Raven: Allison Van Diepen

Wish I could give the darn thing 2 and 1/2 stars.

Plot – Nic is a HS girl and part of a break dancing troupe. She works at a bar on weekends where her sort-of boyfriend works. He’s a little older but a great dancer and a little mysterious. He doesn’t mind that all the other members of his dance group are in HS and he’s not. Nic has a “ghost” (which I thought had potential until we are told that it’s not really a ghost just that’s how she thinks of her drug addict brother who moved out but still sucks mom and dad dry). Turns out Zin is one of a group of immortals, lead by Carlo. And the immortals are Jiang Shi. Carlo had a vision that Nic will lead the Jiang Shi to a new existence and wants her to become one of them. And there are hunters after the Jiang Shi.

It had a few things going for it – it was a really quick read. As in, took me about 3 hours to read. The star-crossedness isn’t the primary focus of the relationship between Nicole (aka Raven) and Zin. It’s a unique take on the immortality “thing” that is goin’ on in all these YA novels. And the end was fairly satisfying. There are a few loose ends, but if there’s never a sequel (or if there is and I don’t feel like bothering), it won’t be nagging me the way I feel nagged when ever I catch a re-run of the tv show Las Vegas (remember that one?) because it ended on such a cliff hanger. Maybe a bad example, but it certainly demonstrated my point.

The bad things – well, a few of them were really pretty bad. The writing didn’t have much emotion to it at all. The narration was very cold and choppy. I felt like I was reading one of those Dick and Jane books that they used to print to teach kids how to read (“I got out of bed. I ate breakfast. I got dressed for school.”) And the relationship between Nic and Zin had so much potential but they really didn’t spend enough page time together to feel like there was anything between them. Except we were told about 5 times that Nic loved him the moment she saw him and he was dancing at the time. That’s not exactly depth to their relationship. Then there was the break dancing lingo. It was worse in the beginning then later and I found myself skipping paragraphs because I don’t know the moves and their names and it felt like a waste of pen space.

As for the mythology – it was almost as if the writer heard of these types of people but did no research. Heck, she could have made up the mythology for all I care, but it was so superficial the way it was dealt with. I would have loved to have felt like there was more conflict – so that the end felt more satisfying. Even the stuff with Nic’s brother was almost too easy and there was no real emotion in the story. The who Jiang Shi story just sort of fizzled out. The whole book and the immortality story line felt rushed. The book was less then 300 pages, big type and big line spacing. A little more to the story, both the love story between Nic and Zin as well as the mythology and the resolution to it, and a little less “see jane run” could have easily turned this into a 4 star book.

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