Descended by Blood
First book of the A Vampire Born trilogy
Paranormal / YA / Vampires
Release Date: Friday, August 26, 2011
I hate writing bad reviews. I especially hate writing a bad review when an author has provided me their work personally and I know that decency requires I directly contact them with a link to said review. I normally go into a book wanting to love it and I either do or I'm met with disappointment. There have been a few occasions where I head into a book dreading it, but that's rare (and usually something with a reputation such as Twilight) and in the case with Descended by Blood, this wasn't one of them. I went in with an open mind and a generally optimistic attitude due to the high starred reviews on Goodreads. But then I was let down.
There’s nothing really unique about this book. We have a teenage girl, who finds out she’s inadvertently involved in a society she had no idea existed. We have the love triangle that splits said teenage girl between her old life and her new one. We have an excessively long set of scenes that read like a training montage from an 80s movie, just really drawn out. Then of course there’s the whole “vampire” thing. What could have still been an interesting story was marred by a set of unlikable characters and pacing issues that had nearly all the action occurring in the last three chapters.
Our protagonist is a high school girl named Brooke, who finds out that she’s half “vampire” and because of that, some people in the “vampire” community want her dead. Brooke has a crush on this guy, Jaren, who is a complete indecisive ass for most of the book, and her best friend Kaitlynn is trying to get her through the everyday trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl. All of this is fine and could have been the building blocks to an interesting if middle-of-the-road YA vampire novel. Instead Brooke is one of the most wishy-washy, bi-polar main characters I’ve read about recently. She’s the type of girl who thinks if she pretends something isn’t happening, it will go away. Rather than going from a typical teenage girl to a potentially strong character that accepts the challenges ahead of her, she cries. A lot. Nearly every single chapter. I am not even kidding. In nearly every single chapter, Brooke either starts bawling or is holding back tears. I almost wanted to start a drinking game.
Then there’s Brooke’s ability to go from woe-is-me-the-world-is-ending misery to “Oh, this is my favorite song EVER! Let’s sing and dance and have a good time!” so quickly that I nearly got whiplash. I could ignore it had it happened once, but there were a number of times when Brooke was in world-ending despair and then, a few lines later, suddenly laughing and having a good time. I get that teenage girls aren’t always the most consistent people in the world, but it seemed too “fit the character’s emotions to what I need the story to do” and not “let the story develop organically from the characters”.
Going along with the previous observation, I just have to state that if I ever find myself in mortal peril, the very last thing I will be thinking about is whether or not to make out with the hot vampire guy who is helping me escape.
Of course there are some things I liked. In Kace’s vampire world, there are two subsets of vampires – the Pijawika, who are born as “evolved humans” that are often mistaken as vampires (though that brings up a whole lot of logic issues I had to push aside), and the Zao Duh, those who were once human and were changed somehow (never really explained). Each Pijawikan has a special ability, including setting people on fire with their minds (always a fun power to have) or becoming invisible. Then there is a group of humans who act as mobile feeding farms for the vampires, though they’re only mentioned once and never seen or heard from again.
The politics between the two different subsets of supernatural beings was interesting as well as the resulting factional difference within the Pijawika, though I would have liked to have seen the inner workings of the society as it was in present day instead of just hearing about history. The main bad guy had a lot of potential (despite doing dumb things like giving an ultimatum that the good guys meet you somewhere and then lighting their only form of transportation on fire), but barely featured in the story. I was hoping the story would be redeemed by the resolution to the main conflict, but it happened so fast in comparison to the chapters of training and sitting around, that it left me unsatisfied.
And then there was Mirko. Despite my hatred of love triangles, more often than not, one of the characters appeals to me. In Descended by Blood that was Mirko, the military-minded Zao Duh who acted as Brooke’s gateway into the world of the Pijawika. His sarcasm and relentless flirting gave him more personality in a couple of scenes than Jaren developed in the entire book. Thankfully Jaren gets pushed into a closet at some point (figuratively speaking) and Mirko is featured more. I have to give Kace credit for making me grin at Brooke and Mirko’s reunion post-conflict (cryptic much?). More of that, less with the crying.
Of course we end with a sudden unforeseen twist of fate that sets us up for the next book in the series. Thankfully by the end Brooke has become more accepting of the life she now lives and will hopefully be a much stronger character next time around.
I think my biggest disappointment was that I could see glimpses of a good story bogged down by all the angst and annoying character traits. Perhaps with a little more character development from the start and better pacing instead of putting all the action at the very end (or occasionally off screen), Descended by Blood could have been a stronger debut.
Annoying characters; extreme pacing issues; lacking of development and featuring of the qualities that did come across as interesting
A copy of Descended by Blood was provided to me by the author