Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Series Review: Immortal Beloved (#1-3) by Cate Tiernan

A HUGE thank you to Lauren @ Love is Not a Triangle for convincing me to pick up this series - I loved it! You can read her fantastic review of Immortal Beloved HERE

Title: Immortal Beloved (Immortal Beloved, #1) 
Author: Cate Tiernan
Rating: 4 Stars

Not for the first time, I am intensely annoyed at whoever named this book. Actually, this series as a whole. If you're anything like me, then you've been burned by the YA Paranormal Genre too many times to count and have solidly shut and locked that door behind you, burning the key while you're at it. Yup, that's right, I have moved onto brighter - more satisfying - pastures. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I was recommended Immortal Beloved by a close and trusted friend. In my mind, the words Immortal Beloved = Vampire Romance = Run Away Screaming. Not a very promising start for a series, but I was reassured - multiple times - that this book had nothing to do with vampires and I am incredibly glad I picked it up. Folks, sit up and listen because this, this is good Paranormal YA. (Yes, it exists! It's not a myth!)

When Nastasya, an immortal having lived on Earth for well over four decades, witnesses her best friend paralyze a cabbie driver with his dark magic, she gets the wake-up call she deserves. For many years, Nastasya has partied and sinned with a group of immortal friends, fed-up of seeing her lovers and children grow old and die. Now, however, Nasty is disgusted that she could become the person she has become and she quickly flies to Boston to attend a rehabilitation center for immortals run by River, a woman she briefly met in France many years ago. As Nasty will realize, though, rehabilitation for immortals doesn't simply mean becoming a good person, it means embracing the emotions she's shut herself off from for centuries.

What I love about Immortal Beloved is that it is a primarily character-driven novel. We become one with this snarky narrator and her struggles soon seem like ours. As Nasty learns to give up her old habits of drinking, as she soon becomes immersed in the organic lifestyle at River's, as she begins to open herself up to other people - new friends, both immortal and mortal alike - her transformation is remarkable. It isn't easy and it is littered with dark thoughts, sharp flashbacks into the past she has lived through and tried fruitlessly to forget. Tiernan crafts Nasty in such a way that her voice is relate-able and real. It's common for humans, not just immortals, to stamp down on bad memories and seeing Nasty learn to face her past and her fears is an experience that readers can connect to. Furthermore, Nasty's past allows us a glimpse into different windows of history. Seeing Nasty herself change from those time periods to embrace the present makes us all the more cognizant of what we have today.

One of my favorite aspects of this story, though, is the romance. Reyn, another immortal Nasty meets, is strange and aloof, but the chemistry between him and Nasty is palpable. If anything, these two circle each other, both uncertain of whether or not to start something new. It simmers, is shockingly sweet, and remains a very small element of the novel overall. Nasty's narration is hilarious and gripping, one you won't want to stop reading, and the thought Tiernan has put into creating an immortal character - one who has suffered through so much, century after century - is admirable. I absolutely adored this introduction to the trilogy and cannot recommend it enough for fans of YA who believe the paranormal sub-genre is dead. Clearly, it isn't.

Title: Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved, #2) 
Author: Cate Tiernan 
Rating: 3.5 Stars

As a sequel, Darkness Falls is definitely a much stronger book than Immortal Beloved. For one, it delves even deeper into Nastasya and her psyche, particularly her fears of working her magic. At River's, she begins to learn how to use magic without taking energy from others around her, but Nasty remains afraid that the darkness in her bloodline will curse both her and those she gets close to. Thus, the title of this book is both apt and reassuring - Darkness Falls. It is the journey to seeing Nasty come to terms with who she is and what she can do that makes this book all the more rewarding by the end. 

Unfortunately, though, I can't admit to enjoying this installment as much as the first one. For one, I found myself confused by Nasty's continued involvement with the townspeople. While I love that it opens up a different side of her, it serves no true purpose to the plot. Additionally, Nasty herself was quite - for lack of a better word - stupid during many moments in this novel. Very obvious conclusions that she should have been able to draw were not drawn until the last minute and made for monotonous reading at times. Yet, my biggest qualm is that this novel failed to further the romance between Reyn and Nasty until the very end. I was hoping for budding sexual tension, but was sadly disappointed on that front. 

