☆☆☆☆☆ (0 stars)
Look, middle book trilogy stump is a thing, and it was especially defined as a thing thanks to the trilogy era of YA, first seen in the paranormal romance boom. Book one, they meet… book three is the final battle… What is book two?
Well, this book two is sort of like a short story collection with an overlapping cast. There’s no plot arc or drive to this book at all, which is frankly astonishing. There’s at least eight chapters (a large chunk of the book) which are loosely connected time jumps where our main character, Anna, goes to another country/state for a purpose, achieves it, and leaves.
We’re operating on levels of sheer non-plot structure that would blow anyone’s mind.
Over the course of… a year? Two years?? Anna gets sent on various missions by her demon dad to recruit allies after a ghost-nun tells her she’s a special prophecy Nephilim. Basically, at some point she’s going to be tested, there’ll be a final battle, and the redeemed demons (her dad) will get to go to Heaven and the evil demons will get stuck forever in Hell. Demon dad decides they need other nephilim allies, so he scouts out good candidates and sends Anna to recruit them to her side. That’s it. There’s no real ‘meanwhile’ to this- that’s it.
I’ll give a full plot rundown because there ain’t much of it, and when I read reviews for bad books I’ll probably never read, I like knowing all the gory details.
Anna’s been ‘working’, influencing teens to drink/do drugs, though she’s very conscious of it and worried for everyone’s safety at all times. Demonic spirits keep checking in to make sure she’s loyal and doing this, otherwise she’d stop. Kaiden has moved to LA and hasn’t spoken to her in six months. One day, a ghost nun shows up (the one from book one who died before she met her and left her an angel sword) and tells her the prophecy. She tells her dad, who decides to set up a lot of flights so that she can chat with other Neph and recruit them. He also decides she should travel with Kopano, the obvious not-love interest, so that’s going on.
First, she heads to Syria (this book is from 2013) to recruit Zania. This is quite the section in terms of me thinking ‘oh no’. And I was right to worry about this author and carefully handling any complex issue! Zania’s dad is the duke of hate, and he’s introduced something first implied, then confirmed as female genital mutilation to the area. Zania has had it preformed on her! Speaking of, a discussion of hate in the middle east, and a girl whose role in society is to promote hate, in the middle east… Zania, huh. Zania has a scene where she makes eye contact with a man in traditional garb having a serious meeting (…in a nightclub), he gets pissed at her for being a ‘temptess’, chases her out of the building, and tries to attack (rape?) her before being stopped by our heroes.
Hey! Serious subjects exist, yes, but can we agree this book (look at the cover. this. book.) is maybe not the place for discussions and portrayals of misogyny and FGM? Zania hates men, is implied to have been raped more than once, and is a serious alcoholic. They recruit her eventually, but she’s a bitter, angry mess.
After this (each section of recruiting ends with just a section break and time skip), Anna and Kope are sent to London to recruit the twins. Obviously they’re already on their side, so this is really just a filler/fluff bit where Anna and Marna gossip, chat, and get manni-pedis.
Next: Australia! Time to recruit Flynn, son of a duke of greed. He’s an MMA fighter who once was made to kill another boy on orders of the dukes. Here we have the first time in the book (out of at least two) where the characters spend a very long time not using their super hearing abilities because someone is having sex. Also, Anna and Kopano make out in a closet (more on this later).
Spring break happens (another new chapter/section/time skip) and literally nothing happens- Anna flies continuously to avoid demon spirits and talks to Marna more about love life gossip.
Now we enter summer, as Anna graduates high school and heads to California, where the ‘climax’ takes place. Here, a little past halfway, is the longest section of continuous chapters and time chunks in the book. Anna and Kaiden reunite and declare their love for each other, Kaiden and Kopano wear middle eastern disguises and buy Zania in a slave auction off page, the team goes to a private island but unexpectedly run into four dukes who’ve brought a bachorlette party out to bone done with, Flynn is shot and killed, and that’s it.
Alright, I mentioned this a little bit last book, but there’s again more iiiiiiifffffy race things in this book. The most outrageous is with Kopano- last book I complained him being the sole black character AND the one whose problem is deep, scary rage wasn’t very rad, but this book it gets worse. SOMEHOW. AND FOR NO PURPOSE AT ALL TO THE PLOT OR STORY.
Kopano has a secret. Back in the day his dad was the duke of lust AND wrath (for some reason?) and that like, means genetically some of his kids can inherit the sin he isn’t even in charge of anymore. And Kopano thus has double sins- a deep predilection towards wrath… and lust.
Like I said, ‘angry aggressive scary black dude’ is a real racial stereotype. You know what else is one? ‘Extremely sexual, can’t control self black man’. This book wraps both into one. Yes, Kopano is a quiet, gentle person… but he spends more time this book seething with/struggling to control his rage. In one particularly uncomfortable scene, he and Anna break their sexual tension (the book has informed me they have it) and make out in a closet. However, Anna pulls back not long in, and Kope takes A WHILE to stop. About a page, with three protests, before he can pull away.
