Embrace (The Violet Eden Chapters, #1) – Jessica Shirvington

Embrace

“I walked right into the tornado to meet my lion and I knew then that my virtue was never letting weakness rule me.”

Source: Bought and Signed Personally By Author
Title: Embrace
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Published: October 1st 2010
Pages: 382
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Angelic Folklore
First Line: “Birthdays aren’t my thing.”

Synopsis: 

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

I originally bought this book at the start of the year, along with Disruption by the same author at my school’s literature festival. After sitting in at one of the author’s sessions and hearing her speak about writing, it’s safe to say that a healthy level of intrigue had been acquired. Shortly after, I had them signed and they were then shelved among the hundreds of other books piling in my bedroom. However, recently after binging on the classic genre I thought that it would be nice to return to the sweet comfort of the YA realm for a bit and thus, I picked up Embrace. 

Many of my friends absolutely love this book series, and as it was an angel novel how could I not? However, in this case it was one of those times where you turn the last page of the book, put it down and sigh disappointedly.

Now don’t get me wrong – the book wasn’t the worst book that I’ve ever read, nor was it among my blacklist of books. But considering all the praise I had heard of the book I was left feeling very underwhelmed. Nevertheless though, it had its strengths and it had its faults, which I shall discuss now. 

I had quite the bittersweet relationship with the characterisation featured within this novel – I loved some characters, I liked aspects to others and the remainder I felt just ‘meh’ about. The protagonist, Violet, was a perfect example of this love/hate relationships – sometimes I was like “Yeah, this girl is cool! She sure has her head screwed on the right way!” and other times I was more like “Okay, please stop speaking because you’re literally hurting my brain.” I really enjoyed how headstrong and determined she was, and she was by no means a weak character at all – but her thoughts and actions sometimes just had me shaking the book in frustration. She obviously had some flair for the dramatics, especially when approaching the topic of the love triangle – boy, did she add more drama to that situation than need be. Oh, he kept something from me to protect me! Oh, the betrayal! Oh, he didn’t tell me something big about himself because it was a touchy issue for himself and perhaps there’s more to the story! Oh, I shall never talk to him again (or bother to hear his side of the story)! I particularly felt annoyance within me grow in terms of her preoccupation with Lincoln, one of the love interests and don’t even get me started on how I felt when she constantly used Phoenix just for her own gain, without regard for his feelings.
This leads me into my next topic – Lincoln and Phoenix, the love interests. Usually I’d look at them separately, however in this case I think together is the way they need to be addressed. The development and building of their characters confused the heck out of me. I personally really loved Phoenix – he was hot, snarky (but not quite an A-grade asshole) and BOY, talk about the sexual tension. But he still had a sweet and protective side (well, the protective side was a bit more bad boy-esque) and I really enjoyed the way he interacted with the other characters, especially Violet. It was entertaining to watch him manipulate their emotions. Some had it coming, anyway. He was pretty much the main reason why I kept reading the book. Lincoln’s cool too, but I just didn’t really care for him – there wasn’t as much depth to his character as there was to Phoenix’s, in my opinion. But the main issue I had with the characterisation was the feeling that I got while reading that the author hadn’t categorised them properly as characters. Which of the two was the dangerous, more bad boy type? Which was the safer option? At first, I felt that Phoenix was definitely the bad boy and I really enjoyed that – it suited him much more – but then towards the middle portion it felt as though Lincoln and Phoenix had swapped characters – Phoenix was saying this that Lincoln would’ve usually and had become the ‘safe option’, and Lincoln acted as though he were some big ‘mystery’ (he wasn’t). Violet’s constant obsessing over Lincoln didn’t help either and when, at the end, they swapped back it just made everything melt even more into a pool of confusion. Sometimes it’s refreshing when authors twist book character stereotypes, but only when it’s executed right – and this didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. It didn’t feel solid and most of the time I found myself uncertain of who or what kind of characters Lincoln and Phoenix were – which really hindered the overall characterisation of the book. 

The plot was intriguing though, and I could tell that the author had certainly taken a lot of time in her research of angelic mythology – which I always appreciate. I found myself very much interested in what was going to happen, and the ending was successful in keeping me enthralled into what would come next. The plot twists lacked strength however, with many not being surprises at all (in fact, from the beginning of the novel I just assumed that that knowledge was part of the storyline already). 

The writing was where the main downfall was unfortunately. Like I always say, the writing style and characterisation are the most important elements of a novel for me, and this was just…well, mediocre at best. The language felt very elementary – “I felt angry. I fell like wind. He looked shocked.” It really was a pitfall to the book, having no ability to take your breath away at the wonder of a phrase or sentence. It was just like…well, like anyone on the street could have written it. Much of the information was served through information dumping, particularly through the dialogue from characters. In general, the dialogue was very clunky and unrealistic. It also felt as though the author was trying to illustrate Violet as being the best protagonist ever – characters were always complimenting her, blatantly pointing out her strengths as though to remind readers if they’d forgotten – “you’d never give in to weakness”, “you’d never hurt anyone unless you had to”. It occurred far too often and made the book feel tedious and repetitive. 

Overall, the book certainly had its faults but still maintained a level of entertainment. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this novel unless you were desperately at lost for something to read, or if you personally think that you would enjoy it. Nevertheless though, the storyline still captivated me and I am looking to continue on with the series as I am very much interested in finding out what will happen next. 

Rating: 3/5