Saturday, January 1, 2011

Captivate by Carrie Jones (Book 2 in the Need Series)

Captivate by Carrie Jones
Zara and her friends thought they'd solved the pixie problem. And they did- sort of. The pixies are all locked away, deep in the woods. But the king's needs grow stronger each day that he is in captivity, while his control over his people weakens. and it's enough to draw a new king into town. Astley claims he is different. He claims there are pixies who can live peacefully with humans, that it doesn't have to be all violence and nastiness all the time. Zara wants to believe him... until Astley also claims that she is fated to be his queen.
 There is no way Zara would ever turn pixie. And she's got good friends who will make sure of that. Besides, she and Nick are so in love they're practically inseparable. But when the very thing Zara wants to protect most is exactly what's at risk, she is forced to make choices she never imagined. - Cover Flap for Captivate

I first read Need maybe a month ago in one night. It was good, but sort of an average paranormal fantasy teen read. The only things that really stuck out for me were the horror/ suspenseful moments and mentions of Stephen King. I wasn't really that interested in the 2nd book. (The first book ended cleanly enough that it could have been a stand alone book and not a series.) However, I had the 2nd book, Captivate from the library so I figured I might as well read it.

I'm still puzzling over how I feel about it.

Let me explain. I feel that either before or during the time Captivate was written, Jones matured as an author. Subsequently, her manuscript matured too. Mythology was added for the pixies, more action scenes were developed, evil plots and elements of real horror appeared; culminating in a wonderful book, that I like, but am not that excited about. It might be because this book is very young adult. Basically it drips with teen sarcasm, angst, martyrdom, mania and relationship issues. That is wonderful for teens, but for people like me, the "too young to be a full adult, too old to be a  true teen"  minority, it's a little much.

Speaking of maturity issues, Zara, our half-pixie princess develops quite a bit during Captivate. She faces many tough decisions which have the potential to seriously screw with or improve her life. Some of them even have the power to change who she is to the core, like how she thinks and what she believes. While the outcomes might be daunting or downright horrible, Zara manages to stay true to herself, dealing with her mistakes and accepting responsibility. Of course she's a drama-queen about some of it. (Who wouldn't be when deciding whether or not to change species?) However, I have to give her kudos for dealing with everything in a mostly adult manner.

Now, onto the mythology. Valkyries, Odin, Fenrir, oh my! We're dealing with the Norse pantheon here. For those unfamiliar with Norse myths, here is an exceedingly simple crash course. Feel free to research further as this is a very basic explanation.

Odin- King of Norse Gods, ruler of Asgard, associated with wisdom, war, battle and death.
Asgard- Odin's territory, where Valhalla is.
Valhalla- where heroes go when they die, in order to be one of the 800 warriors which will fight in the war to end the world.
Valkyries- carry the warriors to Valhalla, have wings. Seen here. Example: Thurth. (those ladies with armored boobs and winged helmets that are always in cartoons, usually as opera singers)
Fenrir- Massive wolf who tries to swallow the world, ending it. This is what Odin and the warriors fight against, the end of all days, AKA Ragnarok.
Ragnarok -"Final destiny of the gods." Everyone fights everyone over the final destiny of the world.

I'm thrilled that the Norse Pantheon finally gets some recognition in fantasy books. (Usually it's all about the Greek or the Roman or Egyptian gods, which isn't bad, but I find it pretty limiting. ) However, because Norse gods are not generally widely recognized, Jones had to spend a bit of time explaining the main points of the system. She did it very well, all of the explanations made sense and flowed as well as any mythology can. Though after reading an entire first book without any Norse myths that I could see and having the second one practically overflow with them was confusing. I wanted to suspend my disbelief and go with the Valkyries and Odin's hall, but the myths and the characters didn't seem to mesh. It's like knowing someone has been in your room and touched something, but you can't figure out what it is; that "something has been messed with here" feeling. True, the myths add a new, more interesting level to the book, but I could never get rid of that hinky feeling.
  Devyn and Issie get more action in this book than Need. They're less the "research sidekicks" and get down and dirty with everyone else. I'll admit Issie is a little ditzier and vague than I'd like, but she still rocks out like any teenage misfit. Devyn is his cool, calculating self but takes protection and responsibility a bit too far. Nick is still bossy, controlling, loveable, hero-complex Nick. But, you get a bit more insight to his back story and family life in Captivate. Betty, Ms. Nix, Zara's mom and biological father make occasional appearances, but this book mainly features 3 new characters. The Valkyrie Thurth, the infringing pixie king, Astley, and miss mysterious Cassidy who won't stop scratching.

The story as a whole is average, but the end brought me up into this mildly hysteric bubble of happiness where I'm eager to get my hands on Entice (3rd book). If anyone is reluctant about buying Captivate, I'd say to hold off on getting it until they can read it all the way through or get it from a friend or library. And when they get it, read it completely for the end. It'll be worth it.

Overall, Captivate managed to be a good sequel to Need. I may have a few minor problems with the story, but it's still a compelling series. Maybe there's something magical about it that keeps me coming back. It's fantasy, but so interwoven with reality that it's pretty easy to go along wherever the story will take you. It's not a rush read, but if you need to kill a few hours, it'd be a good book to pick up. (As long as you've read Need first. ;) )

Teaser lines: "He smiles. It's a wicked smile. Kind but not kind. Handsome but Dangerous. Feral almost. I can see why Nick nearly killed him. Nick..." - from front cover flap

Series order:
1. Need
2. Captivate
3. Entice (released Dec. 14th in the U.S.)

Happy reading,
-My Summer Girl

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