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