Monday, July 1, 2013

Series Review: Mercy Thompson (#5-7) by Patricia Briggs

I've been flying through this series and it's hard to believe that I've finally caught up. Needless to say, this series just keeps getting better and better and I highly recommend it for any fans of UF. You can check out my review for the first book HERE and my mini-reviews for the other books in this series HERE. You can also read my reviews for the spin-off series HERE and HERE. Also, just to quickly confirm, these reviews are spoiler-free.

Title: Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, #5) 
Author: Patricia Briggs
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Being a mechanic is hard work. Mercy Thompson, for instance, just spent the last couple of months trying to evade the murderous queen of the local vampire seethe. And now the leader of the werewolf pack, who's maybe-more-than-just-a-friend, has asked for her help. A book of fae secrets has come to light and they're all about to find out how implacable - and dangerous - the fae can be. OK, so maybe her troubles have nothing to do with the job. But she sure could use a holiday...
At this point, I am unable to re-call a single swoon-worthy factor about any character whose name isn't Adam Hauptman because, DAMN, Adam Hauptman. Silver Borne is a lot of things; it's another action-packed Mercy Thompson installment, it's another fae-infused novel from this world, it's a novel that I wouldn't hesitate to label, really, as Sam's book...but despite all that, Adam Hauptman steals the show. Granted, he sorta does that every time he saunters onto the page, crisp in his suit and tie, his eye glinting with the ferocity - and vulnerability - of an alpha of the werewolf pack, but if Mercy wasn't already Adam's, you can bet I'd have volunteered myself into a Hunger Games to win him after this book.

While the plot of Silver Borne is deceptively simple and its execution similar to that of the Alpha & Omega Series with a heavy dose of action during the last few chapters, character growth in the name of the game with this installment. Not only is there an overarching plot thread concerning the book Mercy borrowed from Phin - and didn't return, mind you - there is an even more pressing concern of Mercy's new involvement with the pack, because now, she is pack. While we experienced the dynamics of a mate bond between Charles and Anna in Hunting Ground, the bond between Adam and Mercy is different not only because of their personalities or because Mercy is a coyote, but also because Adam is the leader of a pack and all their minds are intricately intertwined, whether they like it or not.

As such, Mercy truly has to come to trust Adam in a way she never has before. Now, Mercy can no longer push Adam aside and deal with issues the way she prefers, she has to let Adam in, no matter what the nature of the issue may be. In fact, there are many lengthy conversations between these two and the depth, growth, and maturity of their relationship simply continues to astound me. In addition to Mercy and Adam, though, Mercy's friendship and loyalty to Sam is tested as her best friend slowly begins to lose control. And when a werewolf loses control, you better pray you're in a bomb shelter or hidden in an underwater grotto - they're that scary. I think Mercy's growth as a person is the most significant in this installment - and I loved that.

Nevertheless, Silver Borne does suffer from a few flaws. For one, the plot wasn't nearly as captivating as that in Iron Kissed or Bone Crossed. Honestly, I didn't expect it to be, but was still slightly disappointed regardless. Additionally, a new character is introduced in this novel and her involvement is all very coincidental, but perfect, to the dynamics of these characters. While I frown at the convenience of the situation, I remain curious to see if/how it continues in the sequel. With the exception of those minor faults, though, Silver Borne was just as brilliant as the other installments in this series, if not more because of the intimate role the pack played in this novel as well. All in all, I remain stolidly impressed by Patricia Briggs and am only hoping they come out with Mercy-Thompson-Restraining-Pills soon so this urge I have to keep reading, reading, reading will dissipate. It may not look like it, but I really am trying to prolong this series for as long as I can. At the rate I'm going, though, I suspect Frost Burned will be joining my shelves in just a matter of weeks - this series is simply irresistible.

