Series: Birthright #1
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Publication date: January 7th 2014
by Simon Pulse
Vivi’s animal instincts are her legacy—and maybe her downfall—in this start to a romantic fantasy series that will appeal to fans of The Nine Lives of Chloe King.
Vivi has known the truth about her family—and herself—since she was thirteen. But that doesn’t mean she’s accepted it. Being Haguari isn’t something she feels she’ll ever accept. How can she feel like anything but a freak knowing that it’s in her genes to turn into a jaguar?
Now eighteen, Vivi’s ready to break away from the traditions of her heritage. But all of that changes with the shocking, devastating deaths of her parents and the mysteries left behind. Vivi discovers family she never even knew she had, and a life open with possibility. New friends, new loyalties, and even romance all lay ahead—but so do dangers unlike anything Vivi ever could have imagined.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster for review-
From lack of excitement to a protagonist I despised to a very bizarre romantic arc, I was happy to be done with this one. To paint a quick picture: the only interesting part of this book is in the blurb.
Darkest Fear starts with an intriguing Jaguar Shape-shifting lore that, for the most part, is well crafted. The narrative when in Jaguar form is particularly clever. I was certain it was the promising start of an impressive series, especially when only a few chapters in, something monumental happens. Something ominous that proposes an epic mystery to come. However, once this scene passes we get a whole lot of mundane happenings, from Vivi finding a job, to her day to day life, to detailed scenes of her baking various things. How positively dull! Perhaps its purpose was to make us bond with the characters. Unfortunately none of them were made to be compelling.
For one, with such a large secondary cast, these characters needed more personality and distinctive voices to avoid blending together. For another, Vivi herself is not very likeable. She’s always hated the Jaguar part of herself; never learning about or accepting her world, basically hoping that by ignoring it it would go away. While this is understandable – I would be freaked out too if I learned I could grow fur – as the story progresses, her constant rejection, even disgust, of it all became too much. For instance, she would get into a dire situation due to her shifting ineptitude, this would push her to decide it was time to learn and finally accept that side of her, only to chicken out and be back at step one. It was very frustrating. There are also other quirks like how she repeatedly commented on her boss’s hotness (and I mean, punch-book-in-its-book-mouth excessive), or how she would often say “gosh” – urgh! Obviously I never connected with her in any way.
As for the romance. I don’t even understand the point of it being in the book for how bizarre and short of a spotlight it got. In a few words, she got a couple of offers for sex and that was that. No passion, no chemistry, no nothing. It felt incredibly random. The only responses it got from me were cocked eyebrows and flared nostrils. It was very attractive-making.
Now, I have a big pet peeve when it comes to shape shifters and realistic clothing… repercussions. This book did well with shredded clothes and nakedness, except for that one time. One out of the 5+ times she shifted, when it was, of course, hugely inconvenient for her to appear naked, her clothes were magically waiting for her in the bushes unscathed. I read this twice to make sure I didn’t miss her removing her clothes beforehand, but the shift was unexpected and unplanned. I’m honestly hoping this is just an editing slip-up that will be fixed in the final copy because it deserves a removal of a star for that alone.
I’m always looking for the next epic paranormal series, and I really had hoped this one would fit the bill so it’s unfortunate that it failed to impress me to such degree. In the end, I was just very, very fed up. Also, we get no answers on anything! None! Here’s to hoping you have better luck with it!