Monday, April 11, 2011

Book (Series) Review: Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent

Book series: Soul Screamers (My Soul to Take, My Soul to Save, My Soul to Keep, My Soul to Steal)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Published: 2009-10 (with more to come)
Sources: Library (Books 1-3), electronic ARC from (Book 4)

Kaylee Cavanaugh doesn't have the best life in the world. Her mom is dead, her dad is AWOL, and she has to live with her obnoxious cousin. But she's doing okay. Except for the sudden urge to scream uncontrollably at the strangest moments. Even worse, when she screams, somebody dies. Well, crap. That won't do much for her popularity . . . or her sanity rating, if you want to be honest about it.

But what Kaylee thinks is a one-way ticket to the looney bin (been there, thanks, and she doesn't want to go back) is actually a gift. She's not human, she's a bean sidhe, or banshee, born with the ability to capture human souls with her screaming song to make sure they get where they're supposed to go. Even stranger, the one person who can clue her in on the ins and outs of her bean sidhe heritage is popular and gorgeous Nash Hudson. Hmmm.

Kaylee Cavanaugh doesn't have the best life in the world, but it's looking up.

I'm getting a little paranormal'd out here, people. Just a tad bit weary of Ordinary Girls with Extraordinary Powers, and the Mysterious, Beautiful Boys who seem to Know Everything (and Won't Quit It with the Ominous Hints, God, Just Tell Her What the Hell is Going On Already! It's called Communication with the Chick who can Save Your Heiney, helllllooooo). (Okay, that was a long and probably unnecessary parenthetical aside. But funny, I hope. Please tell me I'm funny and validate my existence.)

I'm also not entirely delighted with the number of adult authors hopping the bandwagon to YA. Said bandwagon being pulled by the Harlequin horse, and said authors being many, many romance novelists. I do love a good romance novel, but they're different genres for different audiences and skillz aren't necessarily transferable. Maybe I'm a bad person, but they definitely have to row hard to convince me to like these books.

All that being said, I'm really, really appreciating the Soul Screamers series from Rachel Vincent.

First, Vincent's really thought out her world. Her Netherworld and the people who slide back and forth across its boundaries are constructed with more stability than I've been seeing lately. Every time you think you've figured out the depths of the Netherworld (ha, see what I did there? I am funny!), you find out more, but the more is logically thought out and holds up next to what's been previously revealed.

Second, things from earlier books come back in later ones. Yes, teenagers can read analytically and they do remember details. And the books rarely end with Kaylee Saves the Day and everyone gets to go eat Cherry Garcia. Yes, the day is generally saved, for a certain value of saved, but there are people that can't be fixed, loose ends flying around, all this stuff that means Kaylee may have saved this day, but tomorrow is probably going to have to be saved all over again, in new and horrible ways.

Third, I love the Nash-and-Kaylee relationship. You see my cynicism up there about Mysterious, Beautiful Boys? I'm just so friggin' sick of Insta-Lurve and riding off into the sunset, and lucky for me, Vincent gives that a miss. There's a little Insta-Lurve in the first book (in fact, the first book is in a lot of ways the toe-dipper, and you don't really get the meaty stuff until the second one), but in later books, Kaylee and Nash don't just have snuggly-wuggly lovey times, they have a relationship. With problems. With issues. With real stuff that comes between them and you're not sure it can be fixed.

Finally, this series is going somewhere. The Big Bad (that's it; I'm cutting off my supply of capital letters) that's been around since the second book is clearly playing the long game, and just as clearly intends to make Kaylee one of his pawns. I have to believe she's a match for him, but it's a pretty even race, and that means that I'm waiting with bated breath for the next one. And you should be too.


Trisha said...

You're funny. :)

But then, I use semi-sarcastic overly long parenthetical asides a lot, too.

I haven't read the entire series, so can't speak to the Kaylee-Nash relationship overall, but I remember feeling underwhelmed by it in book 1. Like, it didn't feel essential to the story, though it sounds like this changes as the series continues. Definitely agree with you about the strong worldbuilding, though. And the feelings about the sheer number of romance authors also writing YA, and doubts about their books.

SORTA OT: Do you read much romantic suspense? I really like Jill Sorenson's single titles (haven't read her categories yet), and she is the one adult romance author whom I actually would love to see write YA. As in, would be totally excited if she ever did, though I don't think she plans to. Which makes me kinda sad, because I think she'd totally appeal to Simone Elkeles fans.

Bibliovore said...

Yeah, I was unsure about the series after I read the first book. I thought it was reasonably good but it didn't stand out to me with neon lights. But I read that a few months back, and then recently read the rest of the series within the space of a few weeks, because I had 4 for review and make a point of not jumping around in series. Glad I did, and I think the close reading proximity allowed me to see it as an overarching story rather than three separate books.

I've read some romantic suspense, but not a lot as a percentage of my non-kidlit reading. I've heard of Jill Sorenson, but never read her.

There are a few authors that I'd like to see take on YA--in fact, I'm tentatively suspending my skepticism for Lisa Cach's Wake Unto Me--but overall my cynicism is strong.