05 junho 2011

Review: The Cursed Ones

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2011)
Format: Paperback | 480 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Description (Goodreads): "The ultimate battle. The ultimate love.For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun. Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio; his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose. Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself - and her heart."
Warning: Contains some Spoilers!
When I first heard about this book, I thought the premise looked interesting: somehow vampires have taken over and most of the world is under their rule. A group of hunters trained by the Church at an Academy in Salamanca, Spain are one of the last hopes of Humankind.

I was really curious as how the vampires had gained power, because although it makes for an intriguing plot, it needs to be written carefully, otherwise it will look unrealistic.

Unfortunately it all seemed pretty unrealistic. I could have bought the whole part where the vampires announced their existence and claimed to be friendly; setting the trap and all. But I just didn't think the following war was believable. Apparently despite their supposed superiority in number and all their explosive and fire-related weapons Humankind... sort of lost.

The authors explain that this happened in part, because governments decided to make wild accusations against each other instead of uniting. Oh and that soldiers weren't prepared to fight vampires. I mean... soldiers weren't but a bunch of teens with some training in Krav-Maga were? Again, not buying it.

Still, if the only problem was that the basic storyline and the world-building didn't ring true I wouldn't have minded. But there were other things that bothered me.

Like the beginning of the book, for example. "The Cursed Ones" opens with a wild action scene where the Salamanca hunters are fighting fiercely for their lives against some vampires. The main character, Jenn is the one describing the scene and telling us how much in luuurve she is with her hunter partner Antonio. I must admit that it did cross my mind then that this might not be the first book in the series since the main character was already a trained hunter and had a love interest. As I continued reading though, I understood this was in fact, book 1 but that the authors had decided to skip the whole training part and the characters falling in love part and go right into the fighting. Everything you know about these two subjects comes later in the form of flashbacks, which were kind of annoying because they broke the flow of the narrative.

Another thing that annoyed me were the characters. The majority of them were uninteresting and one-dimensional despite all the little flashback chapters they had about themselves and their dark, dark pasts sprinkled throughout the book. And Jenn... she was the most uninteresting of them all as she was always whiny and weak in the key moments. Oh wait, I think Antonio may have been even worse... he was just so stereotypically dark and tortured (and vampire) that it was almost painful to read about him (every time he said "Ay, mi amor" I wanted to gag). Just call him Edward Cullen or Patch or whatever.
The only character I found mildly interesting was the priest.

Plus, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between the hunter team in this book and Buffy's group of friends in the show "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer". There was a witch, a werewolf, a tortured vampire and his love interest (who was not a slayer, but a hunter) and a couple of humans. Sounds familiar? Yeah, I thought so too. Actually the entire plot would fit nicely into a Buffy episode, except the characters of the TV show are so much better.

Overall I didn't care much for this book. It had weak world-building, almost no character development (not to mention the characters themselves were really annoying most of the time) and the story was not that original or interesting (predictable, even). The flashbacks in the middle of the normal events were irritating and as I said before, cut the flow of the narrative. There were some really well written fight scenes, but other than that this book failed to surprise or interest me in any way as it brings nothing new to the genre and the basic premise is badly explored in my opinion. Recommended only if you're a big fan of vampire books.

Note: I have received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads, but this in no way influenced my review.

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