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Thursday, May 31, 2012

'Obsidian' Lux #1 by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  
From the BLURB:


Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.
And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.
If I don't kill him first, that is.



Katy and her mum are looking for a fresh start; they need to finally get on with their lives, three years after Katy’s father suddenly died of cancer.  So they’ve packed up and moved from sunny Florida to a small-town in West Virginia.


Maybe a fresh start should also mean a feistier, more outgoing Katy too. She’s a proud and geeky bibliophile, obsessed with her book review blog, and the highlight of her week is often getting a latest release in her letterbox. So when Katy’s mum spies their next door neighbours, a brother and sister about her age, Katy sucks up her courage and goes to make nice . . .  but what she finds is a surly, shirtless smart-arse.


Daemon is God-like in his beauty; unforgettable green eyes and a body worthy of Calvin Klein underwear ads. But he’s also unfathomably rude – taking an instant and cutting dislike to Katy that she cannot comprehend. Daemon’s sister, Dee, is another story entirely. She’s just as beautiful as her twin, with the same green eyes and willowy, model-like frame. But Dee is decidedly sweeter; she’s obsessed with ice-cream and eager to make a good impression on her new next-door-neighbour, even going so far as helping Katy with her passion for gardening. Katy and Dee strike up an instant friendship, in spite of her brother’s vehement objections; not to mention all of Dee and Daemon’s equally gorgeous friends who seem to have a bone to pick with Katy.


Then strange things start happening in this small, sleepy West Virginia town . . .  Katy notices that some of the residents treat Dee and her friends with outright hostility or fear. The town has a reputation for missing girls, presumed dead. Dee and Daemon’s friends speak odd, cryptic things about sun and light; particularly Daemon’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, Ash, who vows vengeance on Katy after a spaghetti incident. And then there’s the night that Katy is attacked by a man who is looking for “them”. . .  luckily, Daemon is there in the nick of time to save her; but even that is an odd moment that Katy isn’t quite able to remember, save for the fact that Daemon wasn’t there one second but appeared the next.


Then there’s the inexplicable fact that while Katy loathes Daemon and his mean streak, she’s also inexplicably drawn to him . . . and sometimes, when he’s not being a total jerk, Katy thinks Daemon feels the same way.


‘Obsidian’ is the first book in a new paranormal YA series called ‘Lux’, by Jennifer L. Armentrout.


I bought this book on a whim – having seen the impressive blogosphere tour campaign and being suckered in by a scruffy boy with green eyes on the cover. I thought I'd read the first couple of pages, see if it would be my cup of tea . . . Fast forward to two hours later and I'd read nearly half the book. Armentrout suckered me in from page one and I remained enthralled throughout. Though I must admit, Ms Armentrout used a particularly clever ploy to initially drag me in – and that was mentioning Katy being a book blogger on page one. Yes, I’ll admit it; I got a tiny thrill at reading a female heroine who I shared a book review blogging obsession with. Well played, Armentrout, well played. I suspect Katy being a blogger was a bit of a suck-up (because she’s also very cool and self-deprecating about her book obsession – as many review bloggers tend to be) but I liked how authentic Katy’s blogging was – she even mentions her “Waiting on Wednesday” post!


Like attracts like aside, one of the things I really appreciated about ‘Obsidian’ was that Katy is a ballsy female protagonist. I was beyond thrilled to read that the heroine in Armentrout’s series was not cut from the all-too-prevalent ‘Mary-Sue, damsel in distress’ cloth *cough* Bella! *cough*. As a reader and feminist I am drawn to characters like Rose Hathaway and Claire Danvers – feisty females who have their flaws, insecurities and limitations, but whose inherent fight and loyalty is something young readers can aspire to. Readers are given a glimpse of Katy’s ballsy attitude early on, when she’s confronted by a shirtless and rude Daemon. The all-important first meeting of the series HEA couple is a doozy – with Daemon being ludicrously mean and making the worst first impression possible. But what I liked was that Katy didn’t take it lying down – sure she got a tear in her eye afterwards (honestly, his out-of-the-blue rude tirade warranted a little sniffle) but she puts on armour and flings some verbal abuse his way too. And from there on in, she is wary of Daemon and constantly fluctuating between loathing and lusting after him.


There were countless incidences of Katy standing up for herself – putting a brave face on and spouting out some warrior-woman diatribe. I loved it! She did it again and again, sometimes as a cover-up for hurt feelings, but most of the time because she won’t take insults lying down. She called Daemon’s nasty ex-girlfriend, Ash, out on her bitchiness (and made her pay for it in spaghetti). But more importantly, when Dee and Daemon’s true natures are revealed and the bad guys start closing in, Katy still didn’t shy away. She’s not a wallflower to run and hide when people tell her to – she’s more likely to come out swinging and I loved that. Girls got guts, and she’s an admirable protagonist with attitude to spare!


