Monday, August 22, 2011

Slumber-a well written twist on the classic tale

Some spoilers are in this review. You have now been warned and I will not be responsible for any red-face, shock, and/or heart attacks that may occur if you don't like spoilers. 

Slumber is the remake of the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, but with a couple of twists. The heroic "knight" that saves her from her deep sleep and restores her crumbling kingdom-instead of the dashing Prince Charming- is none other than her best friend Rogan. 

The book starts off in a way I didn't expect. Instead of it beginning with her in the present time, it starts off with Rogan telling of her childhood in a nice (but slightly wordy) whimsical prose: 
When I was a child the world smelled of summer.

The heady perfume of the dancing wildflowers would hug my senses every time the breeze rattled their song and took them with it on its journey to soothe my cheeks from the heat of the afternoon sun. The relieving scent of the damp soil when the sun had pushed the sky too far and it wept rain for days on end, before wearily turning the world back over to its golden companion. The refreshing aroma of lemons in the thick air of the house, mixing with my mother’s baking as she prepared our afternoon repast of bitter lemonade and thick warm bread, slathered with creamy butter made cold from the sheltering shade of the larder.

And my father’s pipe.

The sweet odour of tobacco tickling my nose as he held me close and whispered the stories of our Salvation and the mighty Kral who lived in the grandest palace in all the land with his beautiful daughter the Princezna... how kind and gentle they were... the reason my private world was one of innocence and endless summer." 

Then, very quickly, Rogan's childhood, and innocence, really, are shattered when Vikomt Stovia arrives at her house and brutally murders her mother, father, and little brother right in front of her eyes. Why, do you ask? Because she's an Azyl: a person with the magic to seek and find anything anyone desires, and with magic slowly dying out, she's needed at the palace to be the Princezna's Seeker. 

Now, before I continue on, I'll fill you guys in on how this world works: it's run by a group of people called the Dyvatzi (who the Princhezna Hayden is) who pretty much have this super-sweet power to keep things calm and keep people from hating and being cruel. Then there are the Dravilec, who are the healers, and the Glava who are pretty much wizards and can control the elements, have telekinesis, and can control people's minds, and as I said, the Azyls. 

So the King dies and it is left to his 8 year old daughter, Hayden, to rule (they are the only Dyvatzi left), she has Stovia go find one of each of the tribes of people, but due to her weak powers being only a child, Stovia uses some cruel-and very unnecessary- ways to find them all. 

I found Stovia to be a great bad guy in the story. The things he did were truly awful: he murdered, ripped children from their homes, and used Rogan's own powers to find and murder the healer's family. Also he really has a total disregard and carelessness for human life. He broke Rogan's mother's neck ,slit her little brother's throat, then stepped over his body like it was just a log. Oh, and he branded is own freaking son and called him his property, so if that's not a messed-up guy I don't know what is. I also like how Rogan described him: like a snake. I know that that's kind of cliche, but Young really extends it to his whole being; his cloak hisses, his eyes are black, he stalks and slides along the ground, etc. He was bad to the max, essentially. A pretty good villain, in my eyes. 

But, back to the plot line! 

So Stovia brings all of the children with the powers back to the young Princezna, Hayden (who has no idea of what means he used to acquire these children) and Hayden immediately latches onto Rogan to become her family, since she lost what little she already had, and her and Rogan become close friends as they learn palace life. There really isn't much about them growing up except for one part (but that's a bit of a spoiler) and the story jumps ahead to present time where Hayden is 17 and Rogan is 19, and, as Hayden falls under the sleeping ailment, her country is thrown into chaos and only Rogan can find the location of the one flower that can save her life. 

I have never hated-and yet loved- a character as much as I have one feisty little Rogan. I loved her because she's gone through so much horrible shit in her life: her parents and brother dying, and (view spoiler) instead of being oh woe is me my life sucks, she moves on because get this, guys: she knows that there are more important things to do and she has to move on to help her and her country. I'm not saying that she's some unemotional robot, either. She has horrible nightmares every night about that time with Stovia and the Mountain Man, and she can't deal with certain things because they remind her too much of that horrible time in her life. But she puts her own demons behind her for the day and doesn't let it effect her. Now that's a MC that I can get behind and root for in a novel, which is exactly what I did. 

