Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Soulmate (book) by L. J. Smith

Warning: spoilers in this post.

Hannah is convinced she's going crazy - she keeps finding notes she doesn't remember writing, written in her own handwriting, telling her that she'll be dead before she turns 17. In desperation, she turns to a young, inexperienced psychologist who eventually tries hypnosis on her. While hypnotized, Hannah talks about wanting someone she shouldn't want, a dangerous man named Thierry who has killed her in many lifetimes and who happens to be a vampire. Not believing any of it and not expecting much, the psychologist has Hannah go back to the time when she first met Thierry, which turns out to be the Stone Age. Thierry was the first made vampire (Maya, the first lamia, made him - a lamia is a born vampire, although Maya was actually born a witch), and his inexperience results in the death of Stone Age Hannah and nearly her entire clan.

Hannah and Thierry meet in Hannah's most recent lifetime, and she instantly recognizes him as her soulmate, a discovery that become distressing when she recovers memories of him killing her in other lifetimes. However, it's not until later that Hannah realizes it wasn't Thierry who killed her, but rather Maya, disguised as Thierry. Maya hopes to end things once and for all by turning Hannah into a vampire and killing her - vampires can't be reincarnated. Now that Hannah knows Thierry isn't out to kill her, she rushes off to find him, flying to Las Vegas and eventually making it to his mansion (Thierry, being one of the oldest and most powerful vampires in the world, is filthy rich). She's not even there a full night before she's kidnapped by Maya and must try to survive (and not get turned into a vampire) and free herself.

When I was a teen, this was my favorite book in Smith's Night World series - now, it's my second favorite, since I'm not into the whole "soulmates across lifetimes" thing as I used to be (for those who are wondering, my favorite is now Daughters of Darkness, which I've also written about). Thierry's also a little too angsty for my tastes now - I guess I'm getting older, huh?

Still, I'm betting that Thierry will appeal to a lot of teen girls. He's rich, he's good-looking, he's completely and unwaveringly in love with Hannah (and very protective of her), and he's constantly sad and guilt-ridden (guaranteed to make girls want to hug and comfort him). All of that certainly appealed to me when I first read this book, back when it was first published in 1997.

Hannah's pretty appealing herself. I can't really think of any weak heroines in Smith's books, and Hannah's no exception. When Hannah realizes that she was mistaken about Thierry, instead of sitting there and hoping he'll come back to her, she takes charge, borrows money from a friend, and flies off to Las Vegas to go looking for him. Granted, this was a little silly of her, since if Smith had handled things a little more realistically, Hannah wouldn't have managed to find Thierry's place quite so quickly. It was also a bit pathetic that Hannah managed to get herself captured after only a few hours at Thierry's mansion. However, once she's been captured, she doesn't go into hysterics after realizing that Thierry probably won't be able to find her and save her. Instead, she frees herself, makes a weapon, and might have managed fairly well if it weren't for her primarily pacifist nature.

I'm not really sure how accurately presented Hannah's past lives are. There doesn't seem to be anything too jarringly wrong about the Stone Age portion of it, although the way Smith writes about Hannah's (or Hana's) clan's diet makes it seem as if they eat a lot of meat - from what I remember from some of my anthropology classes, Stone Age people would have been more likely to have a diet rich in other things, with meat as an occasional and welcome treat (but I could be wrong, of course). I also wonder how common blonds were in ancient Egypt, since Hannah was supposed to have been a blond priestess then.

Before I wrap things up, I'd also like to mention, as a fan of Daughters of Darkness, that Ash makes an appearance in this book. He's not around much, but he gets enough time to be a little sarcastic and a little pensive (thinking about Mary-Lynnette, his own soulmate, who he is trying to become a better person for). Several characters from other books in the series also show up (James and Poppy, Thea and Eric, Gillian and David, Quinn), but Ash happens to be my favorite of the bunch. It's possible that he's Smith's favorite, as well, since I think he got more lines than the others.

Overall, I liked (and still like) this book. Pensive vampire-human romance, hurray! As I've said before, it's just too bad that Smith's Night World books are so short (and that Smith hasn't gotten to publish the ending to the series yet).

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Twilight (book) by Stephenie Meyer - Bella doesn't expect her move to the small town of Forks to be at all exciting, until she meets Edward Cullen. At first, Edward seems repulsed by her, but eventually the two of them can't seem to stay away from each other. The more time Bella spends with him, however, the more odd things she notices about him, leading her to the impossible conclusion that this boy she is so drawn to is actually a vampire. Those who'd like another young adult vampire romance might like this book, the first in a series.
  • Magic's Pawn (book) by Mercedes Lackey - Vanyel has never seemed to fit in with his family, especially his father. All he wants is to become a Bard, but his father is determined to turn him into a warrior, even if it kills him. After the situation at home takes a turn for the worse, Vanyel is sent to live aunt Savil. While there, Vanyel eventually realizes he's attracted to Tylendel, Savil's male protege, and that the feeling is mutual. At first it seems like the only thing the two have to worry about is others' homophobic reactions (especially Vanyel's father), but a feud Tylendel's family is involved in may turn out to be an even more dangerous problem. Obviously, not everyone will be comfortable with this book, but those who'd like another book with a strong romantic storyline and a "soulmate" aspect may want to try this out. There are other books set in this world that also feature soulmates (a soulmate is called a lifebond here), but not all of the books feature a romantic storyline quite as strongly as this one. Another of my favorites set in this world is Arrows of the Queen, the first in a trilogy that eventually features a heterosexual lifebonded pair and may therefore appeal to a wider audience.
  • Daughter of the Blood (book) by Anne Bishop - Among the Blood (magic users) women rule and men serve. Usually, this is a harmonious and balanced system that benefits both sexes, but there are those who have perverted this system so that men are enslaved and young girls who might grow up strong are broken. If she can manage to grow up, Jaenelle could heal the rot in Blood society. Her family thinks she's unstable, and growing up and growing strong won't be easy, but she has some powerful allies on her side: Saetan, the High Lord of Hell (and, confusingly for some readers, a good guy) and Daemon, a dangerous (and sexy) man who's been waiting for someone like Jaenelle to come along for much of his long life. This series is not for the faint of heart (there's abuse, torture, rape and more) and is definitely not intended for young teens. However, those who don't mind something with a darker tone and who'd like another story with magic and a bit of a "soulmate" aspect might enjoy this book, the first in a trilogy.
  • Vampire Knight (manga) by Matsuri Hino - Yuki's earliest memory is of being attacked by a vampire and then saved by another, the gorgeous and mysterious Kaname. Ten years later, Yuki, now the adopted daughter of the headmaster of Cross Academy, spends her time blushing over Kaname and protecting the Day Class students (all humans, unaware of the vampires around them) from the Night Class (all vampires). She is aided by Zero, a brooding teenager hiding a dark secret. Those who'd like another young adult vampire romance (with a nice helping of angst) might enjoy this manga. It has also been made into an anime which has not yet been licensed in the US. With vampires being so popular right now, though, I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

1 comment:

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