Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Shadowfever (Fever, #5) by Karen Marie Moning

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Fever, #1
Author: Karen Marie Moning
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Publisher: Delacourte Press (Random House)
Read an Excerpt
Where to Purchase: Amazon || Kindle
Reviewed by: Aimee
Source: Paperback copy
Rating: Epic Win! 5 - 1 + 1 out of 5
"You accuse me of illusion. You—with your absurd construct of linear time. You fashion for yourself a prison of watches, clocks, and calendars. You rattle bars forged of hours and days, but you’ve padlocked the door with past, present and future.

Puny minds need puny caves.

You cannot gaze upon time’s true face any more than you can behold mine.

To apprehend yourself as the center, to simultaneously perceive all combinations of all possibles, should you choose to move in any direction—“direction” being a very limited method of attempting to convey a concept for which your race has no word—that is what it is to be me." - The Sinsar Dubh

***Ambivalence is me.***
Bah! I'm really ambivalent about this book. Dang-it! It's great story telling, just... incomplete storytelling. Karen Moning is an excellent writer, a great weaver of mystery, suspense, and intrigue. I felt that way throughout the entire series. It was never lacking in detail, development, or complexities. What it is lacking in for me is closure! Where is the answer key to all the questions she created in her great mysterious puzzle? I'm in constant vacillation (fancy new word from SF-thank you Ms. Moning) between Really Liking Shadowfever and LOVING Shadowfever. And there's no question I like this book, because I do. It just has some issues that are torturing me.

I've listed my issues with the book below my original review. There are spoilers in that section so you may want to skip it if you haven't read the book. I'm leaving my original review intact, the way I wrote it because... in the end, it was still an excellent story and an EPIC adventure. I just wish I didn't feel a little... manipulated? Be forewarned. This is the longest review I've ever written and I get bit ranty.

***** Original review *****
I just finished Shadowfever and… WOW!!! Predictability is not a word you could use to describe KMMs’ Fever series. In fact, this last book is a doozy. Although, a couple of my theories turned out to be true in the end, it was never a straight and easy path to get from here to there. I can honestly say there was never a time I had this story completely figured out. Just when I thought I’d gotten close, the story took a sharp turn and completely screwed up all my speculations. As always, Shadowfever was just as addictive as the last 4 books in this series. It got under my skin and stayed there. Sadly, it's also the last. **sobs** When your done, it leaves you immersed in a "Fever Fog" difficult to shake and nearly impossible to move on from.

Like I said in my last four reviews... this is NOT a sparkly fairy tale about tiny beings with gossamer wings and fairy dust. It is a dark story with highly evolved, ancient, otherworldly beings that have been a part of our human world before the record of time itself. As with any story about good and evil, you find yourself worried for the main character. Where are they going in their journey and what choices are they going to make? Are they being fooled into “batting for the wrong team?” Are good and evil really what they appear to be? Who can they trust? Along with death, acceptance of who you are and love, these are some of the many issues plaguing Mac.

Typical of all the books in the Fever series, this last book delivered a fantastic and vividly created world with a suspenseful story line. The characters were intriguing and I found myself getting emotionally invested in all them. From Barrons jack-assy men and headstrong Mac, to the imperious Fae, and many other interesting, new additions, there was absolutely no lack in character development. I was also surprised at the humorous situations ***most of them dark*** and interesting dialogue created in Shadowfever. Although the same could be found in all the books in Fever, this last one beats the rest hands down.

I loved Shadowfever and all it's complexities. It just proves what I already knew... Karen Marie Moning is an amazing writer. Who else can write a series that has so much mystery, foreshadowing and mirroring going on that it's almost a puzzle for your brain. You can literally reread it and find things you previously missed or took for granted. And her ability to come up with great dialogue and amazing one liners is also a rare talent. I think I damn near highlighted every page of this book.

I do have to admit being worried before I started. I had REALLY high expectations and sometimes that can totally ruin a book when it doesn’t deliver. Some series are great right up to the end and fizzle out with a conclusion that leaves you unimpressed. Shadowfever, on the other hand, was satisfying, but over way too soon. In fact, I was really saddened when it ended. I wanted more pages to magically appear at the end of the book so I could keep reading it into infinity. But the ending was good. Both closure (sort of) and… rebirth? While it answered some questions Mac’s journey created, new story possibilities were woven into Shadowfever at the same time. And the journey was EPIC!

I did have a few things that bothered me. The ending was not as neat and tidy as I would have liked. But truly great story telling that captures the imagination is not always neat and tidy. Life, itself, can be chaotic and does not always provide you with all the answers. A book is a success if you find yourself thinking about it hours, days and even weeks after you’ve finished reading it. And it’s a REAL success if you find yourself going back to read it again. ***guilty!*** I don't think there's a fan out there that hasn't or wouldn't reread this series again and again. That's what makes the Fever series so remarkable.

I recommend the Fever series to anyone. And, in fact, I challenge you to read the first novel and stop there. I bet you’ll find that pretty difficult, if not impossible. It’s captivating, intoxicating and addictive. As silly as it sounds, I think some fans are literally suffering from Fever withdrawal. I know I did.

Now, for my take on the romance. Also, the CONS I had with Shadowfever are listed below but contain spoilers. Continue at your own risk.

***First... the Romance! Hot, sexy, erotic... ROWR!***
Everyone missing the romance found in Moning’s previous series will not be disappointed. Shadowfever delivers. But it’s not a delicate, tender romance with chocolate, flowers and pretty rainbows. This is Barrons and Mac we’re talking about. The constant Jack-Ass and headstrong glamour girl turned dark warrior. They’re relationship has caused many a reader to toss books across rooms in total exasperation. One poster on the Fever message board admitted to yelling, “Say it! Just saaaaay it! See what happens!— Noooo, don’t say THAT! UGH!” I can see many us doing that, because Mac and Barrons are stubborn, obstinate characters that refuse to reveal any vulnerability by being the first to admit to having feelings for each other. As one would expect from a romance between Mac and Barrons, it’s... frustrating, wild, dark and crazy erotic to the nth degree. A reread of all the good scenes is recommended and HIGHLY... unavoidable.

