Saturday, 13 September 2014

Artificial Gods: Book Three of The NIght's Dream Series
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Author: Thomm Quackenbush
Genre: Urban Scifi, NA
Book Rating: 10
Personal Rating: 8.3

Okay.  There is only one thing I can say about this novel.  That I absolutely loved it.  Couldn’t put it down.  Even the annoying parts of the book were curtailed by good reasons for having them in there.  This book kept me in that I can’t wait to get to the end, on the edge of my seat, tapping the screen for next page on my kindle, anxiety mode.  Which of course is what any good book should do.  So lets get to the break down.

The flow was perfect.  There was a clear goal.  The typical reluctant hero who actually went forward regardless of their trepidation.  That was nice.  I didn’t have to sit through an entire book waiting for them to wake up and get moving, they moved along while trying to convince themselves everything was just not happening.  That kept the book moving instead of pages and pages of denial till the lead finally decides to do what must be done. 

So the plot points came just when they needed to come.  The clues to the mystery always left me thinking, ahhhhh I want more.  Which is great.  Just enough to always keep me on the edge without feeling I wasn’t left hanging too long before more arrived.  Unlike the first two installments where I quite literally felt I got nothing till the end.  This book is riddle with all those enticing little tidbits of almost full information and crafty little turns that make any readers brain tingle.  All in all the plot went as it should, the events and situations where timed right.  This was a brilliant piece of fiction.

Before the character break down the biggest noticeable thing is firstly all the main characters have a certain depth that has that what you think they are on the surface only to find out, hey there is more to this person after all.  There was only one annoying back-story in this book.  The mothers.  Completely disinterested.  This book is about, Jasmine, her younger sister Chrys, and Dylan.  And they were very well developed without any need for lengthy back-story.  And finally the absence of all that virgin nonsense.  Yaaay!

So Jasmine.  I was almost annoyed with our lead.  But there was something about her annoying tenacity to protect her sister that made me keep reading.  I was secretly hoping she wasn’t this girl afraid of intimacy and the more no virgin talk came up about any of the male or female leads the more convinced I became that maybe she isn’t like his other characters.  So I didn’t really like her, yes she was annoying, but I understood her.  She was very well written, and she even not believing in aliens still went forward and researched while simultaneously trying to debunk all the truths she was finding.  That was her only floor.  The assumption that if you believed in Aliens that you were indeed crazy, when most people are normal people who just happen to believe.  She had trouble making the distinction considering she had also seen and was always on the border of believing she had indeed gone nuts. 

The best thing about her was of course the reasoning behind why she fails at relationships and seems to only have any emotion for her sister.  It was logical.  A good plot device and it came early enough in the book that she had time to deny it go through the motions and ultimately accept it in the final pages.  She did the one thing I’ve been harping on about the other books, grew.  She started of in this very over protective blah state.  But as she got faced with things beyond her and was forced to question almost everything she believed, she came out on top, better than before, and decidedly working towards becoming a whole person.

Chrys.  She seems to be flowing on the wind with this whole alien thing.  Just your typical teenager without any of the intimacy issues of the first.  And she’s just likeable, she likes boys, but is only halfway boy crazy and isn’t an idiot.  And she sort of grounds the book.  She’s the one out of the three that consciously decides that even with all that’s going on around her she is going to be normal.  Not ignore it, but just take it in stride.  And she can do that and still be scared and still have nervous breakdowns and still argue with her sister here and there.  She didn’t sacrifice the quest for information for the sake of being a normal girl.  She very seamlessly flirted through both.  This seemed to rub of a bit on her sister.  Not much but a teeny bit.  I read the book the whole time hoping that she would crack Jasmine and somehow get her to wholly let loose and stop stressing so much.

Also in the depth area.  It turns out that she too can be protective.  In the face of danger she made a choice to do something and did it in such a way the characters and the reader where fooled.  And she grows to appreciate her sister more and their bond grows into what real sisterhood should be.  The good kind.  She seemed to grow a bit stronger and had the more visible emotions of the main characters. 

Dylan.  Calm cool collective, and handsome.  My only issue with this is that Jasmine only found him attractive after a shave and business like attire for a funeral.  Just a personal peeve that rugged manly man can’t be attractive.  I always thought he was handsome, as did Chrys.  But hey that’s just me.  Moving on he was the catalyst that got the book going.  The bearer of information and somehow managed to make me smile.  Lots.  He had that odd sense of funny without ever having to crack a joke.  Just perfect for any good reader to gobble up as a love interest.  He is the believer that holds together Chrys’s just good old fashioned interest and Jasmine’s complete disbelief and he gently pushes them in all the right directions.  They would be lost without him and furthermore he just makes it all seem like it’s normal even though being hunted by aliens is clearly not normal.

