Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller

Title: The Eternal Ones
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Razor Bill (Penguin), 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 411 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: November 10, 2010
Finished: November 13, 2010

From the inside cover:
Haven Moore has always lived in the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee. But for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance, whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in a fiery tragedy.

One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to New York City to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is he her murderer in a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know who to trust?

Beware, here there be spoilers!
Oh, this book made me sad in a way that had nothing to do with the story itself. The story has so much potential to knock your socks off: reincarnation across thousands of years which makes for an awesome backstory, lovers destined to find each other in each lifetime, a heroine who is ostracized in her religious hometown because of her visions and forced to flee, plus can you not love Beau? But alas this story suffers from "incredibly infuriating heroine syndrome", which takes all the potential in this story and just makes my suspension of disbelief very hard to do.

Haven is good in the beginning, I'll give her that. Her dad died in a horrible accident, her mom went a little insane from finding out he cheated on her, custody of Haven went to her bible-thumping grandmother who thinks Haven is possessed by a demon; and throughout all of this, Haven has visions of her past life that result in epileptic-like reactions that she tries to hide for fear of her grandmother's retribution....she's had it hard and she's admirable because of it. She decides to seek out these visions once and for all by going to New York City, where she is sure Ethan is waiting for her in the form of Iain Morrow. But once the reader gets to part two of the novel and she meets Iain and gets caught up in the Ouroboros Society it just becomes a downward spiral until you just want to smack Haven upside the head.

Even ignoring the fact that there is supposed to be some seed of doubt about Ethan's affections for Constance and that Ethan murdered Constance back in the day (which the book doesn't do a convincing job of), Haven is way too trusting of the wrong people. She doesn't make the connection to the people she acknowledges are following her on her way to and in New York with the Grey Men of the Ouroboros Society that Marta tells her of, which is so obvious it's amazing she didn't see it. Even after having visions of a rival for Ethan's affections and figuring out that that person is Padma, she still naively believes every negative thing about Ethan that she tells her, even when it doesn't make much sense. Even after having visions of someone as a rival for her affections she still doesn't make the connection that the whole plot against Ethan/Iain might just be to secure her for himself. I mean, the plot was so incredibly easy to deduce for myself as a reader, I just kept thinking in my head, "my god, Haven, a twelve-year-old could've done a better job of this than you."

I got a little fed up with Haven's detective work, especially since she didn't do a good job of it, but moreso because it involved her calling up Beau and all their conversations going something like this: "Beau, something's going on here, help me research so and so." "Haven, so and so's trouble, run for the hills girl!" "No Beau, I have to stick it out to uncover the truth." Over and over and over again....insert urge to smack Haven up the head here. I kept thinking if Beau had actually been with her in New York City instead of back in Tennessee they would've gotten to the end of this whole thing a heck of a lot faster, Beau seemed to have better instincts about the whole thing.

Other than Haven just making things worse for herself, the whole romance between her and Iain is more telling than showing. I get that it's supposed to be true love reunited and that they will instantly get attached without logic playing into it, but as a reader I still need to see evidence of that love rather than hearing Haven just say she loves him.

Again, this book has great potential, it sucked me in and kept me reading because the premise is so amazing. I loved how the author gave little snippets of Haven and Iain's past lives: what they were, what time period they lived in, how they searched for each other, plus their original forms from back in Ancient Greece (knowing the original story explains a lot of things). I also loved the character of Beau, and how the author validated his and Haven's friendship because they also knew each other in a past life. Plus Beau's gay...and designs dresses, not that he's stereotypically flaming gay or anything (he's actually the opposite), I just like seeing characters in YA novels that happen to be homosexual, we don't have nearly enough of them that are as well-developed and admirable as Beau is.

The book wraps things up just fine, it all comes together fairly well, so it's not a complete waste. There is supposed to be a sequel to this novel coming out soon, so although I have my reservations, I'll be giving it a try when it comes out just because I want to give a story with such potential a chance to redeem itself.

An amazing premise of reincarnation in a love story. Lots of wonderful details, but the heroine might make some people a little frustrated. Perfectly safe content wise, no sex goes on between Haven and Iain, not even any explicit make-out sessions. There are some bible-thumping repercussions (everyone thinks Haven is possessed), so some teaching moments might need to occur for kids that aren't so well-versed in that side of religion.

Thoughts on the cover:
Love it: very simple, but very effective. I love the solid red background, and the fact that the Ouroboros Society logo has been changed just slightly to resemble a cursive capital O. The snake is shiny and metallic too, and I love shiny covers.

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