August 13, 2010

Eternal Flame? (Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller)

The Eternal Ones
Kirsten Miller
Razorbill 2010

Haven Moore has always known she's different: there are the talents that can't be explained; the knowledge of places she's never been; and then there are the visions that overwhelm her - terrifying visions of a life that ended tragically two decades earlier and more than a thousand miles away in New York City. The citizens of Haven's rural, highly religious community, believe that she's been possessed by a demon. But this is no demon: it's reincarnation. Haven journeys all the way to Manhattan in search of clues about her past life and a decades-old murder. One wrong move could lead her into the clutches of the sinister villain at the center of a conspiracy much larger than she could have ever imagined. But if she makes the right choices, Haven will find the answers she's been seeking her entire life. (blurb courtesy of Amazon UK)

Had I not been afforded the opportunity to review this book I, in all probability, would never have picked it up due to its rather ugly cover. Anyone who says that they do not judge a book by its cover is either lying or a better person than I am. The whole red, black and gray colour scheme did nothing for me and it annoys me that what is meant to be snake swallowing its tale is actually a snake eating some sort of random wiggly line. I didn't like it at all. In actuality, had I continued to ignore this title I would have missed out on a well written, funny and latterly chilling read. I am sure that there is a message in there about face beauty etc. but I don't feel like moralising. Today.

The plot is fairly straight forward – Haven Moore has had visions all of her life of what is instantly recognisable (to the reader, if not immediately to Haven) as a past life. The story is fast paced and well written, moving between the past and present with an easy skill that prevents the two story lines from ever becoming convoluted (although I did find Haven's present life a lot more interesting than her previous incarnation as the rather inane Constance). The author cleverly weaves the many different aspects present in both of Haven's life together in a thrilling denouement that left me with as many questions as it answered – not a bad thing in the first book of a series. The Ouroboros Society is an extremely sinister creation that is all wrong on so many different levels. I look forward to learning more about them in the next installment.

Character wise, Haven is a bit of a winner. She copes well with being an outcast in a small town, managing to get by in school without making enemies (or many friends, but ho hum). She is funny without being overly snarky (a welcome break from many snarky, if fabulous, female protagonists of late). I particularly liked her single-mindedness - she always follows her gut, but has the grace and good sense to admit when it has led her in the wrong direction. As her best friend, Beau is a lot of fun and also provides a much needed voice of reason to proceedings. It is interesting to see how he copes with being the sole homosexual in an intensely religious town. Iain, as the promiscuous play boy who may or may not be the love of Haven's past life, is probably the character whom is most lightly drawn. This can only be intentional as it is the ambiguity of his character that fuels the story at large. Haven's relationship with him vacillates from intense passion to equally vehement distrust and it is this fluctuation that was the high point of the story for me.

The Eternal Ones has been touted as a mix between Twilight and The Time Traveller's Wife and I have a real problem with this. Firstly it is nothing like The Time Traveller's Wife apart from the aspect of two characters who are destined to be together, but even that is clutching at straws when you actually consider the fact that one story is about reincarnation while the other is about some sort of genetic time-travel ability. Secondly, it is a shame to see yet another YA book be chucked onto the Twilight bandwagon. While there is a similar theme of a teen girl being helplessly drawn towards a man who may or may not be dangerous, that is where it ends. Unlike doe-eyed Bella, Haven continually questions Iain's motives for locking her up/having her followed/watching her sleep/drinking her tears (oops, those last two were just Edward – of course you wouldn't question anyone about those). The author should be applauded for creating a “Bella” who actually has some brains and a decent sense of self preservation. The Eternal Ones is not another Twilight – it has originality in spades, a heroine who knows how to look after herself (although whom doesn't always do it terribly well) and a storyline that sent shivers down my spine and leaves me with no idea as to where the author will take us next. Ignore the ugly cover and comparisons to other books and give this one a go on its own merit – you won't be disappointed.

Thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy of this title to review.

6 comments:

Lauren said...

Really interesting review here. I feel like I've seen this one around online quite a lot without ever actually knowing what it's about, so your review has definitely enlightened me. This sounds pretty fascinating, and like it has something to add to the genre, which is always welcome. I like the sound of Haven.

thebookfairyhaven said...

Loved your review. have to admit that had I not read the synopsis of this book I would have ignored it because I also dislike the cover. I'm looking forward to reading this when it comes my way! Glad you brought up the whole books being compared to Twilight issue, because this is something that irritates me to no end. And for me, this doesn't even sound vaguely like it at all.

Nomes said...

i really dont like the cover either. doesnt look YA. doesnt appeal to me at all. i guess i should get over that after reading your review :)

i'll be on the look out for this when it's out in Australia.

asamum said...

I am looking forward to reading this one. That snake on the cover actually means something - I think it is to do with immortality but I cant quite remember exactly what it is :(
Great review

Rhiana said...

I've picked this up and put it back so many times...think I'm going to go for it after reading you're review.

The Time Travellers Wife and Twilight comparisons are very annoying. They are what they are....let other books be themselves too!

Clover said...

I'm quite looking forward to reading this one. I do agree with you on that awful cover AND the comparisons to other books. I'm with Rhiana - let the book stand on its own rather than being held up by some other book.