Thursday, 10 May 2012

Fated - Alyson Noel

PAGES: 464
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Children's
FORMAT: Paperback
BUY IT: Waterstones
(This review is of a proof copy edition)


Strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, glowing people appear from nowhere. Worried that Daire's having a breakdown, her mother sends her to stay with the grandmother she's never met, who lives on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico.There Daire crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes. Her grandmother recognizes Daire's episodes for what they are - a call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, a person who can navigate between the living and the dead. Guided by her grandmother, Daire must be quick to learn how to harness her powers, because Dace's brother is an evil shape-shifter, out to steal them. Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and discover whether Dace is the guy she's meant to be with ...or if he's allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.

Fated is the first novel in Alyson Noel's new Soul Seekers series. You can find my review for the first in her previous series The Immortals, here

I wasn't the biggest fan of Noel's previous series, it felt naive and amateur, the writing a little weak, so I was weary when beginning to read this one. Actually, it was ok. I warmed to it more and more as the story evolved. The writing seemed brighter, stronger somehow. I found the characters more rounded, less stock pawns for the storyline and more like real people.

The basic storyline follows 17 year old Daire; a sweet girl, quite grounded and actually very likeable. Her mother, whom she refers to by her first name, Jennika, is a make up artist for Hollywood movies and therefore they both travel to wherever her skills are needed. When Daire starts to see grim visions she is sent to live with her grandmother in the town of Enchantment, New Mexico. 

As Daire reaches New Mexico the story really starts to come alive. It easily mixes Native American and Spanish/Mexican mythology and brings a brilliant spiritual flavour. There are many moments when the storyline could become a little ridiculous, and I'm not saying it doesn't, but actually I didn't care. I had a lot of fun with this book. In some respects it is a story about a girl who wants to find her family and where she belongs. Even though the teens in Enchantment are jealous of the amount Daire has travelled, she yearns to put down roots and start the life of a normal teen. I really liked the idea of her finding her ancestors and finding where she comes from. Even though Daire is presented as an adaptable young woman, I felt she adapted a little too quickly to living with her grandmother - it's not just a new town, it's whole other layer to her life. 

The visual aspects of the story are really what kept me interested. Even though there are moments when both the reader and Daire feel trapped in Enchantment, the visions and manipulation of settings (without giving too much away) make sure you don't become bored of the same of scenery. The inclusion of the Mexican 'Day of the Dead' is brilliant - I love anything thats a little more graphic and Noel is certainly stepping up her game in this area. There are little moments of gore than made even me want to look away.

Of course, there are your typical 'boy' moments, enter soul-mate and accidental stalker. It does start to tick off lots of boxes from the 'stock elements in YA fiction' list but I didn't mind. I don't know if my initial weariness made me settle for thinking the book was better than it was because it wasn't as bad as the Immortal series, but it doesn't really matter. I didn't speed through sections and I'm quite interested as to where the story is going to go.

The reason I only gave Fated three stars was because I wasn't overwhelmed by it. It didn't blow my mind and it didn't make me think about myself or the way I live my life. But that is only my personal criteria for ratings. There are plenty of people who would like this series, and is suitable for slightly younger teens, too. It's a good bit of fun.

The second book in the Soul Seekers series, Echo, is due out 22nd November 2012.

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