Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: Darkest Fear

DARKEST FEAR
Birthright #1
Cate Tiernan
Paranormal Young Adult
368 pages
Simon Pulse
Available January 7th
Source: e-ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Vivi has known the truth about her family—and herself—since she was thirteen. But that doesn’t mean she’s accepted it. Being Haguari isn’t something she feels she’ll ever accept. How can she feel like anything but a freak knowing that it’s in her genes to turn into a jaguar?

Now eighteen, Vivi’s ready to break away from the traditions of her heritage. But all of that changes with the shocking, devastating deaths of her parents and the mysteries left behind. Vivi discovers family she never even knew she had, and a life open with possibility. New friends, new loyalties, and even romance all lay ahead—but so do dangers unlike anything Vivi ever could have imagined.


MY THOUGHTS
Darkest Fear is a tale that begs lovers of paranormal stories to pick it up, promising a closer look at a lesser-known shifter than the werewolves who are so prevalent in supernatural fiction, and while the jaguar-shifter element holds us fascinated throughout, this first installment feels more like a novel-length prequel rather than the opening book in the series. We’re introduced to a variety of different plot threads–not so many as to be frustrating luckily, just enough to give the story a well-rounded feel–but unfortunately not a one of them finds resolution before the end. Whenever we pick up book one of a series, we know not all our questions will be answered by the time we reach the last page, but with Darkest Fear we’re like runners warming up for a big race, working our way up to the starting line fully prepared to make swift progress toward our ultimate destination, but then the gun never even goes off and we’re instead left behind the line wondering what happened.

Vivi is a young woman who can be a challenge at times, her disgust and rather violent aversion to her Haguari (jaguar shifter) heritage something that’s a touch confounding for us as readers. If Vivi had just discovered her ability when we first meet her, her confusion, anger, and fear would be completely understandable, but we come into this story years and years after her parents have–quite unsuccessfully–brought her into the Haguari fold. Trying to come to terms with the fact that you can change bodily forms is certainly not something that everyone would rejoice over upon discovery, so in the beginning we can't help but give her a bit of a break and attempt to give her the benefit of the doubt as we get to know her. There’s many a moment in which it seems as though our faith in her has been appropriately placed, with Vivi starting to realize how childish and hurtful her complete rejection of her heritage had been to her parents and continues to be to those around her, but then as soon as an opportunity to embrace the Haguari in her presents itself, she backs away from it so quickly we practically get whiplash trying to follow.

This pattern repeats again and again over the course of the story, Vivi simultaneously finding comfort in the presence of the Haguari relatives she never knew she had and yet running away from all that they hold dear when they try and share it with her. It’s not to say Vivi is unlikable however, she’s quick to recognize this behavior in herself even though she doesn’t make a huge effort to change it until the end, so our time with her is not time we necessarily regret spending. It’s clear Vivi’s growth and the gradual discovery of who she is both as a human and a jaguar is going to be a prominent aspect of this series as it continues, so hopefully the Vivi of future books will be the fierce and proud young woman we so desperately wanted her to be in this one.

The lack of resolution in terms of Vivi’s acceptance of her heritage, though at times frustrating, is not one of the reasons this book feels so much like a prequel, that honor lies with the remaining unresolved plot threads: the romance with her boss at work, the murder of her parents, the discovery of a couple key family secrets, and the dissolution of her relationship with both her aunt and her human best friend due to the lies she continues to feed them (though her reasons for not telling her best friend about being a jaguar shifter make sense). We’ve made hardly any progress on the above items when we suddenly find ourselves on the last page, a semi-cliffhanger leaving us scratching our heads as to why this particular moment was the moment chosen as a stopping point. Overall Darkest Fear, while entertaining enough, is a touch disappointing in the end when all the promises made go unfulfilled, but perhaps book two will step up to the plate and make good in the way we’d hoped this first one would.

