Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Bound - The Caelian Cycle #2

Bound by Vengeance. Bound by Loss. Bound by Fear.

Sadie has found the resolve to fight the man who caused so much pain in her life. Her tentative alliance with the HCA underground gives her the resources to train both her body and Talent for when she comes face to face with her grandfather. Being separated from her friends at St Vincent’s is harder than she could have ever realized and it doesn’t help that Kian has withdrawn from her as well. With help from a new friend, Sadie uncovers more about her past and that someone close to her has been keeping secrets from Sadie her entire life. Tragedy strikes close to home, giving a longstanding enemy, one desperate and willing to do anything to have Sadie on their side, an opportunity to arise. Allies and friends come together to stand against evil, but at a terrible cost. Sadie’s history and future collide while the world is thrown into chaos.

I really enjoyed Lost, the first book in the The Caelian Cycle series by Donnielle Tyner. So much so that I'm extra disappointed in the follow up, Bound. And I can sum up my disappointment in one word. Romance.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good bookish romance and some well written sexual tension between characters, even the odd love triangle/rectangle/occasional pentagon, as long as they don't overshadow everything else. Which is exactly what happens in this book. The stakes should be up from Lost. Sadie's dangerous Talent has been revealed to the world, and the human/Caelian groups are on the brink of all out war, with factions fighting amongst themselves to use Sadie for their own gain. But at a third of the way through the book, I was still getting none of that urgency, none of that drama. Only page after page of Sadie and Kian kissing, groping and making googly eyes at each other.

And then there's the love triangle.

It's needless, there's no suggestion at any point that Sadie will pick the siren Talented Luca over Kian, but it comes up over and over to inject unnecessary tension between the pair. Even a decidely non-urgent rescue operation of a fellow Caelian is an excuse to set up more sexual tension, arguments and make up kissing. Everything else is pushed to the side. Sadie gets captured for torture whilst on a date at some sort of make out point with Kian, and at one time she asks him if he wants to date exclusively when they've just been almost killed. Guys, you know there's almost a war going on right? Even an attack on Sadie's school and best friends is swamped in couplings and kissing. It robs the book of momentum and the story of impact, frustratingly confining it to a handful of characters when it should be expanding it.

There are bright spots that peer through the story. Sadie's capture and torture are fittingly brutal, and the attack on St Vincent's gutting in its consequences. These are the elements I was expecting in the sequel and if the story had focused on the bigger picture, I think I would have loved it. But I was disappointed that Sadie's grandfather, the big bad of the story resorted to what was essentially a custody court case to try and get hold of her. This is a world where people can conjure fire from the air, wield chains from their bodies like Doctor Octopus and drain life forces with a touch. Why am I reading a courtroom drama when I could be reading an all out, superpowered battle of epic proportions?!

I was disappointed with Bound, especially after enjoying Lost so much. It turns away from the large-scale epic struggle between good and evil that I so badly wanted it to be, retreating almost defiantly back into the underground of the HCA when it should be focusing on the bigger picture.

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