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Saturday, August 25, 2012

'Onyx' Lux #2 by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From the BLURB:
Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

*** Contains spoilers of first book 'Obsidian' ***

Katy’s universe was turned upside down the moment she met her next-door-neighbour, Daemon Black and became friends with his twin sister, Dee. Katy was already undergoing enough change in her life, what with her father dying recently and her mum moving them from Florida to West Virginia. But then Katy met the Black siblings and not only was her universe turned upside down, it also got a whole lot bigger . . . because Katy uncovered the truth about Daemon and Dee, and most of the inhumanly beautiful residents of her sleepy new town. Katy discovered that many of the people populating this quiet, Podunk town are in fact aliens. Not only that, they’re aliens in the middle of an intergalactic game of cat and mouse against a villainous race called the Arum, not to mention they’re also under close surveillance by the Department of Defense (DOD) who may or may not be so interested in them for military gains.

Katy has become doubly embroiled in this alien mess, after she and Daemon formed a special, visceral bond that lets her feel where he is at all times, and start to develop a few inhumanly interesting abilities of her own. . .

‘Onyx’ is the second book in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s young adult paranormal romance series, ‘Lux’.

I read the first book in Armentrout’s new series, ‘Obsidian’, back in May this year and loved it. It was a deliciously over-the-top YA paranormal romance with a different flavour of supernatural that really hooked me and had me excited for this new ‘Lux’ series. So I went into ‘Onyx’ with very high hopes for a similar thrill-ride read.

This second book picks up immediately where ‘Obsidian’ left off. After facing-off against an Arum attack and saving his life, Katy has formed an odd and physical connection with Daemon Black. This connection is unnerving for a few reasons – partly due to Daemon running hot and cold with Katy, who is distraught at her own influx feelings for him. Secondly, the connection seems to be having some very strange, alien side-effects on Katy. But while Katy and Daemon try to find their footing in the wake of this strange bond, a new boy called Blake arrives at school to throw yet another spanner in the works – when he shows a keen attraction to Katy, but also seems to have a few too many coincidences surrounding his arrival in town, right when the DOD also make an appearance.

I've got to admit; this second book hit a few potholes for me and didn’t live up to expectation (much as I hate to admit it!). To begin with, I didn’t really like Katy and found her to be a very different heroine than the one I met in ‘Obsidian’. In that first book I praised Katy for not turning into a puddle before Daemon Black’s God-like good looks and jerk-face behaviour. I loved that Katy was a girl not to be trampled, and she really held her own and enjoyed sparring with Daemon and not letting him get too full of himself. The Katy in ‘Onyx’ seemed to be a changed woman, not necessarily for the better. Remembering that Katy is also a book blogger and reviewer (with a particular love for all things urban fantasy/paranormal) I found a few of her missteps in ‘Onyx’ to be a little befuddling. There were a few times when she did just plain stupid things where the DOD and Blake were concerned, and I thought she was a smarter heroine than that. But it was more in her interactions with Daemon that she let me down – there were just so many times when I thought she was making more relationship drama than was necessary. A lot of this book seemed to be a back-and-forth for Katy where she was one moment thinking “I love Daemon. But I can’t tell him” to “I've ruined everything with Daemon. I don’t know what to say to him”. I thought she was quite a witty, articulate girl in ‘Obsidian’ – so there were a few instances where she let me down and I missed her smart repartee with Daemon.

I also felt like ‘Onyx’ was a lot lighter on plot than ‘Obsidian’ was. Admittedly, the first book of any paranormal/urban fantasy series is usually the one with the most going on – because all the supernatural aspects have mystery surrounding them, followed by clues and then a big reveal. ‘Onyx’ was very much focused on the Katy/Daemon merry-go-round, and a rock-solid plot with the DOD didn’t really become apparent until late in the second-half. Admittedly, there’s a great set-up for the third book established by ‘Onyx’s’ end, but for me there was a lot of this book that just felt like high-school relationship drama and didn’t live up to my supernatural expectations. And because this was so much the ‘Katy & Daemon Show’, other characters who I'd come to really like in ‘Obsidian’ were given little page-time and no further development – like Dee and mean-girl (and Daemon’s ex) Ash. I wish Armentrout had included more of the alien characters in this book, to get an idea of their community and for Katy to interact with them more.

Armentrout obviously knew she was on to a winner with the Katy/Daemon relationship, so ‘Onyx’ is really only about them, them, them. I suppose a lot of readers will be thrilled with this, but for me I thought Armentrout’s alien race (a great change of pace from the usual werewolves/vampires/angels in the supernatural genre at the moment) was one of the reasons that ‘Lux’ piqued my interest in the first place, so I was disappointed not to have more of a focus on the world-building in ‘Onyx’. But, again, towards the end of the novel I felt like Katy and Daemon’s relationship woes converged with the wider DOD/alien arc, and became far more interesting for it;

“No.” He reached out, catching my chin in a gentle grasp, forcing me to look at him. And when I did, I couldn’t breathe. His eyes churned. “I’m worried. I’m worried for a thousand different reasons and I hate this – I hate feeling like I can’t do anything about it. That history is on repeat and even though I can see it as clear as day, I can’t stop it.”

Look, I still enjoyed ‘Onyx’ and was eager to get to the end of the book to know what happens. And, credit where credit’s due, Armentrout gets bonus points for a great Buffy reference (bonus, because it was the original 1992 movie with Donald Sutherland she made a point of referencing. Nice.) But for me, this book had too much romance and not enough paranormal – some people will love that fact, but I felt like it meant plot fell by the wayside and Armentrout’s wonderful world-building and supernatural build-up in ‘Obsidian’ deflated a bit in ‘Onyx’. There is a great set-up for the third book that ensures I’ll be returning to the series in December, but ‘Onyx’ was a small disappointment for me.


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