Rating: 3/5


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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

42 comments:

  1. I haven't even seen this one around before

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    1. I stumbled across it for a WoW a little while back and had to snatch it up as soon as it came up on Edelweiss. I had hoped for more from it, but I might still give book two a try:)

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  2. Ah no... ;( I really had high hoped for this book.. I LOVE big cats and I'm always excited when I hear a story about Cat Shifters. I'm sorry that this one isn't more exciting and I hate when it seems like a story is getting nowhere..

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    1. I did too. I love big cat shifter stories, but I had a few issues with this one. If Vivi can accept her Haguari nature in the next book and we get some answers, I think I'll be good to go!

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  3. Oh, that's such a shame! When a novel lacks resolution AND a bit in the development part, there's really no coming back from that, in my opinion. I'd really hoped this one would be good. Thank you for your honest take on it though, Jenny! Great review :)

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    1. There were just SO many things that went unaddressed which was the real problem for me. One or two things? No problem, this is a series after all, but everything was left wide open and we ended up with a very odd cliffhanger of sorts.

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  4. I'm just starting this and I think I'm a little disappointed with the outcome. It has such promise I think. I've heard that Cate's Immortal Beloved series was such a hit that I was really looking forward to reading this one. Hopefully in the end for me it will turn out ok and the sequel rises up to it a little more. Lovely review Jenny.

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    1. It did have a ton of promise and I'm hoping book two will see some of that promise fulfilled, but I was a touch disappointed in this first book :(

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  5. I don't think I'd be happy with Vivi at all and have to repress the desire to smack her upside the head. There's such potential but...darn.

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    1. I just didn't understand Mary. She's had 5 years to come to grips with being a jaguar shifter when we meet her. I get that she wants to be "normal" more than anything, but that's a long time to stick your head in the sand about your family heritage.

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  6. I loved Tiernan's Immortal Beloved Trilogy, but this series seems lacking in something - perhaps narration. Although it has its positives, I won't be picking this one up, simply because I'll inevitably compare it to Tiernan's previous work and wind up disappointed. Thanks for this honest review, Jenny!

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    1. This one definitely wasn't as strong as the Immortal Beloved series, but I'm hoping it will be one of those that gets better as it goes along:)

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  7. Even though this seemed to have some issues, I think I would still be curious enough to pick it up and it sounds like it has promise.

    Wonderful review like always Jenny!! :)

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    1. It wasn't a bad read by any means, so I would definitely say give it a try if you're curious! I just wanted more answers by the time we reached the last page. It felt more like part one of a serial novel rather than a full length book series.

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  8. I think I'd have violent shaking tendencies with this book. o.O

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    1. There may or may not have been a shake or two Amanda. Particularly when she would be on the cusp of accepting who she is and then would turn and run from it again. The ending leads me to believe she'll come around in the next book though:)

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  9. I think this is one where I need to see reviews of book two before jumping in. Most reviews are a solid 3.

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    1. I wouldn't have minded having book two on hand immediately Kim!

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  10. Too much of a push and pull with the story and the lack of resolution means I'll be passing on this one. It's too bad that this one didn't live up to its potential. Great review though, Jenny!

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    1. I had such high hopes for it, and while it wasn't a disaster at all, I just wanted so much more from it.

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  11. I loved one of Cate Tiernan's series and I was looking forward to reading this book but now I'm not. I know Sam was also struggling with it, so I'm sure I won't like it much either. I also don't think I could handle the MC's lack of acceptance of her heritage. That would be really frustrating and if this feels like a prequel, I think I might give it a skip.
    Thanks for the lovely honest review, Jenny.

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    1. It was definitely frustrating, especially given the amount of time she's known about it. I gave her the benefit of the doubt for a while, but she turned her back on that side of her a couple times too many for me.

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  12. I haven't heard too much about this one before, but it definitely sounds pretty interesting! That does sound confusing that she doesn't accept/like her heritage after knowing about it for so long. I think I might give it a try once the sequel comes out. Great review :)

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    1. I'm curious to see if she'll do a lot of growing up in the sequel, so I might give it a try when it comes out. I'm hoping it will be everything this one just never quite managed to be.