Yes... I do have some. There were strings left untied and I didn’t get ALL the answers I was expecting. If were being perfectly honest here... I felt a little let down after all the many months of fans sleuthing, playing P.I. and rereading books for clues. It's one of the many things that made it so interesting and fun! A really good "Who done it" with the promise of a mystery solved at the end. And in the end, she answered only a limited amount and said the rest was open to our own interpretations? I know that most fans are saying they're okay with that and they don't need to know more. But I would be lying to myself and everyone else if I fell in line and said I felt the same way.

I just didn't understand... why create a puzzle only to leave out important pieces that would make it whole? Why create a character so intriguing and interesting that your drawn in by him and then ask us NOT to be curious about all the mystery surrounding him? That's hard not to do because it's human nature to be curious. Mystery demands answers. At least for me it does.

My other beef... we're supposed to be judging Barrons by his actions during this series and not his past... but besides the way he protects Mac, he and his men appear to be tipping the scales toward evil and that makes it hard to justify liking them. Which is difficult, because I really DO like them. You can't help yourself and that makes for some really conflicted feelings.

Lets be perfectly honest here. Barrons and his 8 are sociopathic serial killers. Barrons is an admitted serial killer for his son. What we don't know is... are they selective in who they kill? Do they take any person off the street? Someone's wife or husband, father or mother, son or daughter, sister or brother? Someone like Alina? Or do they make a conscious effort to select someone of a dark nature?

I'm conflicted that KMM has gone out of her way to create such intriguing characters that draw you in, make you emotionally invested in them and then not give you enough rationale to make them worth liking! Just like I feel conflicted for liking Dexter (Who is a serial killer!) But at least that author gives you some small grain of rationale to battle with the internal conflict his character creates within the reader.

Also, Ryodan allows protection of Unseelie while they murder unsuspecting humans in his bar. Granted they're obsessive patrons searching for gratification. But how many of us don't see some part of ourselves in those unfortunate humans? Are we all so perfect that we think that would never be us down there searching for immortality? It seems the thinking here is... go ahead... kill people. It's perfectly okay. As long as we don't know them personally, what difference does it make? Our own survival is all that truly matters. Everyone else is just collateral damage?

Moning mentioned her goal was to create characters with shades of grey who are neither good or evil, hero or anti-hero. However, I still think it possible to give some "light" to those characters without upsetting the balance and tipping them one way or the other. It can be done without making them into hero's. Right now... they appear to be tipping AWAY from the light... into the anti-hero "dark zone". But if we like them that way anyways... then what does that say about us? Yay for the murderers and killers! Screw the good guy! -- He was boring to read about anyway.

I realize, when it comes right down to it, these are really more personal issues. But these are my opinions and my husband doesn't agree with me at all, so maybe you won't either. Decide for yourself.

While Karen Moning did mention that she wanted to leave some things up to the interpretation of the reader, I prefer more closure. But I realize in order to move on with another 3 book story arc in the series—which is what she has planned—some things can’t be tidied up with complete answers without also giving away your next storyline. I'm okay with that. She's asked us to -- Keep the faith. So I'm keepin' the faith! Which I couldn't do if her writing was anything less than spectacular in the first place.

What else is saving this book for me? The promise of more to come, possible rationale for Barrons that would navigate him closer to the middle between good and evil, and the fact that I would reread the whole darned series all over again, regardless. Many times, in fact. It's still that good despite all my whiny complaints.

I originally gave this series 5 stars when I first wrote my review, then murdered a star because of my ambivalence with the whole thing. But I'm going to give Ms. Moning that star back for 2 reason.

First, I just found out that after the 3 book story arc featuring Dani, Christian and Ryodan, KMM is returning to write more about Mac and Barrons. [♥ ♥ ♥ Feel the love Ms. Moning? You have made me sooo very, very, happy!♥ ♥ ♥]

Second, I've come to realize, just how spectacular her writing is to cause me this much internal struggle over characters that aren't even real. It's not like I have problems with the characters because I don't like them or they're poorly written. I have problems with them because I do like them. She's masterfully written characters that made me care so much that I struggle with who they AREN'T turning out to be, just like a parent might struggle with a troubled teen. It takes excellent writing to make you feel that strongly. It takes a great storyteller to get you to care enough about the book and the characters to be disappointed in the end when you don't get the closure you desired. If you didn't care about the story and characters to begin with... you wouldn't care about the ending either. So here's your star back Ms. Moning. You definitely deserve it.

ratingFiction Fool

Other Reviews of Darkfever:
All Things Urbn Fantasy: 5 of 5
Fiction Vixen: 5 of 5
Red Hot Books: 5 of 5
Parajunkee's View: 5 of 5

About the Fever Series:
Fever In a Nutshell: the players, locations, stakes
Behind the Scenes: Fever series

Role Playing Fun [Character Pages]:
MacKayla Lane [Facebook/Twitter]
Jericho Barron [Facebook/Twitter]
V'Lane [Facebook/Twitter]
Ryodan [Facebook/Twitter]
Christian [Facebook/Twitter]
Darroc [Facebook/Twitter]
Dani [Facebook/Twitter]

Other Books in the Fever Series:
Darkfever [Fever, #3]
Bloodfever [Fever, #2]
Faefever [Fever, #3]
Dreamfever [Fever, #4]
Shadowfever [Fever, #5]

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