He also grows a need to protect them both and ends up easily falling into a role of protector when at first he’s just a simple heartthrob with mountains of alien information.  And it’s that mountain of factoids that saves the day in the end.  And just like the other two the more he swims through the pages the more you understand what drives him and start to feel and connect with him.

And then there’s a character who was finally written well.  Gideon.  Yes.  He was helpful yet aloof.  When he was vague it wasn’t a deterrence to the three leads.  They all understood very well it seems that what was important was the information that he gave them, and not who or what he was, and why he couldn’t directly help.  Unlike the Shane in the first book who kept demanding things she didn’t need.  Once that was established, he became more helpful.  More dark, more mysterious, and just more well rounded as you wanted to see why he was even in this book, and when he was missing you questioned how he was manipulating things and why.  There was a need to know why he was being so helpful yet kind of menacing about it.  It was very snape-esque.  I’m here to help you but I am a bit of a bad guy so I’m enjoying your distress just a bit.  It was fun to read his dialogue when the characters where smart enough and receptive enough to work through his comments.  And when they couldn’t understand his theories, which did annoy me a bit too, they just ignored the philosophy and focused on the points he was straying away from with all the info.  Shane did this mostly as he came to her the most.  And the even cooler part is when you find out how he’s helping, when he’s not even there.  Suffice it to say, I’ve had a love hate relationship with this guy for two books, and finally he’s written well and half of that is because of how the characters that interact with him are written.

This book is a stray away from the first two in that it is more about the aliens than daemons.  Which makes it read like it shouldn’t even be part of this series.  The only Character from the previous two who plays a role is the Gideon.  And when I was completely annoyed to see Shane, and Roselyn, and Dryden show up at the end, the actual ending made it make sense.  They barely got three pages.  And thankfully were not a part of the ending information dumps this author loves so much.  Which almost ruined the book.  To be fair.  I didn’t need the reveal.  It was unnecessary.  And almost bumped this book down to an eight.  It was confusing, not handled very well but ultimately once it was done and the tension rearised I quickly forgot about it.  In truth without it, the book would’ve read the same without the flashback.  I didn’t even know there were loose ends that needed tying until they were tied.  But I expected that so easily ignored it.  It’s just the style of this particular author to bombard you with stuff at the end which sadly, was needed in the first two.  But since this book was crafted so well quite literally none of the explanation was needed.  The aliens did what they did, this person, (nice but somewhat predictable betrayal.  Still very good plot wise) betrayed you.  And now it’s die or live.  What shall it be?  I will admit that his explanation for what he did was needed.  Jasmine's big reveal, I kinda skimmed through it for the action at hand, and can sum it up in about four sentences.  It wasn’t that hard to figure out her reveal even skimming through those particular paragraphs.  IN my opinion the other should’ve gave the betrayer a few sentences at the beginning to explain it.  Then when Jasmine looked shocked and defiant her memory would flood back to her and she would realise it was the truth.  Quick.  Efficient, cue in evil villain maniacal laugh and move on.

So I enjoyed this.  And I knew I was going to enjoy it within the first three chapters.  That’s usually all I give a book before I decide if I’m going to be head over heals for it.  I couldn’t put it down, and it was executed well.  And only the little annoyances, Jasmine’s end reveal, the mother’s backstory, the borderline intimacy issues that the former lead characters had (thankfully there was a legitimate reason this time), I loved.  It so it gets a ten out of me.  In fact I loved it so much I almost want to tell everyone not to read my reviews for book one and two. 

And there is nothing like an ending that completely and totally explains an entire book previous.  Especially a book that I did not enjoy.  It at the very least made me smile and nod a bit at the brilliance of it all if not make me like that particular book, still don’t.  But this ending, and this book clearly shows what I thought all along.  I said twice this author’s writing style I like.  I said twice his books always felt like they were going somewhere and plateaued at going somewhere.  This book was going somewhere, took you along for the ride, reached it’s destination and then left you think, oh that’s what book two was all about.  And that’s just freakn mind-blowingly awesome.

Faith renewed I’ll read another one of his books.  Artificial Gods has saved the day.

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