Title: River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6) 
Author: Patricia Briggs
Rating: 3 Stars
Coyote shifter Mercy Thompson knows that life with her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will never be boring, but even their wedding doesn't go as planned. Nevertheless, a ten-day honeymoon camping on the banks of the Columbia River, alone, just the two of them, should make up for it. But the trip - and the pimped-out trailer they're using - is courtesy of the fae. And nothing from the fae comes without strings attached...Being a different breed of shapeshifter - a walker - Mercy can see ghosts, but the spirit of her long-gone father has never visited her. Until now. An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River - and innocent people are dying. As other walkers make their presence know to Mercy, she must reconnect with her heritage to exorcise the world of the legend known as the river devil...
Ironically, River Marked was the Mercy Thompson book I was most looking forward to. All I knew was that it was about Adam and Mercy's honeymoon and combined with the depth their relationships sustained throughout the past two books, I simply did not think this could go wrong. Unfortunately, however, River Marked is the worst book in the Mercy Thompson Series. Not, of course, like that's saying much since it's still a Mercy Thompson and, therefore, I still love it. Yet, after the last three novels in this series - which have been absolutely incredible - River Marked is a sore disappointment and crushing reminder that Patricia Briggs is, after all, only human.

River Marked is, as I mentioned, about Adam and Mercy's honeymoon. After a beautiful wedding, the two set out to camp using the trailer loaned to them by Uncle Mike. As we all know, though, trouble seems to follow Mercy wherever she goes and borrowing a trailer from the fey turns out to be a terrible idea for the reservation where Mercy and Adam are camped is home to a river devil. River Marked is interesting in the sense that it explores Native American heritage in a way Briggs has never explored it before. Mercy's heritage is always known throughout the novels, but it truly shines and comes to light here under the backdrop of forgotten lore and spirits.

And yet, this is also the reason this novel did not work for me. River Marked deals a lot with Mercy's difficulty of belonging, but in a very one-dimensional sense. Throughout this series, it is obvious that Mercy is alone in the world, whether it be because of her mixed lineage or her unique walker abilities. River Marked explores this idea by delving into the unresolved issues Mercy has with not knowing her real father because he died before even knowing her mother was pregnant. For me, this entire plot thread felt all too sudden. In the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews, Kate has issues with her father too - issues that are built up and touched upon subtlely in each novel. Furthermore, Kate confides these fears with her mate - Curran. With River Marked, though, we have a sudden influx of confessions, of hidden feelings we didn't even know Mercy possessed. As such, the deep bond that is forged between Mercy and the reader, particularly with the preceding three novels, feels very weak. River Marked failed to impress merely because the emotional punch that comes with every Briggs novel was lacking.

Additionally, the plot of River Marked was not all that gripping. What makes the Mercy Thompson Series so spectacular is not just Mercy and Adam, but the secondary characters too. While River Marked did have an interesting side cast, it was nearly impossible to feel much for them, and definitely not the way we feel for Stefan, Warren, Kyle, or Zee. It is clear to me now that Mercy and Adam are not enough to carry this series forward the way Anna and Charles are, simply because they haven't been that way from the beginning. While I will admit to enjoying the interactions between Mercy and Adam in this book, there was a shortage of truly deep moments. Granted, this isn't a bad thing, but I think I expected more struggle and turmoil emotionally between these two on their honeymoon than what I got. Nevertheless, River Marked is a vital installment to the Mercy Thompson arc, shedding light on Mercy's parenthood, and while not the best Mercy Thompson book out there, it still has plenty of shirtless Adam in it, so who am I to complain?

Title: Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7) 
Author: Patricia Briggs
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…. After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted. Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.
It's more than a little disappointing that I've already caught up on this series. I didn't expect to love this novel as much as I did, particularly after the disaster that was River Marked or the perfection that was Fair Game - two extremes that made for mixed feelings going into this - but I needn't have worried. Frost Burned certainly delivers and perhaps my only qualm is the awkward shift to third person during Adam's narration. With that slight bump aside, this was nothing short of a pure delight. Quick, action-packed, romantic, and featuring some of my past favorites such as Stefan and Asil, nothing can quite go wrong with this latest installment.

