REVIEW: Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian
Dear Ms. Adrian:
I finished your book at 12:28 a.m. on November 11. I know the exact time because when I was done reading the book, I ran to my computer to type out my thoughts – to try to capture the emotional high I was on when I finished reading the book. I am sure that I won’t do justice to the book. All I can say is that I recommend this book and that I will buy 5 ebook copies of it to giveaway to commenters today. I believe in it that much.
I first have to apologize for comparing your Breed series to Ward’s Brotherhood series. I hadn’t examined the worlds close enough but having read this book (and having gone back to read the second which I passed over), I realize that while there are similarities there are many, many differences.
Elise is a breedmate, a special human born to be the mates of vampires. The vampires of this world are born of an alien race thousands of years ago. The breedmate is a special bond wherein the women choose to whom they wish to bestow their bodies, the blood, and their love. She was bonded to a respected man of Darkhavens, the community of vampires that exist and do not kill to take blood. The Darkhaven community is a respectable society governed by a blend of feudalistic/militaristic tendencies. Elise’s mate died five years ago. She has not taken another lover since then, nor has she taken any blood for a breedmate to take blood from a man is an intensely physical and sexual experience.
By refusing to take blood, Elise has essentially chosen to die. She will begin to age and live out a normal, human lifespan. She chooses this route because she loved her husband and because she would rather not be a breedmate to one that she does not love. To worsen things, Elise’s son became a victim in the Rogue v. Breed battle when he became addicted to Crimson, a drug developed just for young vampires. He was shot down in front of her and so Elise leaves the haven of vampires and goes into the human world to seek out Rogues and kill them one by one, if she has to. Elise is an important part of the book and not merely a receptacle for the love of the hero. She has her own battles; her own angst.
Tegan is a centuries old vampire who is engaged in an epic, but heretofore semi secret battle against vampires who have lost control and gone rogue. In order to preserve the safety of the existing vampires, Tegan and a number of others, work to eradicate these Rogue vampires. The war is not without casualties. Tegan’s mate was stolen from him, raped, drained to the point she became a Minion, or servant, of one of these Rogue vampires. She is returned to Tegan, physically alive but emotionally and mentally gone.
The merciful thing to do is for Tegan to kill her but he cannot kill his beloved. Instead, Tegan attempts to keep her alive by feeding her more and more blood which makes his own demands even greater until his capacity for control is eroded. His band of brothers lock him away and the leader puts Tegan’s beloved out of her misery. Tegan realizes that her death was the fault of the Rogues and he rededicates his life to the war but cuts himself off emotionally.
As the heroine comments, Tegan’s cavalier treatment of her is not cruel, because cruelty would require him to feel. The story that unfolds is how Tegan begins to realize that the greatest loss of the past centuries wasn’t his beloved, but cutting himself off from everyone. First desire and uncomfortable lust begins to rise to the surface, desire for blood and sex, and then, finally, love.
The connections between the breedmates and the chosen vampires were intimate and bound in an almost ritualistic formality.
Respect for the act of blood-bonding between vampire and Breedmate demanded that both parties come to each other without concealment, coercion, or reservation. Naked in body, commitment, and intent.
When Elise is confronted with the fact that her decision to die was one motivated of self pity rather than sacrifice, she realized that she would have to take blood and she asks to use Tegan. Essentially, she asks for Tegan to be her food, her source of blood without the corresponding emotion. As he correctly points out, this is very disrespectful of her.
I thought it was a great twist on genre conventions to have Elise be the user; to be the one who has a savage beast that needs to be soothed. Tegan, on the other hand, is a Breed warrior and is viewed with disdain by the cultured Darkhaven denizens. He is in the role of being the social misfit and believing that he cannot fit into Elise’s world, even if he wanted to. These small conventional twists made me appreciate how subtle-y nuanced the story was.
This is really where you excel. From the descriptions of the glyph tattoos which develop as the vampire ages to the formality of the breed-bond to the big bad(s), everything is plotted out carefully. There is no deus ex machina that swoops in to save Elise and Tegan in the fight against the Rogues. There is collateral damage and not everyone is saved. The ending had a big surprise for me that I didn’t at all suspect but fit the world you created and set up the next book perfectly, without sacrificing the bigger picture.
My biggest complaint was that there was a bit too much of the “see how happy my previous couples are”. I think that some of those scenes could have been eliminated and the story wouldn’t have suffered a bit. In grading this book, I looked back to see what I had given JR Ward’s books because I felt that this was superior. I hate giving an A grade and I think because I had a complaint, I can’t give an A. But it’s way close.
Note to the readers: I’d like to throw down the gauntlet to Ward fans. Read this book, Midnight Awakening, and tell me it doesn’t grab you by the throat, make you shiver, wet your eyes, and clutch your heart in all the ways that Ward did in the past and maybe even better. Challenge me in the comment section that I can’t change your mind because I was a skeptic once like you and I’m now a convert.