Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ethereal Underground by Brooke Kennedy & Briana Gaitan

Ethereal Underground
Author: Brooke Kennedy & Briana Gaitan
Publisher: KDP
Pages: 293
Release Date: November 13th, 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an
honest review.

Can the person who was sent to steal your soul, be the same person who steals your heart? 

The keepers are protectors of the planet Cabalin, charged with defeating identified enemies and preventing other planets from waging war on their dying planet. They are expected to keep their emotions in check and do as they are told no matter what the consequences. One of their rising warriors, however, has been placed on sabbatical for reasons unknown to those around him. Rebellious, impulsive, and moody, Ash has continued to break the rules by frequenting the Ethereal Underground, the seedy hang out in the eighth layer of the planet. Ash has always believed in the keeper’s cause, but his taste for adventure always seems to get him in trouble. 

The seraphs live on a different plane of existence. They watch over the mortals and reap their souls when it is time for them to depart to the afterlife, but do not associate with the beings otherwise. They are duty bound and loyal creatures, each of them having an affinity for a force of nature that they can use when needed. When a seraph breaks the rules, they are banished and stripped of their affinity. These evil creatures are named the fallen. Annalise, a reaper seraph blessed with an affinity for water, has always followed the rules until she is called to reap Ash’s soul and take it to the afterlife. This time, however, she finds it difficult to take the soul. 

Their worlds were never supposed to meet. Now everyone’s future is in jeopardy, their lives turned upside down as they find themselves on the run from the very people they thought they could count on. The two of them must search for a way to clear their names and hunt down the evil forces of the fallen, without losing themselves or those they hold dearest. This epic fantasy will take you on an exhilarating quest for love, truth, and revenge.

When I saw this cover for the first time, I was instantly drawn to the book. There was something mesmerizing and enticing about the picture, and once I started reading, the story itself was just as interesting. I liked Ash, and while it took me awhile to feel comfortable in the setting, by the end of the book I had really come to like the world. Ethereal Underground was part adventure, part romance, and offered a fun read that was different from many of the books I've picked up lately.

Despite the praise, there were some things that felt problematic to me about this novel. While the writing was fairly good, there were a few places where it really felt like it fell apart. Action scenes in particular were a little sloppy to me: the prose didn't flow, descriptions fell flat and I just got lost instead of getting drawn to the edge of my seat. There was also a really annoying repetition about eye-color that felt unnecessary. About half-way through the book, I started cringing every time I heard about Anna's 'blue eyes'. As a reader, it makes you want to yell "I know they're blue!" every time the color shows up. 

There were some transition issues in a few places, that just could use some ironing. For instance, when Ash has a meeting with the Officials, I had to back track because I had no idea where the change of clothes came from. One minute he was wearing borrowed clothes, then he was at the surface wearing something with a Keeper symbol on it. 

Anna's dialogue was hard for me to read at times. It shifted between being proper, to sounding like she didn't know English very well. Like this sentence: “I do not know exactly what you are meaning." (Page 82). It just doesn't feel believable when it's that choppy. I also found it hard to understand how much she knew about humans. In the opening it said she never saw one in person, but she was watching them in the globe to learn gardening. She mimicked wiping the sweat from her brow so obviously she's been watching for awhile to pick up on that, but she didn't learn any of the language and is still super oblivious? I felt like there were a lot of questions created by that scene. 

There were also a few word dumps. In the opening, things were really smooth, then we suddenly get different species being defined all at once. On page 21, there was a giant paragraph that jumped all over the place. It was talking about the globe, then emotions, then back, and I felt like too much information was shoved into one space. Every time I hit a rough patch of text I was disappointed and started to loose interest. 
In the end, there is potential here, lots of potential! But the version I was reading just needed more work.  One of the upsides about some of these problems is they are easily fixable, and the authors already seem to be working on improvements for the next editions. 

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