May 13, 2011

Something Deadly This Way Comes: In A Nutshell

Goodreads' description:
I'm Madison Avery, in charge of heaven's hit squad . . . and fighting it all the way.

When Madison died the night of her prom, she knew her life would never be the same. Now she has a powerful amulet, a team of rogue angels by her side, and the ability to flash forward into the future to see the shape of destiny. And of course, now she's finally with Josh—a perfect boyfriend who doesn't even mind that she's dead.

But being dead has its disadvantages, too. Madison feels caught between the light and the dark, and between her real life and her timekeeper status. When Madison has the opportunity to get her body back—to be alive again—she faces her most difficult decision yet. If she claims it, she could return to being a normal girl—and have a chance at a real relationship with Josh. But would having the one thing she wants most in the world also mean giving up everything she's worked so hard for?
Something Deadly This Way Comes by Kim Harrison

If you'd like to see my review of the first two in this series, go here. There may be some spoilers here for the previous novels if you have not yet read them.

One sentence sum-up: reapers and black wings and seraphs, oh my!

My reaction: I found this final book in the Madison Avery series to be quite entertaining for most of the way through. The intricate celestial system of seraphs, guardian angels, reapers and the like has really been solidified by this point, and I appreciated the amount of thought that went into creating such a system of roles. We're also able to see Madison having truly grown into her title of dark timekeeper, as compared to the more uncertain Madison we saw in book 1, who was still getting used to being, well, dead. Although it seems remarkably easy for Madison to discover how to wield her dark timekeeper powers (spoiler, highlight to read: she changes someone's resonance, finds her human body, and stops time all in a single day, without any instruction), it was still awfully fun to watch her do it.

However, I was disappointed by the ending of this one – it just seemed really easy for Madison to get everything she wanted, and thus very anti-climactic. There's a lot of build-up: will Madison be forced to give up the amulet and the job of dark timekeeper if she wants to keep her human body? Will she be able to save Tammy, a girl whose soul seems doomed to die? And can Madison convince the seraphs to give her method a chance? But the follow-through just wasn't there in the same tension-building, exciting way. Instead, the obstacles Madison was originally presented with turn out to not really be obstacles at all. There isn't a specific villain in this one, as much as a more general uncertainty of Madison's future, and it gets resolved without much work on her part. I don't mind happy endings, but I like the characters to have to risk more in order to get there.

Also, I had some difficulty understanding how Madison's intervention with Tammy was supposed to work. Spoilery bit: if Madison and Tammy exchange a bit of soul in the future, how does that give Madison a claim on Tammy in the present? That future won't come to pass anyway (or so it seems, because Tammy looks like she's going to change) does that work?

In terms of characters, as always Madison's distinctive voice rang through the writing, and both Barnabas and Nakita were charming. I do wish we had seen a bit more of Grace in this one; her character was such a fun one in the previous novel, but this time she seemed a bit more subdued, her limericks not as humorous and altogether she just wasn't in the storyline as much. I was glad to see Paul make an appearance, as Madison must rely on him at one point and there was a nice balance in bringing the dark timekeeper and the light timekeeper-to-be to work together.

Best aspect: I enjoyed the set-up of dark versus light reapers, and the philosophical implications of each side's perspective. Harrison makes it clear that both of them compromise something important to attain their end goal – the light reapers put the soul in jeopardy to save the body, and the dark reapers sacrifice the body to ensure the life of the soul. Madison wants to go beyond this black-and-white thinking, to see the bigger picture and do her utmost to save both. 

If I could change something... Besides upping the ante on the climactic scenes, her romance with Josh just wasn't there for me. I hadn't felt it in the first two books, and I wasn't feeling the chemistry in this one either. I was actually cheering for her to get together with a different character, but sadly that didn't happen. I think part of the problem wasn't just their relationship, but the fact that Josh comes off as a very flat, boring character (and he really isn't integral to the storyline in this book at all).

Also, we do get a few glimpses of Tammy's story through Madison's abilities, but I wanted more – why she was so determined to run away, and what had caused her apparent depression – to flesh her out and move her from stereotype to full-fledged character.

And this is a nitpicky thing, but I did think the book could have stood being copyedited/proofread one more time, as there were a few errors or inconsistencies that I picked up on. (For instance, Josh is referred to once as "the dark timekeeper's girlfriend" when we know he is of the male persuasion.)

Read if you liked: the Mediator series by Meg Cabot, The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade


"She doesn't understand about human choice and the fragility of your dreams and the strength that lies in your hopes and faith. Angels see everything in black and white, and the earth was made to be colorful. Think about what you're asking her to do. She is all about the soul, Madison. Life is secondary to her. Life is transient, and you're asking her to risk someone's soul for an extension of something that to her is a blink of an eye."

"But all we have is that blink," I said miserably.

Final verdict: 3 shooting stars. I was wavering between 3 and 3.5 stars, but I took the half off because it is the last in the series (as far as I know) and I was expecting something a bit more epic.

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Disclaimer: I received this for review from the publisher.

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