Oh, unrelated to above, but Kopano also spends a page talking about how he wants to help people in his home with AIDS and the AIDS epidemic in general, which again feels really like the sort of thing included because he’s black and from africa, not some character backstory with any thought.
Moving on from Kopano… there’s a couple other points in this book. Obviously the middle eastern section isn’t the best- there’s no offense stereotypes out right, but some weird stuff with hijabs and cultural tensions. Zania, as part of her ‘hate inducing’ work, took part in a sexy photo-shoot centered more on her showing only a little bit of skin and taking off a hijab. Zania in general is a mess- when the evening prayer call happens she bitterly notes in her home she doesn’t pray, but will out in public to blend in. Way later in the book she’s in cali where they’re going to house her in a convent, and she asks Anna how to pray. Put a thinking face emoji here, because I’m feeling a distinct Christian message for this middle eastern woman who’s only able to find peace in a church.
In Los Angeles, we’re treated to something pretty unexpected (or, not): latino stereotypes! First, Kaiden helps win a teddy bear at a carnival game to a real latina stereotype (she’s described as wearing short-shorts with a black thong showing above). Then, a gang of five latino men corner him for bothering with ‘his girl’, and draw knives/guns. They are all wearing red (it’s… the bloods…. you know…. the traditionally black gang). Anyways, an angel intervenes when he tries to shoot Kaiden by making his gun backfire into his face. The gang members also use spanish phrases mixed with english and call Kaiden a gringo.
So, Kaiden’s not in a lot of this book, which is great. Thoughts of him are always present though, which is not so great. Anna will not shut up about thinking of, pining, loving, missing Kaiden. Kaiden begins by having moved to LA to put distance between himself and Anna, and hasn’t spoken to her for six months at the start of the book. She’s still holding the torch though, including reading into his band’s latest hit single because she thinks he wrote the lyrics.
They are very, very bad lyrics. They also reference ‘behind’, as this book series seems to do as a running joke/reality, because Kaiden is a confirmed ass man and I don’t like that I know that.
Anyway Kaiden shows up like a little before halfway to stand outside her house for a minute (she lives in Georgia, he lives in LA) before disappearing because some demon spirits show up. Then, ages later, she heads to LA and they deal with their relationships. He has this whole jealousy thing about Kopano and their kiss, he’s extremely insecure and annoying, they kiss or nearly kiss quite a few times, and then finally they spend two chapters just making out. For hours.
Literally, at one point they make out for at least 3 hours straight. JUST kissing and light touching- as Anna is worried if she has sex with him, she won’t be able to use the angel sword the dead nun left her (and that’s the only thing that can kill demons (though she’s never used it yet)). So they. Kiss. Endlessly. And say they love each other. Kaiden takes about five showers in the middle of this kissing-day to ‘cool off’, aka jack it, because he’s still extremely horny at all times. This section is, in fact, of course, extremely horny at all times.
Anyway, he continues to suck and be boring and flighty, and before vowing he loves her, does more of the fake ‘we can never see each other thing’, as if they have both forgotten entirely he did that like a week ago. One of the most bizarre lapses of memory comes late in the book, only like a couple chapters apart- Kaiden admits to Anna he was staying away because her demon dad told him to, and she’s hurt and upset. Later, demon dad tells Anna he told Kaiden to stay away from her… and she’s hurt and upset. It’s the same reaction and news, as if someone forgot to delete one of them.
Stray plot notes
There’s a character who dies in this book, but he’s such a non character, it’s meaningless. Flynn was technically introduced in the last bit of the first book in passing, and here he has two chapters to appear. He doesn’t make much of a splash. Inexplicably, he’s in Syria when the boys (in fake beards, turbans, and traditional clothes) are buying Zania from a slave auction and is noticed spying, which is what later gets him killed. This is treated like a big deal, when it really doesn’t matter.
While the crew is hanging on a private island, the dukes come by as mentioned to get laid. Kope and Kaiden listen in on this. To hide, the crew perches below the docks, in the ocean water- for like eight hours. The dukes have 5 mile hearing. They would’ve hidden on the island, like in any of the lush uninhabited woodlands, but the duke of lust is there and he’d smell Anna’s virginity. Evidently water hides the smell of virginity.
Anyways, because Anna didn’t bone done earlier, everyone gets hypothermia. Also at one point Astaroth brings a woman out to the docks to have sex with her on the boat and they all have to listen to that. There’s a lot of unintentional sex listening in these books.
Also Kopano accepts Kaiden/Anna are in love, though he obviously has feelings for her still. Then, Zania who hates men, asks him to help her recover from hypothermia by snuggling up, and… I guess that’s now a thing? Now they’re a thing?
Demon dad Beliel continues to be the only real highlight in this book, since he’s just ridiculous looking and actually has a spine and backbone, despite being a weak christian underneath. The twins also were mildly amusing and not a low point in this book.
Other stray note: Anna takes a bunch of self defense classes and learns to do knife throwing during the book time skip, but that matters in no way to the actual plot. There’s no real fighting or action going on, beyond one scene where she impresses Kaiden with her wrestling/knife-throwing skills.