oh, which guy will I choose???" Puh-leaze, she's too busy trying to stay alive for that kind of thinking.

 As for the plot itself, I really liked it, but again, the plot is more of an overarching kind of thing, that in order to have the complete storyline, you really have to read the whole series. Though, that being said, I also felt like the books could've been, I don't know, a little shorter maybe? It's just that after finishing each book, I realized not much actually happened. I mean, yes, there were super intense moments, but that was basically the climax of the book; it was just one (maybe 2) moment(s). 
Also, another thing that was a little... annoying, to me personally, was this sense of a "gap" between conversations in the book. Literally, Dru will be talking to someone and then, bam! For the next couple of paragraphs, you're either reading the rather long thoughts running through her head, or reliving some of her past memories. It kind of got on my nerves because there would just be this huge gap in the conversations, and sometimes, I'd have to go back and re-read the last part of the dialogue! 

Another reason why this book wasn't a gull 5 stars was because I felt like St. Crow never really explained everything about the "Real World." Seriously, just what the heck is the "aspect" or the "Other" or Dru's personal special senses??? Don't get me wrong, I like it when the author doesn't bombard you with information at the very beginning, telling you all this background info at once, but the thing is, when the series ended, she still hadn't actually explained it!!! Also, WHAT THE HECK IS DRU SHORT FOR?!?! Sigh, either St. Crow wants to leave us in the dark about some things, or expects us to fill in the blanks for ourselves, or she is just (again, fingers crossed) is planning for a spin-off/follow-up novel. But either way, this little fact frustrated me quite a bit!

BUT all in all, I think this series was freaking fantastic! My personal favorites out of all the books would probably be book #1, 2, and 5. Strong beginning and strong finish. It's not your typical run-of-the-mill YA supernatural series. In some ways, it's a little mature because St. Crow tells it like it is---she doesn't romanticize the situation or descriptions, and I liked how it made the storyline more real. Also, just warning you, there is kind of a lot of cursing in these books, so, probably not the best choice for young kids. But seriously, this series is pretty darn amazing, and I highly recommend it.

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