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  13. I definitely want some answers for some things before the end of the book, so that's frustrating that it doesn't have them. I don't think that this book would work for me.

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    1. I don't mind an open thread or two in a series, but this was EVERYTHING. Not one thing had any kind of resolution and that made it difficult to really settle into.

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  14. Hmmm, I do want to give this book a try. It does appeal to me. I would want answer but many first books have a lot of foundation building so I think I can forgive it until the I read the sequel. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. I would be interested to see what you thought Savy!

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  15. Huh. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed. I was actually looking forward to this one. I mean, there are jaguars, you know? But I doubt I'd like this girl very muchand her anger seems completely unjustified. Also, I'm surprised that it felt more like a prequel than an actual novel. Overall, I think I'll pass, or I'll just wait for the next one to come out.
    It's good to be back! Happy new year, Jenny!

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    1. I was as well. Jaguar shifters for the win! I just wish Vivi embraced it a bit more so we could too:)

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  16. Happy New Year, Jenny! I am glad to be back. I missed you. I think I am going to pass on this one. I have wanted to try this author, but the unresolved plot lines would drive me crazy.

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    1. It was so quiet in the blogosphere over the holidays, I'm so glad everyone is starting to come back! If you want to try Cate, I would definitely start with her Immortal Beloved trilogy, this series is starting a bit rocky for me.

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  17. Crossing my fingers that the next one gives you the answers that you need :)

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Me too Felicia, me too:) HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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  18. Hi Jenny! I've read one other review for this and they had similar feelings as you. I'm interested, but I think this will be one that I'll wait to see how the 2nd book pans out first. Great review!

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  19. Ouch. This does sound disappointing. I certainly have never read about jaguar shapeshifters before but I've read tons about shapeshifters and that alone makes me already reluctant to read this. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

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  20. I have a feeling I'd want to slap some sense into, Vivi, but other that this sounds like a promising story. Love shape shifter stories! Wonderful review, Jenny! :)

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  21. I liked Cate Tiernan's other series, Immortal Beloved, so I wanted to give it a try, but I saw you were going to review it so I thought I'd let you tell me about it first :) I'm not big into the shifter thing. It sounds like an okay beginning. So many series start like this and then the second one is so much better. It's as if they needed to incubate just a bit longer or something.

    Five years is a long time to come to grips with being a shifter. I'm guessing she's a teenager. Even so... there is only so much you can pass off on teenage angst, right? lol

    Great review Jenny. I loved the way you likened reading this to running a race, but never getting started because the gun didn't go off. Great metaphor!

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  22. Oh no! This sounds very disappointing. I liked Cate's other series so I had high hopes for this one. I do hate unresolved plot threads and abrupt cliffies, and I'm not sure if Vivi and I would get along. I'm hoping the sequel will make up for it. I'll definitely wait and see how the next book is received before starting this series. Thanks for your honest, thoughtful review Jenny!

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  23. "This first installment feels more like a novel-length prequel rather than the opening book in the series." YES. You said it perfectly RIGH THERE. Also, it is an understatement that Vivi can be a challenge. Dear LORD. That girl. You're exactly right, she makes a little progress and then backtracks almost immediately THROUGH THE WHOLE BOOK. grrr. And if she just paid attention and asked questions sooner, she would not be in such a mess of a predicament. And NOTHING is resolved, though that is Tiernan's style, so I wasn't totally surprised. Honestly, the more Vivi resisted being a jaguar, the more awesome it sounded to me. I think I'll still read book 2 to see what happens. I loved Tiernan's Immortal Beloved series and this has to get better, right?

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  24. This would be such a frustrating read for me. I'm already a bit irritated with Vivi just by reading your review. I don't think this one is for me. :(

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  25. I think I would hate this book! LOL. First, I don't like different kind of shifters. Also, I think from what you described the main character would make me nuts. And then the plot threads not being resolved...Oi! Great observations and thoughts.

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