Monday, April 6, 2009

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (book) by Maggie Stiefvater

Deirdre is a gifted young harpist who, despite being good at pretty much anything she really tries, doesn't feel she stands out all that much. At the start of the book, she's about to take part in a big music competition, so she's off puking her guts up - she always gets sick before she has to play in front of others. This time around, someone finds her and holds her hair back for her. His name is Luke Dillon and, although she doesn't know him, she's seen him in her dreams. Luke convinces her to switch from solo to duet with him, and the two of them play beautifully (he plays the flute), but their relationship, of course, does not end there.

Luke is interesting, mysterious, sexy, and quite possibly dangerous. Deirdre is drawn to him in ways she isn't drawn to Jason, her closest friend (who she senses would like to be more than friends). Unfortunately, weird and scary things keep happening after she first meets Luke. Deirdre starts to see faeries everywhere, and she begins to develop special powers. The more time she spends with Luke, the more sure she is that she's fallen in love with him - unfortunately, he's a faerie assassin who's been sent to kill her. Why does the Faerie Queen want Deirdre dead, and will Luke defy the Queen for her or will he kill her?

I got this book through ILL after reading about it in the Unshelved Blog (here's the post I'm talking about - the post itself wasn't what convinced me to request the book, so much as the stuff I read when I clicked the link in the post). Unfortunately, I think I've been reading too many books of this sort lately, so I'm not quite as thrilled by it as Bill Barnes. By "this kind of stuff" I mean "young adult book in which the female main character falls for the sexy/dangerous/scary guy who is probably very bad for her." The bit where "female main character" is loved by a nice, charming, and probably much safer friend, a love she doesn't reciprocate, is also a little too familiar. On the plus side, this makes it easier to come up with read-alikes.

I wasn't always able to follow along with everything, due the slightly jumbled way some of the information was presented - since this book was written in the first-person, from Deirdre's perspective, Luke's secrets and past were revealed in dialogue, dreams (or maybe just one dream, I can't remember), and telephathically received memories. Of course, it's also possible that I didn't always care enough to make the effort to follow along. Like I said, there was so much of this book that seemed like other things I've read (like, say, Twilight - although I do think Stiefvater's writing is a bit better than Meyer's).

(You'll want to skip this next bit if you're avoiding big spoilers.)

I don't know what the next book will be like, but this book, at least, was different from the other ones I'd read in one big way - Deirdre doesn't end up with Luke at the end. True, it's possible that they'll end up together again in a later book, but at the end of this one Luke has fully become a faerie - if he's become anything like the rest of them, the love he felt for Deirdre is now only a memory and the Luke she knew is gone. I wonder how things will turn out between her and James. I wanted to beat Deirdre over the head when she actually considered letting James die so that she could have Luke. Poor James. Not only is his love unrequited, the bond of friendship he has shared with Deirdre for years is also apparently a bit weak.

Early on in this book, both Deirdre and James are invited to attend a special school (Thornking-Ash) filled with other musically gifted teenagers with special gifts (supernatural powers). By the end of this book, I figured the school would be the next book's main setting. I took a look at Stiefvater's website, and it looks like I'm right. Also, I know it's only a short blurb about the book, but the bit on Stiefvater's website makes it look as though James will get a chance to make the exact same choice that Deirdre had to make ("Should I save this person I've known for years from death, or should I save the sexy newcomer? Hmm, that's a tough one...").

Overall, this book was okay, but I was disappointed because I guess I was expecting more, for some reason. I wish Stiefvater had spent more time on Deirdre's relationships with people other than Luke. An argument Deirdre had with her mother had some potential, but Stiefvater ended up spending less time on Deirdre's mom and Deirdre's relationship with her mom than I would've liked. Also, James might have been Deirdre's best friend, but he barely got any story time. I think it would've been nice to have James around more, to balance out the Luke bits (and maybe heighten the love triangle tension?).

Read-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 romance between a human girl and a supernatural guy who both loves her and might end up killing her might want to try this. Like Lament, this series also has a love triangle.
  • War for the Oaks (book) by Emma Bull - Eddi has just left her boyfriend and their band. She is in the process of forming a new band when she gets drawn into the conflict between the Seelie and Unseelie Faerie Courts. There to guard her and make sure she plays her part is a phouka, a dangerous man who can sometimes become a talking dog. Those who'd like something else in which a musically-talented female main character gets drawn into the dangerous world of faeries might want to try this.
  • Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (book) by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon - Eric Banyon is a talented and melancholy street-busker. It turns out that his skill with a flute is more than ordinary - Eric is a fledgling Bard, and his music can work magic. His abilities attract all kinds of attention, both good and bad, and he ends up teaming up with Beth (who is, among other things, a witch) and Korendil (an elven warrior). Once again, those who'd like something involving music and faeries might want to try this. Plus, if I remember right, there's a love triangle.
  • Soulmate (book) by L.J. Smith - This is the 6th book in Smith's Night World series. Hannah thinks she's going crazy - she keeps finding notes she doesn't remember writing, written in her handwriting, telling her that she's going to die before she turns 17. What she discovers is that she's an Old Soul, someone who's been reincarnated many times. In many of those times, she fell in love with a vampire (named Thierry in her most recent lifetime), one who also may possibly have had a hand in her deaths. Those who'd like another young adult romance in which the main female character is drawn to a potentially dangerous, sexy supernatural guy might want to try this. Luke reminded me a lot of Thierry.
  • Blood and Chocolate (book) by Annette Curtis Klause - Vivian is a werewolf, part of a small community of werewolves living in secret among humans. Vivian's father, the pack leader, was killed when the pack was driven out of its previous home, and all that remains is for a new leader to be chosen before the pack can move to a more permanent home. In the meantime, Vivian doesn't really feel at home with anyone in the pack. She begins dating a human, but how long will their relationship last if she tells him what she is? Even worse, people have been getting killed and Vivian can't be certain she wasn't responsible. Those who'd like another supernatural adventure/romance for young adults might want to try this. I think Klause and Stiefvater also share somewhat similar writing styles.

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