Friday, 17 September 2010

Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie

"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 vampire 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."

This world, Jenn and the other main characters, were first introduced in a short story in The Eternal Kiss, a YA anthology which was released last year. You don't need to read that story to read this, the important things from it are covered in plenty of detail in this story. But I loved that short story. I was very excited to find out that there would be a series, a trilogy I believe, to come from it.

Jenn, Antonio, Skye, Holgar, Eriko and Jamie are a team of hunters. One of very few, normally hunters work alone, and they're lucky to survive a few months. But just because they're a team, doesn't mean they get on. In fact, they barely trust each other, or themselves. The only one they really seem to trust is their handler, Father Juan, one of the men who trained them. When Jenn travels back to the US after the sudden death of a family member she finds out just how bad the situation is, that vampires, the Cursed Ones, really are taking over everything. When she's betrayed by someone close to her while there, she finds herself in serious danger. Her team is sent out to meet up with her and help her out, if they can keep from killing each other along the way. But the odds they face shock even this elite trained team of hunters. Getting out alive may not be an option for them.

The first third of the book is heavy on the back ground, a lot of information on the characters, their histories, the history of how the vampires came out to the world. It makes is slow going forward, but I didn't find it bad. I actually quite enjoyed learning it all. And the little bits of the main plot moving forward were really great. So while it was slow going, it was good. From about a third of the way in it starts to pick up, less background more forward movement and by the halfway point it was great, much faster, must more action. But it still felt a little heavy going. I think it's the amount of information, the way the story is told. It's written in third person, from many points of view. Jenn is the focus, but we get everyone elses story as well, adding the the amount of info floating around. It's good, great even at times, getting to know all the different characters, their pasts, why they fight as they do, what matters to them. It just never felt like a fast read. It's long, 470 pages, and despite having other things going on I did still finish it within a couple of days, so it read faster than it felt. There are also a lot of translation sentences. Spanish and a little Latin, where it's said then translated in full (which is great for someone like me who doesn't know either) but it does add to it sometimes feeling like it's slowing down.

That said, there is plenty of action. I really like the concepts for this world, the vampires, Cursed Ones, coming out, trying to rule the world, while pretending to be harmless when they're clearly killers. The idea of special schools or academies which train people, teens usually, to be hunters fits nicely and how they all have reasons for doing what they do. I really liked Jenn and Antonio, along with Skye and Holgar in particular. I actually really liked all of the team of hunters, but those four are my favourites at this point. All the back stories for the characters have been really thought out and developed, Antonio's fears, Jenn's lack of self confidence, they're all hiding things and it was hard not to feel sympathy for them and their actions at least some of the time.

The tension built up well, slowly at first but always there, and the feeling of constant threat grew to boiling point towards the end. It was intense, sad, great and left me wanting a lot more. Which, having just read 470 pages, is a pretty good thing! I've got my theories, concerns and hopes for what could happen next with certain characters and issues, but I'm at a loss to really know where it's going right now. Lots left open, but still with a satisfying end for this first book. Yes, it started off slow, but there was no point at which I wanted to really put it down or consider stopping. And I think all the info that is in this book, is very worth it. I really loved the second half of the book in particular, but overall I think it's a great read and I'm really looking forward to the second one.

Rating: 9/10

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Awesome Cem! I bought this one earlier this week when I had a really good coupon! Couldn't resist the sale!