Nevertheless, this book is a winner, through and through. Nasty is a riot, as always, and her narrative voice is so compelling. Furthermore, this book delves into her past, especially her relationship with her best friend Incy, and seeing their roles as men and women change over time is note-worthy. Nasty grows tremendously in this novel and I love that her growth in each book is so distinct and realistic. Darkness Falls is a good, solid YA, full of strong friendships and impeccable character growth. I cannot wait for the final installment in this trilogy. I doubt it'll disappoint; after all, Cate Tiernan doesn't seem to know the word. 

Title: Eternally Yours (Immortal Beloved, #3) 
Author: Cate Tiernan
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I've found it increasingly difficult to be satisfied with conclusions this year, but thankfully, Eternally Yours lived up to all my expectations - and then some. Nasty continues to shine, both as a character attempting to attain more from her immortal existence and as a narrator who never fails to make me laugh. After the events of Darkness Falls, Nasty is a changed immortal and Eternally Yours captures her mindset perfectly. Now, finally settled into River's and with close friends - not to mention a budding romance with immortal hunk, Reyn - Nasty finally feels at home. Yet, dark forces are still at work, slowly trying to bring down the power of the eight immortal houses and the battle is no longer about Nasty - it's about all the immortals.

What I love about Eternally Yours is that Nasty is still as insecure and afraid as she was in the beginning of Immortal Beloved, but at the same time, she isn't. It isn't easy to face up to your past, embrace magic you formerly saw as dark, or break centuries of evil family tradition to become a good person. And Tiernan, keeping up with Nasty's persona, doesn't make this change easy on her. Nasty is still struggling, just as most patients in rehabilitation centers do, and though the problems she faces are different, her growth and gradual change isn't. I love that her character is flawed, both weak and strong, both introverted and social, both reckless and thoughtful. Nasty has become so much more than her past and she truly comes into her true, flawed self in this book in a way she never has before. And I love that.

Moreover, her relationship with Reyn finally sails. I was disappointed by their minimal interactions in Darkness Falls, but this installment finally makes us see that their chemistry is more than just physical. Reyn and Nasty have an unlikely relationship, but one that is even stronger for their past and together, they truly understand one another. Nevertheless, their relationship struggles through its ups-and-downs, blundering along and never wholly certain of any outcome. Yet, though their path was littered with strife, it was an utterly satisfying read. Eternally Yours is the perfect conclusion to this series, neatly wrapping up all loose ends and leaving us confident and sure of Nasty's future. We've seen her through her worst and though we know she'll undoubtedly face her rough patches, her growth has been so phenomenal and carefully crafted that we have hope and trust that she'll find a way to keep leaving. (Not like she has much of a choice...) Truly, I cannot recommend this series enough. Stunning from start to finish, the Immortal Beloved Trilogy is simply not to be missed. Not at all.

Summer Series Reading Challenge: 8, 9, & 10

16 comments:

  1. This is a gorgeous set of reviews, K! I really love seeing your thoughts on all of the books in one post. It really gives a sense of the beauty of this series. I am thrilled that you picked these up and liked them! Heather recommended them to me first, so I have her ultimately to thank. I hope lots more people read them because they're fantastic. I agree with all of your thoughts, especially your comments on Darkness Falls being a strong novel, though Nasty's poor decisions seem obvious to us. I was very skeptical about Reyn at first, but I agree that he and Nas have a unique and powerful relationship. Even though we don't see a huge wedding or a big HEA (thank goodness), I still left this series believing that over time they're going to be better than okay. I love that this author was able to convey that without going overboard with an epilogue. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!

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  2. Oh I love the reviews one after another. I was worried that the final book wouldn't live up to the rest. I usually don't like the final books in a series. However, this one looks as though it answers a lot of questions and fulfills what the second one lacked. Brilly reviews!