Before I get to what I also didn't like Rogan, I have to talk about one hot piece of man, Wolfe Stovia (whom I also like to call Wolfie and my Wolfe-man ) I love him. Now I know you're probably thinking, Stovia.....hey, isn't this his son?! *gasp* why do you love him I'm sure he's totally evil! And in response to that, I have a question. Who says that just because it's the son of the bad guy that he also has to be rotten to the core? This has become very common in YA these days; the child of the bad guy is evil, bitchy, backstabbing, pretty much the cliche "the apple never falls far from the tree". But Slumber breaks off of this mold which couldn't make me happier. Wolfe is the total opposite of his father. He's Captain of the Guard, has a deep sense of right and wrong, and is virtuous. Don't get me wrong, he's not some angelic good boy; he's badass and he knows it, but it's a different kind of BA than the norm of: 

* guy rides up all in black leather on a black motorcycle and leans against a light-pole: " hey, my name's Malcolm, totally cool bad-boy name right?" *tucks hands into dark-washed jeans in the typical fashion* 
Me: Alright, then...Hey. 
Malcolm: "'I'm going to go be a rebel and do something highly illegal/dangerous, coerce you into coming with me, then, when we're on a total adrenaline high, I'll let you in on some highly deep and personal secret of mine that shows I actually do have feelings." *puts on black sunglasses* "let's go" 
Me: Uhmmm that's alright, I've seen it before *yawn* 
Malcolm: what?! No one has been able to resist the secret soft side that is Malcom! Lets try this again." 
Me: well, if you really want.... you can try. 
Malcolm: *staggers a little bit up to me* " hey, I'm totally drunk and hammered, but it's not because I'm bad; that's all show, it's because I've had really bad stuff happen to me and I think about you all the time so I drink! I love you, Cait! Come away with me!" 
Me: *eyes get huge* "have fun with that" *runs away* 

This is what Wolfe is like: 
*comes up on a horse in his Guard clothes looking all badass with his sword and expertly swings off of his horse and looks at me with those crazy-hot blue eyes* 
Me: Ohhhh boy. 
Wolfe: "I've had bad shit happen in my life, but that's neither here nor there. I'm just going to try and protect you as best as I can, and maybe, once I earn your trust, you can grow to love me as much as I've loved you ever since I first saw you. Maybe then, and only if you want, we can share and help each other through what's happened to both of us. " 
Me: *swoon* 
( I know I probably failed at that, but, seriously, he's amazing) 

You can tell right from the very beginning that Wolfe loves Rogan, even if both of them say snide remarks and push at each other's buttons. He's always right there with her, protecting her, no matter what, and I loved him for it. 
*some spoilers ahead relationship-wise. If you really don't want to know what happens in their relationship, then stop here, although it's pretty obvious the second you first see Wolfe* 

Which is exactly why I hated Rogan. After him only having to save her life about four freaking times, she finally realizes that he loves her and, well, they do the deed ( which was a really good scene). But, guess what she does, folks? She gets up in the morning, sees Wolfe gone, and decides that she's making......get this.... a mistake. If that wasn't stupid enough, she goes and tells Wolfe that and essentially breaks his heart, for really no reason that I felt like was a big deal. Then she still has the balls to make out with him two more times, have sex with him again, listen to Wolfe tell a girl he used to be in a serious relationship with that she loves only her, and STILL deny him. I mean, whhhaaattt?!?! To use an analogy to reiterate my point it was kind of like this photo: 

To set up the scene in case you don't watch baseball, the pitcher throws the ball and hits the hitter in the thigh, and the hitter rushes the mound to go: 
A. Punch the pitcher 
B. Pick up his leg and hop at the pitcher, who does the same in return 
C. Spit in the pitcher's face 
D. A & C 

Well, if any of you are crazy and chose B, you're.... 



Besides the craziness of that; it's pretty much how I felt about Rogan. I thought that they would just go into their relationship easily after being together, but then she does a japanese pitcher and throws me all off-balance. I felt like, after Stovia was gone as the villain, Rogan herself was the villain in this book. She kept on making all the wrong choices and sabotaging herself almost everywhere she went, which was probably why I ticked off the star. 

The only other thing that bothered me in this book was some of the language that Young set up. I felt like it was a mix of slavic and italian, and some of the names were hard to pronounce because of it. 

Besides all that, though, I really liked this book. The journey was really well-written for the most part. There was a lot of action (mostly in the way of kidnapping and other things that put Rogan in danger) and I liked that Rogan could take care of herself. She was tough and the journey made her even tougher, while also making her grow and mature in ways she and I didn't really expect. Really, really horrible things happened to her on her mission to save her friend, and she just kept on going no matter what the cost when, if I was in her shoes, I don't think I'd be able to. 

There was no horribly random cliffhanger at the end of the book, or Wolfe and Rogan separate again; really, it's all tied up an taken care of, so I'm kind of excited to see what new turn Young takes with the next book in this series. Definitely read this book if you haven't already. 

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