Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Wicked Kiss by Michelle Rowen

Title: Wicked Kiss (Nightwatchers #2)
Author: Michelle Rowen

Pages: 448
Published: February 26, 2013

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Book Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars


*This review contains spoilers for Dark Kiss, book 1 in the series!*

Wicked Kiss picks up about one week after the it's predecessor, Dark Kiss.

A week after the Hollow opened up and swallowed her best friend Carly, Samantha Day is trying to take her life back. She's on the hunt for Stephen; the guy who stole her soul with a kiss, thus making her what she is: a Gray. Samantha can barely make it through a day without trying to suck out someone's soul. The most tempting soul of all? Bishop's. The angel who isn't supposed to have a soul at all. The angel who is slowly losing his mind because of his soul. Dealing with this temptation is the least of Samantha's problems. You see, Samantha is also a nexus; half angel, half demon. This is something she's must keep hidden. If the angels find out that she is a nexus they will kill her without hesitation.

One of the abilities Samantha has as a nexus is to spot the search lights in the sky that signal an angel or demon arriving on Earth. Bishop and his team were supposed to be the only ones sent to deal with the Gray problem in Trinity, but that is about to change. One night, after a tough situation where she accidentally stole a piece of a schoolmate's soul, Samantha spots another light in the sky.

Upon following the search light, the group finds Cassandra—a gorgeous blonde angel. Sam is wary of her, and for good reason. Cassandra isn't telling them the whole reason she's been sent to Trinity. Not only that, but Cassandra seems to gravitate toward Bishop; shows him extra attention and touches him at every opportunity.

But jealousy takes a back seat once Sam finally tracks down Stephen. During their exchange, Stephen reveals a terrifying piece of information about the fate of being a Gray. Sam's situation has instantly become dire, and in the end, she may not have time to save Carly, Bishop, Trinity, or herself.

- - -

Alrighty, let's jump right in, shall we?

I would love to have given this book 5 stars, because the the story alone deserves it. However, I had to knock one star off because the author made me angry. At one point, Samantha is musing about how, as a Gray, she can now attract more male attention than she could before she turned. To emphasize that this is a big deal, Rowen has Sam describe her appearance. “Even at five-foot two, with brown hair, brown eyes...” — “I now got hit on daily.” - I sort of took this personally; that someone who is short, with brown hair and brown eyes, isn't pretty? Isn't appealing? I am 5'2". I have brown hair. I don't consider myself unattractive in any way. Why does this have to be the paradigm of what is unattractive or unappealing? This book is geared toward teenagers. Teenagers! They are still in a stage of life where they are very impressionable and possibly insecure; a delicate time. Especially girls, right? I just think it was a very uncool thing to do. Even such a small thing as one sentence in a book really could hurt someone's feelings or make them feel less than beautiful.

Anyway, end tangent.

This novel was a mind-blowing follow-up to Dark Kiss! I just do not even know where to begin!

I guess I can start with the plot development. This book has so much information, new and old, packed into it! Rowen reiterates some of what happened in Dark Kiss, but not so much so that she is practically retelling the whole book via info-dump. She just lays out all the important details in perfect succession.

New characters are introduced in this book. Not only do we have the newest angel, Cassandra, but we also have Jordan. Jordan is the popular girl at school, and Sam's arch-nemesis. Jordan was Stephen's girlfriend when he kissed Sam to thieve her soul. Stephen then broke things off with Jordan. Jordan doesn't know of Stephen's Gray status; doesn't know that the break-up was for her own good. Jordan is a character I instantly fell in love with. This is the type of girl I wish Sam was. Sam can be a bit whiny. Jordan is the say-it-to-your-face, feisty, bull-headed, confident, gorgeous, smart girl that I wish every heroine could be. So yeah, needless to say, I love the heck out of her. Cassandra was also a great addition to the story. I like the complications she brought along with her. Not only is there jealousy flying all over the place, but Cassandra harbors a secret. She knows why there are random suicides going on all over the city. She has a personal hand to play in the matter. The extra bit Cassandra and Jordan bring to the story keep this from being just a romance about two people (Sam and Bishop) who are bad for one other, but can't seem to stay away from each other, regardless.

Along with the new characters, there is a new evil. Well, sort of. It's a newly revealed evil. I can't give away too many details because that'd totally spoil it, but you'll be very very surprised! Like, jaw-resting-on-the-floor surprised. Really. REALLY. Twists galore! Revelations aplenty! And it all comes at you without expectation. I love that I did not predict most of what happened in this book. Easy to predict equals boring as hell. Unpredictable equals edge-of-your-seat, which this book SO was. I could barely contain my excitement at each chapter!

The relationship between Bishop and his demonic brother, Kraven, was explored a lot more in this book. We learn why Kraven hates his brother. We learn how each of them came to be what they are; angel and demon. We learn all about their pasts, their family, and their actions. The truth will surprise you and leave you heartbroken. These two sort of remind me of Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries. Total love/hate relationship. Banter, guilt, sexiness.

As for the ending... I am confused. I've read that this is the last book in the Nightwatchers series (or should I say duology?). I was surprised to hear that because this book didn't feel completely wrapped-up to me. I feel like there should totally be at least one more book! :( I am in denial here. There has to be another book! If not, I will cry. Kraven needs to be NOT be a demon. He doesn't deserve to be a demon. He isn't bad! He can't stay a demon. *cries* I also don't like that (if this is truly the last book) we didn't get to learn more about Sam's nexus abilities. I really thought we would see a battle of some sort. I thought that we'd get to see Bishop defy Heaven and Earth to protect and save his nexus lover. Why don't I get to see this?! *cries more*

Oh man. Give me a spin-off or something! PLEASE, WOMAN!

The last thing I want to comment on is Rowen's ability to build a world so flawlessly. The entire story and setting were easy to envision. This story is a unique take on angels and demons, as well as Heaven, Hell, and the in-between. The line between good and evil is not so clear when it comes to the angels and demons in this series. They work side by side when there is a threat to the balance of light and darkness.

A kiss that can steal your soul; that can turn you into a beautiful monster.

All in all, Wicked Kiss was a fantastic read, and a fantastic sequel to Dark Kiss. The plot is complex and perfectly laid out. The characters are well developed and interesting. The paranormal element is unique; an exhilarating step outside the proverbial box. It has everything. Romance, good vs. evil, suspense, drama, angst, sorrow, surprises, humor, redemption, etc. Rowen knows how to tell a story. She knows how to keep you guessing. She knows how to weave multiple plot elements together pretty much flawlessly. She also gave us a happily-ever-after with a twist. It wasn't predictable, and I enjoyed that. I would definitely recommend this book, as well as it's predecessor, to anyone who loves a good YA PNR. :) A definite addition to my favorites list!

~ 4 OF 5 STARS ~