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  3. A character driven plot is always a strong sell for me, and this series sounds wonderful, Keertana! Nice that you got to read all three books back to back. I love that! No worry about remembering details a year later, plus your whole mindset is in that world. I'll have to check this series out. Excellent reviews! :)

    I'm right there with you as far as disappointing series endings this year. Clockwork Princess and Boundless make me very wary. :(

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  4. Awesome reviews!! I LOVED Immortal Beloved and have the other two but haven't made time to read them. I think I'm going to have to make time!
    I loved Nasty and the idea of Immortals was so new to me when I read the first book. The title is a bit misleading, you are right.

    (I popped over from Books and Things. Saw you on her sidebar and that you reviewed this series. I wanted to see what you thought of it.)

    Heather

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  5. I have seen this series so many times on GR but overlooked it until now. Immortal Beloved sounds fantastic! I love character-driven novels, especially when you can so easily connect and relate with the main characters despite having that paranormal aspect present. I'm so happy this wasn't an issue here. Nasty and Reyn both sound like solid characters and so does the romance. I can't wait to meet them both!

    Sorry the second book wasn't as great as the first! :( I hate it when characters can't figure out the answers even when they are staring them in the face. It seems thats what happened with Nasty here. And sequels always seem to drag the romance in the YA genre. But, the character growth is definitely a winner aspect for me too. I'm glad the author kept that a constant.

    Eternally Yours sounds fantastic as well! I'm happy the romance finally picks up! I seriously can't wait to pick up this series, after your reviews! Soo glad you enjoyed them!

    Just amazing reviews! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

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  6. Yes, I am have all but given up on paranormal YA - it's what got me back into reading & YA, but it's not what I want to be reading now if it all the books continue to mimic each other.

    But I will defo take your rec on board, K, and give this series a go! It definitely sounds more unique than most!

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  7. I just attempted to read her Sweep series and had to put it down due to bad writing. Because of that, I am hesitant to pick this one up. But I DO own book one so I am going to read it at some point. Especially since it has your high praise.

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  8. Oh. Like you, I've been avoiding this one like the plague because of the title/cover combinations. Even when Sam reviewed it recently, I was curious, but not entirely convinced. However, I haven't read a decent YA paranormal in a while, and this is just challenging and original enough to make me want to try.

    I'm not surprised that the second book was the weakest link and I'm kind of disapppointed that the author allowed a character like Nasty to behave stupidly, but at least it went away in book 3. So I'm in.
    Wonderful reviews, my darling.

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  9. I have seen these books around but still haven't read them. I just can tell you that I'm so curious about the Eternally Yours that I'd rather skip the other two xD I won't do it of course but that will make me read them faster. Great reviews Keertana :)

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  10. For some reason, this series has always fallen a wee bit below my radar. I don't know why, but I've always looked the other way. It sounds nice though, that we actually have to work to see a romance soar through the final book - that appeals to me because it doesn't always happen that way. I'm definitely intrigued now. Lovely reviews, Keertana! :)

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  11. I obviously need to finish this series Keertana! I read the first book and enjoyed it, but I got distracted by other new and shiny things when the second book came out and I never got to it. I'm super excited to see the highest rating of all on the last book, that has me wanting to run to the bookstore and buy the final two just so I can spend more time with Reyn and enjoy their relationship finally being what I wanted it to be in book one!

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  12. I'm glad you liked this one. It was a favourite of mine. Nasty is one of the more memorable protagonists and I liked the tone of her voice. It's refreshingly frank and disarming.

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  13. I've never been a fan of YA paranormal, to be honest. For similar reasons to you, I'm sure. But I became intrigued after reading Lauren's review myself, and now that you're also wholeheartedly promoting this series, I suppose I do need to give it a chance. The idea of an immortal rehabilitation center sounds fascinating, as does the series in general. Lovely review, Keertana!

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  14. Awesome series review, I would have never gave this series another thought otherwise. I especially love the sound that it is character drive, those are my favorite. And the romance being a positive point rather than a negative makes me want this now! Thanks for sharing.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

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  15. First, I want to say that I LOVED these reviews! I loved that all three books were together so I was able to see what you thoughts as the books went on (obviously....I'm going crazy!).

    And because I am a 5 year old inside, I couldn't help but giggle at "Nasty." BUT I still want to read these books and it actually added to my enjoyment of reading!

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