Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review — The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Summary (via Goodreads): What if love refused to die?

Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

Review: I originally came across this book from a review by Jody who counted The Eternal Ones as a book she just couldn’t put down. I've liked a lot of the books she's recommended (and she's a fellow Kelley Armstrong lover) so her positive review made me really excited to get my hands on what seemed like a fantastic new YA series. While I didn’t share her opinion that this was an “unputdownable,” it was an interesting concept.

The idea of past lives is incredibly interesting and I haven’t seen many (if any) books on this phenomenon/idea. However, it takes Miller at least half the book to get to the actual story of Haven and Iain’s past lives. Much of the beginning of the story deals with Haven’s family and her town, which have little impact later when she goes to New York. We learn all about her grandmother and mother, but they disappear once Haven ventures out on her own in search of Ethan (or Iain or whatever...the dual name thing gets old quickly).

Luckily, her best friend Beau is kept in the mix through phone calls. I have to say that Beau is probably the best gay best friend ever created in YA. He’s funny, smart, and original. He’s got his own life and tells Haven exactly what she needs to hear like “you’re acting like a crazy fool,” or “hello, I have my own life and it doesn’t revolve around you and your drama.” I love that Miller didn’t just make him service Haven’s story but created him as a well-rounded character that isn’t clichéd at all.

Between Haven’s creepy reverend, her Bible-beating grandmother, and her Pentecostal friend (who sees the future?) religion plays a big part of Haven’s story. However, Miller never really connects the dots between Haven’s reincarnation and religion. I almost feel like I would have liked The Eternal Ones better if it was either about religion and the forces that are pushing Haven’s journey along OR about past lives. The use of both was just confusing and led to a feeling like I was reading a book that couldn't figure out exactly what story it wanted to tell.

I don’t think it helped that I was supposed to buy into this epic love between Iain and Haven, but found her much more interesting on her own or with Beau. Iain just seemed incredibly controlling and condescending. He was always manipulating Haven into doing something she didn’t want to and lying to her.  He is supposed to be “like a drug” for Haven, but I didn’t really understand his charisma or power over her. I found myself hoping he was as shady as he seemed just so she wouldn’t end up with him. That said, Miller does do a good job of keeping you guessing. I felt just as lost as Haven as she tried to navigate this new world where she didn’t know who was telling the truth. It’s rare that I feel like I totally have no clue what’s coming next like I did with The Eternal Ones.

I think the concept of half lives would make a great YA series, but I doubt I’ll pick up the second book in this one. An interesting story and a couple of good characters gets bogged down by too many ideas (seriously I didn't even talk about the horribly named Ouroboros Society which is a whole other concept that would take forever to discuss) and and plot threads that go nowhere.

Lit Snit Verdict: C

I'd be interested to see what other people think of this one though, seeing as I had such a different reaction than the other review I saw of The Eternal Ones.  Have any of you read it?  What did you think?

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