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Thursday, March 7, 2013

“The Indigo Spell” by Richelle Mead (Reviewed by Casey Blair)

Order “The Indigo SpellHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Richelle Mead is the author of several urban fantasy series: the Georgina Kincaid and Dark Swan series for adults, and more famously the YA Vampire Academy series and its spinoff series Bloodlines. The Indigo Spell, published on February 12th, 2013 by Razorbill, is the third Bloodlines book.

I've become much pickier about starting vampire-centric series since the shelves exploded with them, but since I liked a lot of what Richelle Mead did with Dark Swan, I thought I should give this one a shot. If you're new to the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines world: no worries, so am I! This is the first I've read in either series, and I had absolutely no trouble jumping in so late. Mead gives you all the background you need to know for this book to make sense on its own, which is no mean feat given that I've missed about eight books of backstory. It might seem a little repetitive to a long-time reader, but the author doesn't dwell on any past events that aren't relevant to the story at hand.

In the spirit of honesty, I have to say that while there were a number of things that annoyed me in The Indigo Spell, I was also physically unable to put the book down before I finished it at 3AM. Let's start with the things that irritated me:

First, I hate love triangles. Yes, I know that's a matter of personal taste, but I will let you know if I ever read a love triangle that doesn't immediately piss me off. It doesn't matter how much I like the characters. Love triangles are a trope that almost always (there may be exceptions to this, but I can't think of any) read to me as overly blatant plot devices, and I think I should have to work harder to figure out how the book is playing with me. Happily, in this instance, the love triangle is relegated to supporting characters, and mostly serves to make the protagonist's social life more dramatic.

Back to the point: mostly the protagonist, Sydney, was sensible about all the high school drama around her, except for her mind-boggling powers of denial in her own romantic interest. Seriously, mind-boggling to the point of unbelievable for an otherwise intelligent character. She does seem to accept life-changing conspiracies with scanty evidence, but in fairness she does question and take risks to acquire evidence at all, so I can let that slide. There are also a lot of instances of “you don't need to know this yet/all in good time” which Sydney accepts mostly without complaint that annoyed me; in terms of pacing, exposition and plot, I understand what Mead is doing, but I wish she'd used a different method. I also quibble that there is no humanly way possible that Sydney could get everything she does done in the time allotted to her.

She does, however, deal with a lot of different problems with high personal stakes, and the tension and challenges were high and believable. Also, Sydney approaches them logically yet with emotional motivation, which is a winning combination: a character who is passionate and really smart, with that intelligence being central to her personal identity. I always love to see that.

Again, I'm new to the series, but overall while the takes on vampires and magic weren't particularly innovative, everything worked together really well. There were a couple of twists on familiar tropes, but mostly the magic systems and world-building are just plain well-executed.

As for the romance, I absolutely love how it was handled. These are two characters who do not just lust after each other; they care about each other deeply as friends. They are intelligent enough to recognize the problems their relationship faces socially, and to prioritize when it's appropriate to pursue romance and when other things are far more important. (Seriously, it drives me crazy when the world is ending and characters decide to heck with it, go off and do their thing, and the plot just waits for them.) The biggest reason I love the romance is that the characters respect each other, and while there is some seduction and tempting that goes on, ultimately they respect each other's boundaries. This is one of those worlds where some vampires have coercive power, and I appreciate how Mead kept that from being a factor between them. They each had different strengths and areas of expertise, and neither overshadowed the other. These interactions are so well-written that this aspect was probably my favorite in the whole book.

In short, while I'm not sure I want to go back and read all the books that came before, I definitely had a great time reading this one.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Starting with book 3 of the Bloodline Series means that you can't properly perceive the amount of growth that's brought Sydney to where she is in Indigo spell.

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