Disclaimer: This review is ranty. It may also be mildly spoily. And, like many other reviews of books that weren’t exactly for me, my tongue was firmly in my cheek as I wrote it - well, parts of it. / disclaimer
This paranormal romance definitely belongs to that category of “older teen” Young Adult books that’s become prevalent recently. But what, exactly, did I think of Faegen’s new series opener?
Thanks are due to Egmont USA and to NetGalley for allowing me to pre-read this title.
Like so many books I’m not crazy about, it has a lovely cover :/
Tite: The Mephisto Covenant
Series: The Mephisto Covenant Series (Book #1)
Author: Trinity Faegen
Publication Date: 27 September 2011
Publishing House: Egmont USA
Alright, so. Here’s a disclaimer: this review contains a rant about technical elements of the book, including characterization, info-dumping and plot points. The book, however, does have an audience. I tend to be much more critically-minded than a lot of readers and, in fact, a lot of reviewers. I’m sure many people will read this book and love it. It contains certain elements of successful teen romance fiction and I’m certain that my opinion will be no means be a general one. I, personally, did not think this book was for me. I have control problems, and so I expounded upon this “not-for-me-ness” in this review. Note, though, that I think a lot of other bloggers and readers would probably enjoy it.
Let us begin.
This new paranormal romance series is about Sasha, daughter of a Russian spy, who happens to be some kind of “living angel” or “angel on earth” - known, in the book, as an “Anabo.” This means she can’t sin - can’t think bad thoughts - and has a one-way ticket to Heaven. Kind of like a Get out of Jail Free card in Monopoly (man, I love Monopoly). Unfortunately, a dark angel named Eryx (who is more evil than Satan - I’ll just put a couple of ???s in there for you to express my general confusion over this “plot point”) would kill her if he found out about her existence. Because… he’s evil. A houseful of immortal teenage demon-slaying “hottie” badasses discover Sasha and one of them, named Jax, takes a romantic interest in her for reasons more complicated than they may initially appear - and the plot, mostly centered about this romance - takes off from there.
The plot of this novel was really my major problem. As much as I love characterization, give me a good solid plot and I can even turn a blind eye on a Mary Sue (just as long as she isn’t the main character - but I’ve expressed my hatred for Mary Sues enough on this blog and I’ll do it again in this post. Surprise!). Sadly, the plot of this book is sort of meandering and indistinct. There’s meant to be a sense of urgency - uh, evil creeps are hunting our chick! - but I never actually managed to get that out of the writing. It was sort of lacking in the tension department. Also, Faegen seems to feel the need to put one I’VE BEEN LIED TO MY WHOLE LIFE moment in every single chapter. I don’t think there was a single plot point in this book that wasn’t later revealed to be - GASP! - a lie. It was just too much. Too convoluted. Too confusing. Not engaging enough - when you know the information the author’s giving you is a lie, you just stop listening. Or, I did, anyway.
And as for the series thing - the story leaves questions, but the ending is abrupt and lacks dramatic tension. Did I mention the ending was abrupt? Just in case I didn’t, yes, the ending is abrupt. As in, jarring. As in, what the heck, there has to be like an epilogue or something. Oh wait, no, there isn’t. Which was weird, because the build-up was so overly extensive.
Oh - and I have to mention this because it appears that everyone has an opinion on this - I’ve heard some people say they read the book solely just to get to it. By that, of course, I mean the sex scene. Yes, the sex scene - not the “love” scene or the “tastefully fade to black” scene or even the “use your own dirty imagination” scene. The sex scene.
It was no problemo for me. I mean, whatever. It wasn’t tastelessly graphic. The whole sub-plot that accompanies this, ostensibly based in “Biblical lore,” however, was a problemo. It was a big problemo. Because, to me, it came across as very awkward and forced. Uncomfortably so. I understand we’re ratcheting up the sexual tension here, but it is a young adult series - that element seemed to belong more in paranormal section of the Harlequin romance genre, if you catch my drift.
Side note: I don’t think telling you about the sexytime counts as a spoiler, because it seems to be well-known that the book contains one. Sorry if I’ve accidentally ruined your life.
So. That’s over and done with and we can move on. I shall attempt to control my use of Caps Lock and punctuation throughout the remainder of this review.
Another issue I took with this novel was the character development. Sasha Annenkova - the female protagonist of the book - is an “Anabo.” This, as I mentioned before, makes it impossible for her to sin. She’s constantly described as “beautiful,” “perfect,” and “angelic.” While this does, thankfully, have repercussions in the plot, it essentially boils down to the fact that she’s a Mary Sue - someone the author is trying to get us to like so desperately that the result of her “perfection” is the reverse of what was intended - she’s too perfect to be interesting. I couldn’t even find it in myself to hate her, as I do Mary Sues, because she was of that little interest. And her love interest, Jax, is the male equivalent of this. The author is just trying too hard to make them perfect. And, quite frankly, it’s annoying.
But. There’s no love triangle. MAJOR props to Faegen for that. She’s managed to create some romantic tension without the unnecessary third party and this, for me, was a high point. Love triangles make me hurt inside - I find them to be lazy writing. That’s a personal opinion, but there you go.
On another positive note, I loved the interaction between the side characters. The Mephisto brothers, as well as nerdy Lumina Brody, were interesting and had some interesting inter-character dynamics going on. It really was just the leads that I had problems with.
Another positive thing - some of the dialogue was actually quite funny. A lot of the early “dialogue” is really just info-dumping disguised as dialogue, but later in the novel, there are some really funny lines.
One more thing - Eryx, the baddie, is supposedly more evil than Satan. In fact, according to this book, God and the Devil are, like, buddies who work together to stop Eryx from taking over the galaxy. (I’ll just add some more of these: ??????????)
Seriously, what’s up with that? If your mythology is based on the Bible, the last thing you should do is screw around with the Bible! What? Is the DEVIL not evil enough to be the bad guy?
HE’S THE PERSONIFICATION OF EVIL!!! HOW CAN HE NOT BE EVIL ENOUGH??
Okay. I’m really done now.
The writing, too, had issues. (INFO-DUMPING! *bangs head on table*) The love story had some extremely cheesy moments - I like some cheese, but it became overly distracting and I was reminded of Twilight. That level of cheese. Not to hate on Twilight (there really isn’t room in this overly-long review for me to start in on Twilight).
However. Despite the overly confusing double-backs and “revelations” of the plot, the book had a consistent pace. I read it very fast, and admit that a lot of the things I’m now mentioning bothered me while I was reading but did not actually stop me from reading or finishing the book. Sure, they were distracting, but something about the book made me want to keep reading it - I put this down to pace. I also finished this book very quickly.
Overall, I think this is fine escapist fiction, if you’re willing to turn a blind eye to the technical aspects I mentioned above and just “go with it.” This is why I think the book will find an audience. I am not a part of this audience. I’m a teenager - certainly. But I am not willing to turn a blind eye. Mary Sues, in particular very blatantly obvious ones, are a pet peeve of mine - and I found the protagonist to fall into this category. However - escapist fiction does serve a purpose. This isn’t Lolita. It’s just a diversion - a couple hours’ worth of entertainment. And for that I found it effective (despite the screaming of my inner editor).
Premise & Originality: 0.5 Stars
Plot: 0 Stars
Characters: 0.5 Stars
Writing: 0.5 Stars
Enjoyability: 0.5 Stars
Total: 2 / 5 Stars