Monday, January 13, 2014

Nightshade Prequels: Rift and Rise by Andrea Cremer

Usually, I hate when an author writes a prequel series to one of their other series. Why? Because most of the time, I have already read the original series so I know what happens and/or who those characters are, and sometimes – not all the time – the authors create plot holes by writing the prequels that aren’t answered in either series. However, when it came to Rift and Rise by Andrea Cremer I was thoroughly impressed.

The Nightshade prequels take place in the 1400s Scotland and followed a girl named Ember Morrow – a girl who like most in fiction that takes place in this time period – who isn’t too happy with the station that she has to fill and wants to change her fate. She is given that chance because of a debt her father has to pay that dates back to her birth. As the first chapter unfolds, the reader learns that the debt is to a society called Conatus that her childhood friend – Alistair – belongs to and that Ember longs to join as a member of their elusive Guard.

I’ll skip the rest of the summary by saying that despite her father’s wishes and the debt that he needs to pay to these people, he is furious when Ember chooses to become a member of their Guard and causes quite the commotion about it. However, it doesn’t matter, because Ember’s choice has already decided her fate. Alistair is quite excited that she joins their ranks, but for a different reason than she thinks – one that he brings to her attention late one night in her chambers, much to her astonishment.

I have to admit that although I love Ember’s stubbornness, I absolutely hated how daft she was in matters of love. I mean, considering the time period, it’s understandable, but c’mon Ember! Obviously, the boy who you’ve known since you were children who also teased you about marrying you is in love with you. However, I was definitely shocked about the way that he went about confessing his affections. Side note about the whole Alistair and Ember thing – was I the only one who thought that he reminded me of Prince Diamond/Demando from the Sailor Moon series, or have I been reading too much SM fanfiction lately?

Anyway, I’ll admit that for about the first 200 pages or so I was really chugging along with this book, waiting for it to pick up, and when it finally did I read through the rest of it like I was binging on my favorite TV show. I absolutely adored not only the camaraderie between Ember and Barrow, but also the slow way that the two of them fell for each other. Not to mention the penultimate scene where Barrow and Ember kiss in the rain! I was grinning so hard, that I was drawing attention from other people – that’s what I get for reading that scene in a Barnes & Noble.

The only thing that annoyed me about Rift was the interlude scenes that dealt with the sisters Eira and Ciran, at first their scenes didn’t really make any sense since there wasn’t really too much of an introduction to their characters until Ember really became involved with Guard, but as their scenes continued I kind of understood their scenes, especially when Eira’s ultimate goals were revealed.

Now, as for Rise…I guess, it’s a credit to Cremer for writing such great villains that I was literally shaking with anger as I read this book, but after the amazing beginnings that she had in Rift, I think Rise was sort of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, the writing and plot were fantastic because you got to see how the Elemental Cross, the Rift and the Guardians were born. But at the same time…I was just disappointed.

I was expecting more from the wedding than what Cremer delivered. Obviously, when Ember discovered what Alistair was up to in the catacombs and he found out about it, I knew that meant the battle would be changed, but I somehow wasn’t expecting what happened to happen. For one thing, I didn’t understand why Alistair had Ryn attack Ember and take her two fingers. Sure I got the wedding band finger kind of, but why two fingers? And then, the fact that Alistair wasn’t killed, sort of left the book with no real resolution. I’m half expecting Cremer to announce that there is going to be a third prequel considering the original trilogy.

Final rating – Rift: 5 out of 5 stars. The writing and characters in this book were fantastic. Rise: 4 out of 5 stars. Although the writing and characters were fantastic in this book, the ending wasn’t satisfying and doesn’t feel like it’s over.

Bookshelf worthy? Like the original Nightshade trilogy, I’m saying yes. This book series is definitely really good, maybe even better than the original.

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