Monday, April 13, 2015

JR Ward - The Shadows

Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on... except for his brother, iAm.
iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around... but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.
Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice...

Comment: This is the most recent installment in the BDB series which became my favorite paranormal series since I read the first book, back in 2006. From that book on, my reading habits changed and my love for paranormal romance evolved considerably. 
This new book is surrounded by many critics, by many personal opinions and not always about the whole content. While I still enjoyed the book, it's with sadness I think it's not better accepted almost on purpose...

In this book, the main characters are Trez and iAm, the shadow brothers we've come to know from several books ago. As always, tidbits about them were small, sparse, a little detail here and there and that is a suggestive way to bring the curiosity in the readers. Now their stories are here, all mixed together like their connection always has been, but each one has a different path to walk and different women that will be the center of their lives...

The majority of things I'd like to say is a spoiler for many people I'm sure. I don't know how to explain my opinion and my thoughts without telling why and that would ruin things for others. I'll stick to vague things and if anyone wants spoilers (that can be found everywhere I'm sure!, but still, I'm trying to be neutral on that here) you can say so.

I think I won't explore details. This post will center about things I liked, things I disliked and why I think this book was executed wrong and what that means for me, as a fan.
So, just to summarize the sub plots mentioned in the book:
The series is read almost like a tv show. Each book is an episode or a double episode with things happening and we, as a reader/viewer can follow several things at the same time.
There's the brother's lives which we keep track of, even in little scenes here and there;
There's the Layla/Xcor sub plot which has an interesting take here;
There's the main plot of Trez/Selena and iAm and his lady;
There's Assail and his less than stellar existence which I hope is developed a lot more in the future than how it was in this book;
There's Rahge and his self doubts/love for Mary thoughts;
There's the introduction of the future couple, sort of, for the BDB Legacy book, coming out in December;
There's Luchas and his problems which do matter but serve here as a comparison system more or less.
All these things are addressed in this book, some with a more vibrant take than others but all are a way to complement the story and I actually like the multiple story lines, POVs and ideas. I'm a fan of this so in this aspect I can't agree with those who say she doesn't pay attention to less things to make them better, I like this variety.

So, also to summarize, what I liked:
- The overall plot seemed good, many things to explore, to look for, to want to see;
- iAm is a surprise, I liked him, his personality, his simple but dedicated way of helping his brother, of being there...
- Xcor and Layla are reaching a point where things need to be solved and I hope the next book will be that or at least be the one where they reach the point where a book of their own is urgent.
- The writing seems tighter, more well thought.
- To see so many characters, to have a little idea of how they are, how their lives are being shaped.

What I didn't like:
- The way the author didn't write things in the way that would suit her voice and that of her characters which she keeps saying are the ones in control and also of the readers who hope and wish for a year to have the new book;
- Trez's sub plot is special but wasn't presented in the best way, in my opinion;
- Some lesser scenes...I think she should ditch them completely because they're redundant and pointless at this stage and just knowing the Brothers are fighting is enough instead of scenes with them.

There are some key points many readers say ruined the book for them. I could speak about what a romance is, why a HEA happens and is necessary but in my honest opinion, all the bad stuff being said, all Ward's posts about "they made me do it" when she says her characters rule the show, all the negative opinions from readers who feel cheated or wronged, all the things people think were done badly, for me, I think there's a simple way of having avoided all that! I just think it's a problem of perspective. The author told what she wanted, hat she felt was the story to show. Fine. She is the creator here. But she could have said, done, showed, presented the same things with a different focus! This little detail would have made her book the same it is now but probably with better acceptance.
What most readers complain about and hated could still happen but with a different focus it wouldn't feel as bad. This is just my opinion.

Like I said, many things happen and that affects each reader differently. For me, the concept of the world, the original purpose/story line/ genre wasn't betrayed but I understand why others feel so.
I'll keep reading the series like I say since the books started to "change". But I understand why the author is losing readers and why the series is not what it used to be.
This book, as a whole, is still positive for me, but the execution could have been so much better.
Grade: 7/10

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