REVIEW: Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian
Dear Ms. Adrian,
In 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-