Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Covet



Covet by J. R. Ward

Source: My mom loaned it to me.

Can one find angels riding Harleys (apparently shirtless) or playing crickett and talking with English accents? Do demons truly prowl our waking life, waiting to get a hold of us and give us lots of shiny stuff and fabulous sex? These are the questions I found myself NOT asking after reading Covet. Questions I did ask: is Trez a supernatural creature, or just the nicest pimp ever? Shouldn't Vin have lost all his rich stuff? And, if Jim has to save seven souls, and this is presumably a seven-part series, doesn't that mean at least three of the books will be total fails? Cuz I'm not sure I want to read those three.

But I get ahead of myself, as usual. Covet is the first book in JR Ward's Fallen Angels series. Ward is more famous for her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, which is about vampires, and which I haven't read--so I had no idea what to expect from Covet. Although, I have to admit I expected more than what I got.

The set-up is this: Good and Evil are getting tired of going back and forth in their struggle for dominance on Earth. So God decided that one person will have the chance to save or damn seven souls, each afflicted with one of the seven deadly sins. When it's over, the side with the most wins will have total control of Earth for eternity. I feel compelled to point out that this outcome makes noooooooooooo sense on either a theosophical or quantum level, but whatever.

The person chosen is Jim, a character whom I loved. Jim works construction, and at first he seems like your average joe, if a bit of a loner. As the story continues, however, it becomes clear that Jim has an extensive backstory as well as a dark side. Although Jim wants to save the world from evil, one can't help but wonder if his methods will prove more damning than his intentions.

In the first book, Jim has to save Vin diPietro, the owner of the site where Jim is working construction. Vin is super-duper rich and has a beautiful girlfriend to go with his perfect life. Unfortunately, as Jim belatedly realizes, Vin isn't supposed to be with Divina--he's supposed to be with Marie-Terese, a club hooker. Luckily for everyone, Vin realizes this all on his own. Hooray, the world is saved. OR IS IT?!

I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about this book. The majority of it was humorous and fun, and aside from Jim, I loved the characters of Adrian, Eddie, Dog (although why Dog is even there is a mystery), and the other angels. I can definitely see how Ward's books can be addictive. But there were other elements of the writing that just bugged the heck out of me. For example, Ward has this habit of writing a question as a statement. I can see where this might emphasize a flatness of tone, but she uses it wayyyyyy beyond the point to where it has any useful intonation. And what was with calling Vin's girlfriend, "his woman," or "your woman"? WTF? Oh, sorry, let me rephrase that: WTF. How caveman can you get? I kept expecting them to follow it up with, "Woman pretty. Man make good hunting. I drive big noise machine home now. Argh! *chest beating*"

There are larger issues I had with Covet, too, mostly with the characters. At first Vin seems fairly interesting, but it turns out he has no personality at all. And Marie-Terese--uhg, can you say cookie cutter character? The hooker-with-the-heart-of-gold strikes again. I don't have a problem with prostitute heroines as a rule (although it's seriously icky for a romance novel), but I do want to understand and sympathize with her decision to get into that line of work. I did not get that with Marie-Terese. I might have respected her more if 1. she wasn't dragging a little kid around with her, or 2. she didn't hate what she did, or 3. she didn't turn into a mound of putty every time Vin showed up. And the explanation for why she got into hooking in the first place (which came way too late in the book) only made things worse. Major Issues train coming down the track! If I was Vin, I would start running.

Covet was okay, but has major problems with execution. It just didn't feel like the author entirely thought it out before writing it (and I don't mean that in an avant-garde, experimental way, either). There is a certain charm to the book--especially when it comes to Jim's character--that might have me coming back for more. It's definitely not a book to turn me into a JR Ward fan, though. As Colin the angel put it, "There is a point in every endeavor when one feels the burn of too many vertical steps." Unfortunately, I felt that way more than once while reading this novel.

And now for the big question, the entire reason I decided to read Covet in the first place...

angel button

Are angels the new vampires?

In a word: no.

While reading the summary, you might have noticed something. Or rather, the lack of something. That's right, angels! Although the series is titled The Fallen Angels, no angels, fallen or otherwise, make an appearance before page fifty. And even after that they don't play much of a role until the very end. So to call this series The Fallen Angels seems something of a marketing misnomer. It also makes it hard for me to judge if they're "the new vampires." But from what there was of them, I'd say no. Vampires are compelling, sexy, and dangerous--from what I've seen of Colin, Bertie, and the gang, they are none of those things.

As for the fallen angels, they have potential (although they are not dangerous), but I have many unanswered questions about them. Why are they fallen? What exactly is a fallen angel in this alternaverse, anyway? And while angels aren't exclusively Christian figures by any means, I find it to be simply wrong that these angels perform Pagan-ish rituals. WRONG. And kind of lame. You couldn't have come up with something better, Ward? So far I'm not impressed with the angels' powers--not by a long shot. Angels at the very least should have either awesome cosmic powers or kick-ass fighting skillz. And wings. These angels got nothing. They better pick up their game if they expect to even be equal to vampires on the literary circuit.

Score so far: vampires 1, angels 0 (vampires win by default whenever angels fail to impress me)

Next up in my ├╝ber-scientific test: The Fallen, by Tom Sniegoski

Other opinions about Covet:
Smexy Books
Dear Author
The Good, the Bad, and the Unread
Darque Reviews
Love Vampires
Alpha Heroes
Did I miss yours? Please let me know in the comments!


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