Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blue Moon, Second in the Immortal Series

I just finished the second book in Alyson Noel's series, the Immortals: Blue Moon.

We were on vacation in Washington, DC recently (more on that in another post), so I am (as usual) behind schedule on my To-Do list, and it was nice to plunk myself down and spend a pleasurable afternoon reading.

I was wondering where this series was going to go, because there are a few questions left after the first volume, but Ever and Damen's immortality is also well-established.

To recap a little, in book one of the Immortals we are introduced to Ever Bloom (yes, I know the name is a bit heavy-handed), who is tormented by unique abilities after the rest of her family dies in a tragic accident. Ever can sense people's thoughts and see their actions in her mind simply by casually brushing against them, and her powers are driving her crazy.

Reeling from her family's death, Ever tries to shield herself from all outside influence, until new student Damen comes along. Though Ever has no recollection, she has known Damen in previous lives. Damen, the love of her life and an immortal, has waited centuries for her to resurrect after having lost her repeatedly to mysterious "accidental" deaths in each of her prior incarnations.

His suspicions aroused by so many tragic coincidences, Damen learns that his ex-wife Drina, also an immortal, has been responsible, not just for Ever's previous deaths, but the accident that killed her family, and this time he is able to help Ever discover her true potential as an immortal, allowing her to destroy the evil Drina forever.

Whew. And that's just the first book! As I said, I was wondering where the series was going, because now that Ever has embraced her immortality and dealt with her family's death, what do the couple really have to fear? You'd think, being immortal, and with Ever growing stronger every day with her powers, including the ability to manifest items out of thin air, life would be easy.

But in Blue Moon, teenager Ever is tortured by insecurity other teen girls can relate to. Though a virgin herself, she is intimidated by Damen's long--and very experienced--love life, including ex-wife Drina. Her insecurity keeps her from taking the next step with Damen and becoming intimate, causing friction between the two. When another new student, Roman, begins to befriend everyone else in the high school, including Damen, Ever cannot help feeling even more threatened--and then suspicious. Surely Roman can't be as charming and innocent as everyone thinks he is!

When Damen--the always-healthy immortal--sudeenly falls sick, loses his ability to manifest and even turns against Ever himself, she knows her suspicions are justified. But how can she take Roman down when the whole school is on his side?

I enjoyed Blue Moon, but I have to say that there are some similarities cropping up in the Immortals to the Twilight series, and not for the better. Alyson Noel is a more experienced and talented writer than Stephanie Meyer, but she is falling into the same trap of writing a book in which the love interest is distancing himself from the main character and risks alienating her audience. Girls who identify with Ever will be frustrated with the way Damen treats her in this book, and how little a role he plays as the book goes on. The (frustrating) cliffhanger ending is reminiscent of the second book in the Twilight series as well.

Still, I find myself looking forward to the third installment, due out in February, where Ever must deal with the consequences of the actions she took in her efforts to save Damen and banish Roman from their lives.

My take: Blue Moon is well-paced, the characters are interesting, and it kept me turning the pages until the very end. I would like to see Ever's two best friends come through for her more often--they seem far too likely to fall prey to other influences. Trust and betrayal are common themes that are re-visited often. Ever's trust in others frequently seems misplaced, which leads to her having to act, too frequently, without the aid of others. There is opportunity here to reinforce, rather than downplay, the importance of friends you can count on when things go wrong in your life, and I would like to see more of that in Blue Moon.

Parents: This young adult book has some mature themes that could open up valuable talking points with your teens, but which may make some parents uncomfortable. In Blue Moon, Ever's virginity and her desire to consummate her relationship is discussed at length. Her best friend is openly gay to his friends, but has not come out yet to his parents.

Read an excerpt from the book at the Blue Moon website!

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