This is a paranormal YA, so Armentrout did occasionally fall into cliché when revealing the species-focus. But, because Katy is a bookish geek, it also gave Armentrout some leeway to play around with those clichés and offer some tongue-in-cheek reveals. I really appreciated this because anyone who reads as much paranormal YA as us review bloggers (and by association, Katy!) would know what questions to ask;

Frustration whipped through me. “You say you’re not human, and that limits the pool of what you can be! You stopped a truck without touching it.”
“You read too much.” Daemon exhaled slowly. “We’re not werewolves or witches. Zombies or whatever.”
“Well, I’m glad about the zombie thing. I like to think what’s left of my brains are safe,” I muttered. “And I don’t read too much. There’s no such thing as that. But there’s no such thing as aliens either.”
Daemon leaned forward quickly, placing his hands on my bent knee. I froze at his touch, my senses ran hot and cold at once. His stare penetrated me, locked me onto him. “In this vast, never-ending universe, do you think Earth – this place – is the only planet with life?”


Honestly, the few clichés that Armentrout falls into were not ‘deal-breakers’. Sure, there’s a Twilight-esque incident involving a careening truck, and the friends who despise Katy felt very Rosalie-like in their ‘you are not one of us’ hatred. But I was willing to forgive these few missteps when the book was so darn entertaining.


As the blurb reveals, the ‘Lux’ series is an Alien-centric one. I haven’t really read much Alien-YA (I am a big fan of Gini Koch’s ‘Kitty Katt’ series though!) so I really liked the change-up . . .  especially because the Lux aliens are very much Armentrout’s creation. There’s no X-files, ET rip-off going on here. They are an interesting, powerful alien race and I enjoyed Katy discovering more and more about them – and their genesis leaves plenty of room for further world-building.


Now, to the really important part of ‘Obsidian’ – the hero and series romance. The durability of ‘Lux’ pretty much rests on Daemon’s shoulders and his romance with Katy. A ballsy heroine is fine, but she needs an equally enchanting fella to bounce off of if this series is going to be any kind of contender in the fit-to-burst paranormal YA scene. And I've got to say . . .  Daemon is a heavy-weight contender; fit to join the paranormal hunks parade.


Daemon is awful. Truly, he’s a total jack-ass when he first meets Katy, and then he continues to make terrible impressions by being snippy and rude, condescending, sarcastic and downright irritating. But I loved him, and you will too. It’s not even that he’s described as having jade-green eyes or washboard abs. It’s that he plays the bad-boy role so darn well with the right amount of bravado and quip, mixed with flashes of sincerity. As the story progresses and Katy learns about the Lux race and their sad, brutal history she starts to understand why Daemon and the other aliens may be wary of her . . .  but she still can’t fathom why he hates her so very much. Of course in between bouts of teasing and ridicule, Daemon shows his soft underbelly – like when he comes to Katy’s rescue, or is angered by a football jock’s interest in her. Daemon is an enticing puzzle that readers will enjoy deciphering as much as Katy. And it also helps that Armentrout writes some lovely, steamy scenes between the duo – scenes that are just this side of PG13 – they don’t read like filler, but actually help to push the story forward and reveal characterisations. Yes, Ms Armentrout gets top-marks for the devilishly delicious hero of Daemon.


‘Obsidian’ was a fun, compelling read. Is Jennifer L. Armentrout reinventing the paranormal wheel? No. But she does know how to write a darn good yarn (and an insanely appealing bad-boy hero!). The book has a few minor (miniscule, really!) flaws that are kind of inherent in the shallow pool of paranormal YA – but I can’t deny that I was glued to the page, from first line to last sentence. And I can’t wait for the second book in the series!


4.5/5

2 comments:

  1. I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to like Obsidian, it took me a while to read it. But holy cow, once I started I seriously could not put it down. I read it in one sitting! What really glued me to the pages was Daemons and Katys love hate thing they had going. Yes Daemon spends a lot of his time being an ass and pushing her away but the chemistry with those two was just too much for me to care!lol I have no idea what that says about me, but I was in love with Daemon.Oh and he called her KITTEN!! (you know who that reminds me of.)

    One of my other favorite things was that Katy was a book blogger. It was so fun seeing her talk about Waiting on Wednesday or In My Mailbox posts and getting new books in the mail. I always had to smile when those things were brought up. Katy was just an awesome heroine. I loved her personality. She is strong, funny and doesn't take crap from anyone.

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  2. This is a really good review, and you've made me want to read this when I probably wouldn't have given it much time before.

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