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REVIEW: Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

Dear Ms. Adrian,

Book CoverIn November, Jane reviewed your novel and threw down a gauntlet to the fans of J.R. Ward. When the first novel of your Breed series was released, I admit I read the first chapter in the bookstore and then put it back on the shelf. It didn’t grab my attention and even then I was glutted on vampires. But Jane’s review and the ensuing comments piqued my interest. After all, it’s better to improve as a series continues than the alternative.

Jane provided an excellent summary of Elise and Tegan’s story in her review, so I’m going to cheat and skip that part. First of all, I’d like to address the comments about similarities between the world of the Breed and that of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. I agree there are a few on a superficial level, but I also think there are some major differences at its core. Sometimes I wonder why there’s so much focus on how alike your two series are when I don’t recall there being much discussion when Ward’s series first came out about how some of her characters bear striking resemblances to characters featured in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. Frankly, there are just so many vampire books out there today that it’s difficult to be 100% fresh, new, and original. The Breed series coming out after the Black Dagger Brotherhood hurt it in this respect. Is that fair? No. But it might end up becoming a permanent hurdle.

What sets this book apart, and where it excels, is Elise. It’s very refreshing to find a strong heroine with her own problems and issues, who’s more than a match for the hero, and whose story does not get overshadowed by his. Elise is not a character who sits around and waits at home for Tegan to do his fighting and saving. She’ll do it herself, thank you very much, and I really enjoyed that aspect.

But here’s where we come to that little thing called reader preference. Midnight Awakening is very tightly focused on the developing relationship between Elise and Tegan. Some readers like that. I’d even hazard a guess and say that most readers want that. That said, that same focus makes the story simpler and less complicated. And the truth is I don’t like simple and uncomplicated stories. They’re a good way to pass the time, but they don’t linger and they certainly don’t stick in my mind one week later. It’s been a couple weeks since I read this novel and while I remembered how much I liked Elise and her determination to avenge her son, I actually had to look up her actual name while writing this review because I forgot it. Not exactly the sign of a book that wowed me.

When it comes down to it, I don’t think it’s really an issue of the Breed series being better than the Black Dagger Brotherhood or vice versa. It has more to do with what a reader wants. While I haven’t read the other two Breed books, based on Midnight Awakening, I’d recommend your novels to readers wanting a simpler paranormal/vampire story that’s strongly focused on the relationship between the hero and heroine and that places them both on equal footing. But if a reader wants multiple plotlines, the kind you’re more likely to find in a sprawling fantasy novel, and isn’t necessarily attached to the idea of the main couple always taking center stage, then Ward’s novels are probably a better fit.

So while I enjoyed Midnight Awakening, I don’t feel the need to run out and buy the other books in the series. My basic preference will always lean towards that of a fantasy reader than any other genre reader, and what I’ve always wanted in my books is the feeling that the fictional world portrayed exists beyond its pages. I just didn’t get that sense here and when I finished the book, I was done and that was it, end of story. For all its numerous (numerous) flaws, I can’t say the same for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I’m willing to forgive a great deal if there’s something that keeps my interest and in that case, it’s those multiple plotlines running through every book.

In the end, I regret to say I’m not a convert. While I’d be willing to read another Breed novel if it piques my interest, this was enough to satisfy my curiosity. B-

My regards,
Jia

This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

13 Comments

  1. Janine
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 18:08:16

    I haven’t read this book yet, nor any of Adrian’s, so I can’t comment on that, but I have read Ward’s first four books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and I wanted to chime in and say that one of the things I really enjoy about that series is the multiple plotlines and characters which give the books in that series more scope than many of today’s romances have.

    It used to be that, in decades past, books were longer and had more characters and plotlines, and while I enjoy today’s tighter and more focused books as well, I also miss those longer, more intricate books of yesteryear. They seem to be making something of a comeback though, at least in the paranormal subgenre – J.R. Ward, C.S. Wilson and Meljean Brooks all have popular series with lots of characters and a fully realized world. I’m kind of hoping to see the same thing happen in other subgenres of romance too, without displacing the one-relationship focused book.

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  2. CourtneyCarroll
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 18:23:25

    I’ve read all of Lara Adrian’s books and honestly only becuase J.R. Ward endorsed the first one. I *heart* JR’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I think there are some similarities between the two series. But I agree with Jane that the series themselves are VERY different for the reasons Jane states as are each of the individual books. JR’s books keep building upon each one before it more and more with very detailed and expansive secondary story arcs, multiple POVs etc. Lara Adrian’s books tend to focus more on the main couple (something I think regretfully was lacking in “Lover Unbound” Ward’s last BDB book) and the external conflict is far less central to the books than in Ward’s.

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  3. lightlyfell
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 18:33:12

    I agree so much. While I loved this book, and have read the first two, they don’t satisfy me the way Ward’s do. (Disclaimer: I didn’t like the ending of LU, didn’t like many things in LU, and will stop reading the series after Phury’s.) I loved Elise and the interplay between the two main characters, and am awaiting Diego’s story very eagerly.

    However, when I want a comfort read, when I want to lose the world, I pick up a BDB. And like potato chips, I cannot stop at one. Next thing I know, I’m rereading the whole series, no matter what else is in my TBR pile. I’m a paranormal fan, I try to read them all. And NO other series hooks me like that.

