Before I get into my review, I realise that this has been a long time coming, and I am very sorry that this has been the case – I have had some university commitments that originally kept me from divulging my opinions on The Indigo Spell, and then I had slight trouble getting my head around reviewing a book.
My Mother Dearest (I will only refer to my Mum as this within this review, which I am sure she will love me for – NO. WIRE. HANGERS!!!!) writes such exquisite reviews, as does her blog partner, Cindi. When you have never reviewed before, it is a rather daunting task to have even by itself, but having a high standard to live up to when you are a perfectionist is positively frightening!…and then I realised that my reviews will probably just ramble psychotically, which is exactly how I communicate in everyday life.So here I am, trying to do what Mother Dearest does so very well. Again, thank you for waiting this long for my review of The Indigo Spell, and I hope that the psychotic ramble I produce is eloquent enough to explain my viewpoints.
I have long been a reader of the series, and had read all of the Vampire Academy novels, so the year-long wait to see The Indigo Spell come out was agonising. Then, when I knew of its release date, it was much anticipated. (I was, literally, counting the days.)Then…it came out – dun dun DUN! But even then, I had to wait a few more days for a hardcover copy to arrive, as my Mother Dearest had ordered it on her beloved Kevin – and if she has not told you her Kindle’s name by now…well, you now know.
(Aside: Every time I hear that name, I instantly think of Kevin the Mailman from Just Shoot Me!)
(Aside II: My Mother Dearest would have rather resort to cannibalism or sent me as a tribute to the 75th Annual Hunger Games than give up Kevin for me to read this book. Seriously, I would loathe if anything happened to Kevin other than old age…)
But I waited, and as soon as I saw the indigo cover with Sydney on it I pounced and started ravaging the book to pieces – the word “reading” would’ve been a euphemism. And, as soon as it came, it was finished…and then I cried.
All that is left is to review. Now, when I review, I often invent the reviewing game I play called:
A Novel:What’s Hot, What’s Not & Who Wants to Make D Hate Them and Hit Them over the Head with a Frying Pan.
(But use the acronym WHWNWWTMDHTHTOTHFP – it just rolls off the tongue more easily, I think.)
So let us begin:What’s Not So Hot:
1. The Ending:
Richelle Mead has a huge tendency to give us, as readers, some nice twists at the end of her books, just to throw us off the trail of anything we might preconceive when we’re given the initial information. I like it when authors do this, as I never like to know what will happen when I am absorbed into a book.However, what I find with some of Richelle Mead’s books is that these plot twists can lead to another predicament, which I like to call “The Predictable Twist”.What I mean by this is that – as I have read quite a few of her books – her formula for how a book is going to end can get quite predictable. This might, however, be my viewpoint only, as others may be pleasantly surprised by what is to come.But when I read this book, my reaction at the ending was basically summed up by this:
2. The overall predictability:
This might sound like a slight nit-pick, as we humans can often guess what is going to happen within a Young Adult book (it is like we are wired to sniff out the best possible ending, and then naturally draw our conclusions that this is what will happen within a YA series.)But the slight problem I had with TIS is that nothing
stood out as something I couldn’t have guessed. It followed along a path like a pre-programmed electronic device, doing – by and large – exactly what it should.Should this be a major issue with the book? Of course not. As I stated in the beginning of this sub-section, a YA book – to my way of thinking – will always have a certain predictability to it, and what TIS has lost in originality it makes up for in quality of writing and technical precision. Besides, very rarely do Young Adult books surprise me. (I have only read one that did, but I cannot think of the book for the life of me…)However, for something to truly make its mark, I prefer it to have a splice of je ne sais quoi – something completely different to a viewpoint I went in with, if you will.
3. Repetition of old storylines:
Again, this is nothing new when it comes to a Richelle Mead book. I went through Vampire Academy having re-learnt about spirit, which is certain type of magic a mortal vampire can wield, over.…and over.…and over.…and over. (About…1257 times? It seems like much more, trust me.)Of course I kid about the number and the severity, but when you have read the series, and the series the spin-off came from, it gets rather tedious when things are being re-explained.
This is not entirely a bad thing, however. If you are a new reader, it actually is quite a nice thing to have, and the reason why I think I am not as annoyed as I am is because the repetition is done well.
Why is it done well? Two reasons:
1. The depth: As I talked about at the end of the paragraph before last. This is important, as you should look at it from this way. If you are going to assume your audience are so devoted to your book they have inhaled the previous book in the series for breakfast every single day from release date to next release date, they will know the content of the series like they know how to breathe. (Which they do, as they just inhaled the book when eating their regular meals).
If this is the case, then give them no dated information.
Alternatively, if you are assuming that your reader has not read a book since it came out, or that you might have a big influx of new readers, give them some old information.
So, if you are going to do the alternative? Do it right, which brings me to:2: Give them enough information to feel like they have read the previous books, but not too much as to bog down the whole series.Richelle Mead does this last point well enough; I cannot complain too much. But I have put it as a slight criticism, just because I feel it can make your reading experience slightly less enjoyable when you just really want to get to the juicy end of the book.
