Placement in Series: Book 1
Author: Ednah Walters
Seventeen-year-old Raine Cooper has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s disappearance, her mother’s erratic behavior and the possibility of her boyfriend relocating. The last thing she needs is Torin St. James—a mysterious new neighbor with a wicked smile and uncanny way of reading her.Review:
Raine is drawn to Torin’s dark sexiness against her better judgment, until he saves her life with weird marks and she realizes he is different. But by healing her, Torin changes something inside Raine. Now she can’t stop thinking about him. Half the time, she’s not sure whether to fall into his arms or run.
Scared, she sets out to find out what Torin is. But the closer she gets to the truth the more she uncovers something sinister about Torin. What Torin is goes back to an ancient mythology and Raine is somehow part of it. Not only are she and her friends in danger, she must choose a side, but the wrong choice will cost Raine her life.
(Psst: This gets slightly spoilery, so take caution if you're reading this review and haven't yet read Runes. I felt the need to use specifics to back up a few of my opinions. But I don't spoil anything too big - and if I do, I'll put another spoiler warning before the spoiling sentence/part. I promise.)
I'm conflicted about this one, my dears. I really loved the story and the characters, but the writing was just not doing it justice. Wanting to know what exactly Torin was and where this story was going to go is what made me keep reading, but there were many times where I had to roll my eyes at the narrative and re-write sentences in my own head. Being a budding writer myself I'm sure made me critical; I want to be able to spot these things in my own writing. But I'm a reader as well, and there were scenes in this book that fell flat because of their written delivery.
The first thing I noticed was how many times the main character, Raine, thought to herself 'Magic isn't real.' It was as if the author wanted to constantly hint to us 'Psst, hey reader. She keeps saying magic isn't real but guess what? This is foreshadowing, because it is real!' again and again and again. I got the message that there was magic in this book by the title alone; I don't need constant hints. I only needed Raine to think it once. But there were times when her physical actions had me knowing what she was thinking - that magic isn't real. I don't need to read her thinking it ever second page. That's what body language is for. It was something that I found to be really annoying. Thankfully, once Raine realised that 'hey! Magic is real!' it stopped.
I thought the incorporation of Norse mythos - something not seen in many books, especially YA - was awesome. Greek mythology is everywhere, so it was a really nice change, and since I have always had an interest in mythology, it was fun learning about Norse and seeing the spin the author took on the mythos. She did a really great job with it, and I'm curious to see what else she incorporates in the second Runes novel.
Unfortuately, while I enjoyed the plot and the mythos, I felt the plot was poorly delivered, and there were some definite holes and scenes that were not written to their fullest potential. Some character reactions were absent when they shouldn't have been. (Slight spoiler alert:) When a handful of characters close to the protagonist all died at once, she barely reacted. Granted, you could chalk it up to shock, except that she knew it was coming, and while she had other things to deal with, I just could not believe that she wasn't even going to shed a tear. Then when (SPOILER ALERT - skip to next paragraph to avoid this one) her father returned it was treated as if he had only been gone for a week - not missing and assumed dead for months!
The romance was done well on Raine's side, and I was rooting for her and Torin. My only reservation with their relationship was that I just did not understand where Torin was coming from. It was insta-love on his part, and while I shipped it, I did not believe it for most of the book. Another thing (oops, did I say reservation as in singular?) on the topic of romances was (SPOILER ALERT - skip to next paragraph to avoid this one) the complete and total cop-out that seemed to brew between Raine's boyfriend Eirik (awesome spelling) and her best friend Cora. I get it. They bickered for the entirety of the book, and I guess they could have sprout feelings from there (although constant bickering does not always mean flirting!), but there were absolutely no hints to their spark at all that it felt like it was thrown in completely to help out Raine deal with how she was going to dump Eirik. It pissed me off that Raine was cheating on Eirik to begin with, but now she gets an easy out because she's suddenly noticed that Eirik has eyes for Cora? No, sorry, not buying it. The fact that we made it to the end of the book without Raine ending her relationship with Eirik also bothered me. Is this so that she can continue to use him while she pines for Torin? *frowns deeply* Colour me unimpressed.
As for that ending... The cliffhanger was brilliant, and I'm sure I would have squealed or reacted a lot more had I not been again distracted by the poor delivery. The idea is so juicy and (positively) throwing-my-book-against-the-wall-because-DAMN-THAT-ENDING-worthy that the delivery failed to, well, deliver. It's difficult to explain exactly what fell through for me about the ending without spoiling it completely, but it has a lot to do with character reactions and how right after the book just ended. If not for the 'The End' right afterward, I'd have fully expected an epilogue or one more chapter or something.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story in this one, but the writing was just... not there. The character reactions and relationships did not always feel genuine to me, and what would have been a great cliffhanger was overshadowed by a failed and sloppy delivery. It feels like Runes could go through another draft (at least) or two. Still, I did enjoy the story enough to want to read the second book. It was interesting, and I liked the incorporation of Norse mythos. Do I recommend? Yes, if you can look past the sloppy writing and focus on the plot at hand, I think anyone into the mythology/paranormal genre will enjoy Runes. I did - there were just a few things that stood out negatively for me.
Rating: 3/5 - If not for the writing, it would have been a higher rating (obviously). I wanted to rate it higher, of course, but there were some things I could not look past.
Recommended for: Anyone who loves the paranormal and mythology genres, and enjoys some fun romance with it as well.