    Adrian’s books are well-written, I like the world-building a lot better. (No lame Scribe Virgin, yay!) But Ward, she’s the one.

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  4. Jia
    Jan 17, 2008 @ 19:15:45

    Janine: When I first finished Dark Lover, I recall wondering if that had really been a romance I’d just read. Up until that point I’d only read one-relationship focused paranormals, so I was jarred by the difference. But the difference was comforting and familiar to me because it’s what I’m used to in my fantasy reading, so I liked that.

    Even if the worldbuilding is not nearly as consistent as it should be.

    lightlyfell: I appreciate the consistency and logical reasoning of Adrian’s worldbuilding as well. Ward’s is so random and conflicting without even getting into the issue of the Scribe Virgin who can wave her hand and fix everything. And yet, like you, I find myself getting lost in the BDB world anyway.

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  5. Keishon
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 00:05:03

    I need to read this :::chanting to self:::

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  6. LesleyW
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 02:47:01

    I think Lara Adrian’s series is improving with each book. So it’s definitely one I’m following. In a way in MA she’s almost the reverse of Ward, I found Elise to be a very strong heroine, but Tegan so strong and silent, not so memorable a hero.

    I don’t want to put any spoilers here, but my main annoyance with MA is what happened to Marek. In book 1 (Kiss of Midnight), he had all this potential to be a great villain, he didn’t really make an appearance in book 2, and by book 3 he’s reduced to a stereotypical bad guy. It feels like such a wasted opportunity.

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  7. Jia
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 03:49:07

    LesleyW: Since I haven’t read the previous two books, I can’t comment on how effective and/or non-stereotypical a villain Marek was, but one thing I did like was how Adrian switched things up at the end. It was refreshing.

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  8. Meriam
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 08:38:32

    Whilst I enjoyed this book, I didn’t find it memorable. I haven’t read Ward (first three at home, waiting to be read, very excited), so I can’t make any comparisons. But I liked the freshness of this series; the bonding element had an interesting twist and I liked the mix of new tecchnology with the old school elements Vampirism.

    Although I liked Elise, I do get tired of ‘psychic’ heroines. You know: feeling pain, hearing thoughts, dreams that tell the future, visions… sigh. It’s so tired. It’s so (old)Star Trek. But that’s me.

    I can’t wait to start the BDB. The other vampire series I’m currently reading – Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn – is pretty good too.

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  9. Jane
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 09:36:08

    One of the reasons I liked MA book so much better than Ward’s is because of the lack of interseries connectivity. It made it easier for me to follow a book without having to read the entirety of the series. Plus, we spent more time with the couple so that I could truly believe in the romance. In Ward’s books we get only a quarter of the book, at best, devoted to the main couple.

    Ward appears to have copied her formula from Suzanne Brockmann. Ultimately, the reason why I stopped reading Brockmann is the reason I will stop reading Ward and that is her intertwined storylines do not provide enough romance and in Ward’s case, while her characterizations are strong, her world building has been decimated by her own writing decreasing my interest in her connected threads.

    Viehl’s series is all over the board for me. I loved the first one and really enjoyed the third. This most recent one is seriously flawed. I felt like Viehl wrote herself into a corner and took an easy way out without appropriately addressing the issues she had spent so long building up.

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  10. Jia
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 09:44:53

    The Darkyn series is an odd one for me. Normally I like interseries connectivity, but those books don’t work for me at all. It might be the writing that puts me off. I have no idea.

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  11. Meriam
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 10:54:03

    Viehl's series is all over the board for me. I loved the first one and really enjoyed the third. This most recent one is seriously flawed.

    I’ve only read to book three, which I liked a lot. Dark Need is winging its way to me via Amazon and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope it doesn’t suck, because I’ve ordered book 5, too.

    Jia, I’m surprised at how much I enjoy Viehl. I like her crisp, tight writing, I like her dialogue and I like her heroines. All that might change, but so far so good.

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  12. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 23:48:24

    I agree with Jia that Adrian writes a more traditional romance, with the focus on the relationship rather than peripheral characters and wacky world-building. Not that I don’t like Ward’s over-the-top insanity, but Kiss of Midnight made me MELT. It’s one of my favorite romance novels of all time and I’ve read thousands of them. The second in the series didn’t work as well for me but I enjoyed Elise and Tegan’s story very much.

    Love Lara Adrian’s world. Love the jasmine, rose and heather, or vanilla-honey-whatever scented blood. There is a grace and tenderness here that adds depth to the fierce characters.

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  13. Trudy
    May 17, 2011 @ 00:32:45

    I found that Adrian uses words to describe the unique character of each hero.. like “damaged” or “tough”like Tegan, for example, but without those words to introduce the character, their actions do not set them apart from one another. If you mixed the characters’ names up in different stories you wouldn’t FEEL who they really are. I didn’t FEEL that Tegan was some crazy tough guy. This is why I love J.R. Ward’s books. Simply saying one character is from Italy and says an Italian word, while another throws a Spanish word in here and there doesn’t make them all that different.

    by the way.. can you say what a let down that hunter and mira are not going to be mates? really?? what were you doing this whole time?

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