Who Wants To Make D Hate Them and Hit Them Over The Head with a Frying Pan?
Truly, I think this man is the sole reason I developed this sub-section’s title; hence, I will now commemorate that honour with:
Seriously – he is the only character in this book I could go on a rant about, or just say “ugh”, and I would get the point across in either fashion.
He is a ladies’ man (and he comes armed with winks, knee-buckling croons, guitars and
his flirting-at-every-girl-who-might-have-a-pulse attitude). But hey, he’s also got mystery around him – he is that mysterious, Sydney guesses everything he is about in about five seconds.Then, he gives her vital information and plans to smuggle her away! (This point in the book would probably contain heavy drinking and STI’s. But hey, it’s Marcus – he could smile
away that STI for you!)But if you couldn’t feel my dislike radiating through that last paragraph – which may or may not irrational – I will try to explain why I dislike him:He has nothing going for him. From having henchmen that fight his initial battle; to his grand ideas (which suck so hard-core that when they try to act upon getting to those ideas, it would take roughly a million years to achieve what they wanted); to having no dialogue that doesn’t
involve being smarmy; to being gutless and overly infuriating; to almost stopping something from happening that I would have personally killed him for, he just……ugh.
(P.S: See what I did there?)
(Disclaimer: He did what he needed to do in the book, I guess…but I still do not like his character. I feel he was the least three-dimensional character within the story.)
It’s not like she plays any big part of the bloody book – but when she does, she just has to make me want to stab her in the eye with a fork.
She just annoys me. The end.
(Disclaimer: I am aware that I have neither evidence, nor justification for my said feelings above. I could have gone into that she has no faith in Sydney; she is the epitome of a mindless drone and has quite possibly thrown herself into my hate list for actions I cannot discuss. (It will give away a crucial point in the book.)
…but I just like my hatred to be succinct sometimes, you know?
Who is Actually Worthy of Not Assaulting?
Sydney, Sydney, Sydney – you are named after my city, and you are truly unique…in such an austere way.
She surprises me sometimes; the way Richelle Mead writes her, you would think that you’d rather watch paint dry, or even…watch a golf tournament (shudders) than read about her life. But she can be very funny, in a dry sort of way, and she is a good member of Team Sadrian (Sydney and Adrian, naturally) – they work well, which is what I want for Adrian.
Sydney is also quite strong – I think this is aided by her ability to be incredibly stubborn and strong willed. She is no Rose, but she holds her own.
Overall, Sydney keeps adding a few layers every time I read her, which I do very much like. She makes the story good, if not a little too pedestrian at times. Now, when I said that she is not entirely boring, I was stating the truth. However, the only criticism I have with Sydney is that she can sometimes be summed up by a segment from SpongeBob:
“When your friends describe you, do they use words like “dull” and “drab”?”
“Don’t forget platitudinous!”
I am sorry Sydney, I do quite like you, with your regimented ways and beige ensembles, but you do have a tendency to have boring viewpoints.
But, in a way, this is not an entirely negative criticism. I personally think it has to do with the way Sydney views life; this makes her character more believable – boring is very much who she is and what she was moulded to be, and as much as I think it detracts slightly from one aspect of the book, I will relent and say that it makes up or it within the character development side of the book.
I also think this is why I made the statement that she is not boring – by being boring, she is a unique character and is, therefore, not boring?
(Disclaimer: I know, that last statement was positively brain-frying:
(I hope you get what I meant.)
Oh Adrian, I could spend all night (actually, it is 5 past 4 in the morning, so that is probably a lie) prattling on about how incredible you are and how you make the story much, much better.But I won’t, as I think this review is getting very long.I like Adrian for his humour, his sarcasm, his incredibly liberal style, his ability to make anyone feel wonderful or creeped out, his artistic flair and his good-hearted nature.But most importantly – I like him because he has made Sydney a much better person. And even though I didn’t say it within the “Sydney” domain, I like that she has given him personal growth as well. This aspect of the character interactions is what I enjoy most – they feed off of each other, as a good pairing should, and it makes the undercurrent of the story have a tangible aspect that everyone can relate to.To keep these sub-sections less verbose – the long story short answer is: I like Adrian for pretty much everything.
3. Mrs. Terwilliger:
Oh yes, the resident crazy cat lady that The Simpsons could be proud of, Mrs. Terwilliger becomes very much a central character within TIS, and even though I very much did not have an opinion of her in the first two books, she has grown on me.She is whimsical, but very aware of everything around her and what is needed to make Sydney do her job properly. She has a great ability to make me cringe whenever she comes up with a vague explanation, or an unusual order that catches Sydney off guard. But I also know that there is a logical explanation for her actions, no matter how much I cringe at the time.(P.S: Does anyone else picture her as Joan Cusack in a house full of boxes that explode cats and herbs?)
