Aug 30 2010
Dear Ms. Miller,
Being a part of what has become known as ‘The Penguin Five’ must build a lot of pressure on you. The Penguin Five are being shopped as some of the best releases to come from Penguin’s various imprints in the next five months, and your book is the leader of the pack. It’s also the start of a new YA paranormal romance series. Ever since I heard about The Penguin Five, The Eternal Ones has been on my radar as a reader. Reincarnation and finding lost love? It’s my kind of plot, and I feel like you do a fair job of it.
Haven Moore has lived in Scope City all of her life. Her grandmother, Imogene, is a religious zealot, and her mother is a doormat. Ever resourceful, Haven manages to bring some life and rebellion to her life in the extremely conservative area of Scope City by designing and making prom dresses with her best friend, Beau. Haven and Beau have been outsiders from the beginning – Haven for having strange visions of a girl named Constance from 1920′s New York City, and Beau for being gay. They are a motley duo that everyone else ignores. Haven’s visions stopped soon after the death of her father and his supposed mistress, Veronica, years before.
With her 18th birthday less than a year away, Haven is ready to leave Scope City, and the clutches of her powerful grandmother, forever. But then she gets a vision. One of the boy who makes her knees weak. Who fills her with the overpowering feeling of love. Ethan Evans. He’s clutching Constance, and it starts a chain of events that slowly tears at her life in Scope City. Beau is by her side, but Haven soon finds more resistance than ever. She can no longer go to school, and her grandmother is convinced she’s possessed by the devil. The discovery of a box of written conversations between her and her father leads her to think otherwise. Even as a toddler she had mentioned Ethan Evans, and his life with her past life, Constance. With a mention of a society advocating Reincarnation – the Ouroboros Society – Haven sneaks off to New York City, leaving the world of Scopes behind.
New York fascinates Haven, but her real goal is to meet millionaire playboy Iain Morrow. Ever since she saw his picture on the television, she felt connected to him. It would only be natural to suspect HE used to be Ethan Evans, just as she used to be Constance. But the move to New York brings other issues onto Haven. The possibility that her relationship with Ethan in all of his past lives has been a lie. Not only this, but the Ouroboros Society feels that she may be an asset, and will do anything to get her to join. Especially with the information she has concerning her past lover, Ethan.
The Eternal Ones is a strong debut that manages to be consistently good in pretty much every area possible.
If there is one part of the novel I liked overall, it’s Haven Moore. For a main character that could have gone so wrong, she (usually) went right. She could have easily been a doormat or a character with no personality like some young adult paranormals. Instead, Haven is a spunky character who knows what she wants but manages to be resourceful about how she gets it. From the beginning of the book, Haven is mature and hardworking; starting her own dress making business and saving up the money to go to design school. She knows how to use her talents. Whenever she gets a whiff of trust issues, she isn’t afraid to get her information. She has some relationship ignorance, but has a lot more brains than not. Haven also had actual skills and hobbies. Like her dress making. It made her more interesting, but it didn’t seem tired or cliche.
Iain Morrow, however, was not as easy for me to like. Well I enjoyed his romantic side and the way he could easily make things seem better, I felt like his dishonesty with Haven was a little rotten and odd, considering they both felt comfortable right away because of their history as lovers through the ages. Protection of the Ouroboros Society and its secrets was an understandable reason, and he did it all for the good of Haven, but I felt like he lied more than was necessary to the relationship.
Secondary characters worked a lot better for me. Haven’s best friend, Beau, was probably one of my favorites. He is a major gay character that has some issues of his own, but still helps Haven keep on track and offers some common sense along the way like a real friend would. While there was some issue with his sexuality and their home town, your attitude towards Beau was very genre-fiction in tone. He didn’t question it, and he was fine with who he was. I would have liked to see him with some type of romance himself, but overall he was written very well. Grandmother Imogene was also really fleshed out, with equal parts zealot and concerned grandmother thrown in. She reminded me of the grandmother from Flowers in the Attic with her religious obsession, but she wasn’t creepy so much as tortured. It worked well, and gave the book an interesting dynamic.
Your writing worked well enough for what the book is. There wasn’t anything obviously compelling about the voice or narrative, but it still manages to pull the reader in. What some writers would have turned into a pretty average read, you turned into something that must be finished as soon as possible. Some spots still managed to lag, and I felt like the constant cycle of Iain lying, Haven finding out, Iain apologizing and giving some reason, and the two of them making up, was wearing thin. The end of the book hyped up the suspense considerably, though, and kept me interested. I also liked the questions it brings up regarding the feelings of true, soul-mate inspired love, and how honesty can affect a relationship. It also ended solidly enough for the reader to stop if they didn’t want to continue the series, which will attract some readers.
The Eternal Ones, while not perfect, is a step above the average teen paranormal read. The characters are vibrant and interesting, and the relationship and writing bring on some interesting themes to contemplate. It’s compelling and the plot is frothy and managed to exceed my expectations. Fans of paranormal romance will be interested in picking this one up. B
All the best,