Monday, 1 April 2013

Living Violet by Jaime Reed

Publication date: 27th December 2011
Published by: Dafina
Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Humour (YA)

Living Violet is the first instalment of the Cambion Chronicles and there is so much that I liked about it.

I liked the idea - the existence of Cambions: humans that are born with a sentient being living in them and feeding off the emotions (fear, anger, joy, excitement etc) of humans of the opposite sex to survive.  Cambions have the ability to attract and draw the opposite sex to them, courtesy of their sentients, for this purpose.  As a result, mere mortals have an uncontrollable tendency to throw themselves at cambions. The most vulnerable (mere mortals) are those who are unhappy in love or loveless, making them easy targets.  At the same time, those who aren't open to love are harder to attract and control.

The protagonist is Samara Marshall.  Her divorced parents and best friend's tumultuous romantic relationship have left her wary of getting invovled romatically.  Caleb Baker is a Cambion who has rejected that way of life, distanced himself from his family as a result, and is drawn to Samara because she is the only girl who isn't easily drawn to him.

Yes, I was able to work out where the story was heading, and I was right every time with my predictions, but this didn't spoil the enjoyment for me. I thought the story had a good plot that didn’t disappoint.

I loved Caleb’s pension for sweets and baked goods (they appease Capone, his sentient), earning him the pet name ‘Cake boy’, which was sweet (pardon the pun).  Without giving too much away, I also liked the thing about the quarters (as in 25 cent pieces).  I am not a fan of overly sentimental romantic novels and this one is pitched just right for me. 

I liked the humour.  There were some laugh-out-loud moments and I liked that it didn’t take itself too seriously.  For example, Caleb, who refuses to hit a woman, is taught to defend himself by getting ‘hostile female self-defence’ lessons from an expert named Douglas.

On the minus side: I am tired of what seems to be an obsession with chastity in some YA novels.  Did Samara's 'purity' have to play such an integral part to the plot? It reminded me of a certain novel that has since been turned into a movie and is very popular with teenagers - and their mums.  In that book, although the subtext was annoying, I got WHY it was significant to the plot, I just don’t see why it needed to be in this book. (It didn't go unnoticed that Living Violet has a dig at Twilight.  I am not a fan of the author Stephenie Meyer but I thought it was uncalled for - especially since so many YA novels are to some extent riding on the back of the success of Twilight - including this one.)  That said, I highly recommend Living Violet and the Cambion Chronicles series.

10 February 2014
Update: I have also reviewed Fading Amber.

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