Becoming (Daughters of Saraqael Book One)

Becoming - Raine Thomas I first picked this book because of its cover and somewhat intriguing blurb, not to mention that I'm always up for discovering new authors (published or indie--there are real gems in indie too); but now I'm not so sure what to make of it. I can't exactly say that I didn't like it at all, only it doesn't completely reach the "it was OK" mark for me either.

I think I would have liked it if the story had been closer to what the blurb got me to think. "Every three years, Amber Hopkins explode" would have made up for an excellent in medias res beginning, something that would have prompted the action and then the revelations in an interesting way. Unfortunately, things dragged for too long. Although the romance between Amber and Gabriel was sweet and beautiful, there was too much time wasted in everyday little things, what each character is wearing, and this goes on until the end of the book. The 'bad guys' really started intervening some 30 pages before the end, which came too late to my tastes--I'd have appreciated seeing more action from them, especially since the girls were told they were in danger in the human world too. I never really felt the pressure they were supposed to enact.

I found most of the characters hard to relate to, and rather cliché too. Some were just too perfect (Amber, Gabriel), some too detached (granted, it's a cultural trait), and mostly who they are was told rather than shown (there's actually a chapter in which the girls' strong points and shortcomings are described in front of a crowd...). The villains looked cardboard-like, maybe because they didn't get much screen time, so to speak, which doesn't usually make for strong development. Add to this a definite feeling of mary-sueness: everyone gets eyes that change colours, wings, super long hair for some, powers, strength... and accepts all of this a tad bit too quickly. By that point, I was rolling my eyes, I admit.

The Estilorian society had its interesting sides, and I liked the idea of how they developed parallel to humans, offering another explanation to the 'gods' and 'demi-gods' that were said to walk the Earth in times of old. I only regret that their tribal/caste/groups organization was a little too complicated to grasp all in one go, and might have been better kept to 3 or 4 groups only. Even by the end, I couldn't tell who was supposed to do what and why they were in that specific group. Unfortunately, some things here also added inconsistencies to the book. For instance, the Mercesti were mentioned, they seemed to be a class of their own; then they were simply those who wanted the sisters killed; and then they wanted to recruit them (so what happened to the "kill the half-bloods because our blood must remain pure"?). There were also a few instances where I wasn't sure where the whole Estilorian society was supposed to stand: though they had many angel-like traits, what I appreciated was that they *weren't* angels, yet later there's mention of a sword cursed in Hell, which throws an angels/demons manichean veil over the whole thing.

As for the ending, it didn't do for me. Too cheesy and cliché to my tastes.