“Oh, Angeline…”This basically sums up everything Angeline Dawes ever does.
Ever.She infuriates me to no end; then she makes up for it by giving us the best entertainment within the series – from knocking out men with stereo equipment to perplexingly hilarious piñatas, she is not content on being the wallflower of the book.I like that – it is why she is one of my favourite characters.Non-entities:
Oh Eddie, you’re a good guy, from Vampire Academy to Indigo Spell, that never changes. You have some rough patches in this book, and you handled them with dignity and class. You always are on the job, and you are very good at it. You are pleasant to pretty much everyone you see. And you never, ever complain.
But that has always been you – and, whilst I like you, you never change. I guess that is a good thing, but…I think this sub-section suits him, as it also does for:
Jill – the girl that, ultimately, keeps this series running; without her, there would have been no happy ending for Vampire Academy, and there be no Bloodlines. So how is it that she is a non-entity?She seemed to be downgraded to secondary character status completely in this book, in my opinion. She was always on the precipice, but always had something going on that warranted our attention to her in the first two books.But, in The Indigo Spell, she didn’t have much of a role to play – her storyline was set-up from the previous book, and almost touched in with Sydney just to make sure she hadn’t, you know, died an unknown death.(Disclaimer: If ever Eddie and Jill were to eventually happen as a couple, it would be fitting – nice, but uninteresting people that adore each other and eventually go to live in a cottage, where they have many Dhampir children. Jill sits there knitting, while Eddie sits on a rocking chair and watches Jill endlessly, making sure she is never harmed.
Let us hope that is never a plot twist that Richelle Mead throws in, and we get stuck with that scenario for a long time, because I just might yawn myself into oblivion.)
1. Pies n’ Stuff:
This was my favourite, if not random, plot in the book. Yes, I am being perfectly earnest – when Adrian announced that Sydney, Mrs. Terwilliger and him were going to an pie shop, and Sydney basically said:“It’s called Pies N’ Stuff? I’m more worried about the ‘Stuff’ part”I lost it. I don’t know why, but that was a golden name for a pie shop, in my opinion.
2. The Piñata:
I am purposely not giving away what this scenario is, why it came about, nor the reasoning behind it, but it made me laugh up a storm.
I had also heard Mother Dearest laugh incessantly at part of the book, and I wondered what it was. Because she read it ahead of me, I also thought to myself that, when I got to that part, would I agree with her and laugh a lot?
It was The Piñata.
(Disclaimer: Mother Dearest and I are very alike – we are both quite insane, so it was only natural that we both laugh a lot at this juncture of the book. You may not find it as funny, as you may be saner than us. Shhhh – don’t tell the voices in my head that I said that!)
3. Overall direction of book and content:
The last book within the series (The Golden Lily) left me feeling slightly blasé about where the series was being directed – I knew, by and large, that it would focus on Sydney and her growing ability to perform magic, but I also had a strong feeling that it was, yet again, going to largely focus on her incredibly stubborn nature and her internal struggle to do what is right by her people.(Which I will never get – it’s not like The Borg
The Alchemist’s have given her anything in return, except for a regimented lifestyle and a life of beige, because we know how exciting beige can be!)But the book surprised me in the sense that, whilst it had that train of thought, it wasn’t as exaggerated as I initially thought it would be. Instead, it focused upon bringing the series into new, exciting – if not a little infuriating at times – territories.The content also largely follows my viewpoint of the direction. I thought that it would get too heavily bogged down by Sydney’s inability to be able to actually think for herself and not be a snark whenever something new is thrown her way
be able to let go and do what is best for herself, not for ‘the collective’.
But, again, whilst is it very much evident that Sydney has this viewpoint, she also has the ability to look past this, which makes for a slightly faster reading experience and a better paced series.
4. Character development (by and large):
Mostly the characters within The Indigo Spell do Richelle Mead’s bidding – they serve a purpose (or sometimes, non-purpose) very well, and they fit within the story. (Trust me, nothing irks me more than – what I feel – are misplaced characters within a story.)The characters have their quirks, their points of view, their dysfunctions, their good and bad sides, and are – above all – human. (Well – metaphorically speaking, of course – some actually aren’t
human, but we still put some of the human archetype onto them. I mean, what is worse than a vampiric Mary Sue/Gary Stu?)
The funny thing is that, when I look back upon this review, it sounds like I have a lot of gripes with the story. I actually don’t – I think it is the best book in the series by quite a way; it serves as nice vessel to see the metamorphosis that will take place from the first word of the series until the very last word. It has some very funny moments, has a lot of charms and is quite well written.I would highly recommend Vampire Academy to anyone that I think would remotely enjoy the genre – and whilst I do not have as high an opinion of the Bloodlines series, the books are slowly but surely making their mark in the Young Adult genre.
So, for this, I would rate it four stars.
(Or, as I would put it, one hit over the head with a frying pan.)