From the beginning itself, it is clear that Frost Burned is a different kind of Mercy Thompson. Not only is this the first time that we see Mercy take on her role in the Pack, but it is also one of the few times that Adam is truly in trouble. While Mercy has never relied on Adam in the past, he was always there in the background, a reassuring hum, if you will. Thus, with Mercy suddenly alone and thrust into a realm of responsibility, the stakes are suddenly much, much more different. And better. Seeing Mercy embrace her position in the Pack is nothing short of wonderful. Frost Burned gives us the mature, kick-ass, ever-sarcastic Mercy that we've wanted her to become from the beginning and left to her own devices with only Stefan by her side, she is just as - if not more - formidable than ever.

Even more than simply Mercy, though, the entire Pack takes on a sharp realization of their own. Since Mercy can now feel the bonds the rest of the Pack feels, our emotions while reading this are much more tangible. Additionally, Adam's perspective gives us a deeper view into the moral ambiguity that comes with being a werewolf. Although we've always known that these supernatural creatures are deadly and strong, we've perhaps never felt just how dangerous they can be. Furthermore, the subtle undertones of understanding between Mercy and Adam, the many wonders of their Mating Bond...all of these come to light and enhance the relationship between these two. If you thought Mercy and Adam were the perfect couple, this book only solidifies that image. It is heart-wrenching, gripping, and utterly un-put-down-able. Prepare to see a new side of Mercy, of Adam, of the vampires, and even of everything you thought you knew about the fae. With a rich installment of characters, particularly Asil, a favorite from Alpha and Omega, Briggs's latest promises to make you question your all-time favorite book in this series. Let's just hope Night Broken will be the same.

Summer Series Reading Challenge: 2

12 comments:

  1. I don't think that there is a point of me reading these reviews as I have no idea what this series is about. I've seen your review for the previous books and I really hope to get to read them :) I'm glad you enjoyed :)

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  2. This is the year in which I must start reading this series! And now even more so: "DAMN, Adam Hauptman" - I want to meet this guy!

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  3. I so need to meet this Adam Hauptman guy, he sounds like a lot of fun. I'm always a little wary when it comes to reading series, especially when you get couple of hit and misses in between, but I'm glad that you've stuck it out with this series Keertana and that you're as ever eager to get your hands on the next books! Lovely reviews! :)

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  4. I still need to read River Marked Keertana! I'm bummed it's clearly not the strongest in the series, but it looks like Patricia came back with a vengeance in Frost Burned and made up for any of the lackluster moments in River Marked! Yet another series I need to get caught up on and I can't wait! Glad to see it's still one of your favorites:):)

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  5. I haven't even started this series (I know...I fail), but it sounds as though it's something I might really enjoy. I find a lot of series have an installment or two that lag and seem a bit like a filler, so that doesn't necessarily put me off too much. Wonderful review(s), Keertana! :)

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  6. OMG! You caught up with the series I've been itching to catch up on! I still need some books available to me to do just that. So stoked I got one recently in HC for cheap. :D

    Oh and I can't wait to read about Adam! I love him already and it's clear it will be even more as it goes on!

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  7. I can't believe you're all caught up! Okay...I can believe it, I've been slacking since I can't get the fourth book on audio and I'm kind of holding out to see if I get that Audible membership I asked for for my birthday...I DID just buy Silver Borne because it was $4 brand new hardcover in the bargain section, and who can say no to that? I need some more Adam and Mercy in my life. IT IS TIME.

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  8. Did I tell you I got the audio version of book one, Keertana. I'm so excited to pick up this series, even if all of them are not mind blowing. I can't wait! Wonderful reviews. :)

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  9. Wonderful reviews! this is one of my all time favourite UF series, I adore Mercy and Adam and I have to agree with you, River Marked has been my least favourite so far.

    I need to grab a copy of Frost Burned, it sounds great!

    Sharon – Obsession with Books

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  10. I just love your reviews. This series review you do is so very helpful. Especially since a lot of times, series can lose steam and interest as they go along. I've been on the fence about this series, but I think I might try it.

    I admit I am veeeery curious about this Adam. I might have to see what he is all about and get in on that fandom.

    Well done, Keertana! Another incredibly helpful post/reviews.

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