Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Growing up in a small Tennessee mountain town is hard, but it’s even more difficult when you’re Haven Moore, she of the broken family and mysterious visions. For as long as she can remember, Haven has had visions of herself in another life, as a woman named Constance, who loved a man named Ethan. Constance’s pull spurs Haven to go to New York City, where she is drawn to the famous playboy, Iain Morrow, and their ominous connection to the mysterious Ouroboros Society.
Suddenly Haven is living a luxurious life she’s never even dreamed of, alongside a boy whose connection to her she can’t explain. But it seems like Iain is keeping secrets from her. What is his connection to the Ouroboros Society? What does the Society really do? Is Iain really Ethan? And if he’s not…then who is he?
THE ETERNAL ONES is a “wow” of a novel. The story started a little shakily, but then I was captivated by the uniqueness, writing style, and romance that Kirsten Miller does so well.
I will state up front that this book will not be for everyone. It reminded me most of Nina Malkin’s SWOON, with its gorgeous writing, mystical mysteries, and a romance so all-consuming it makes you feel like you’re swimming underwater with no chance to come up for air. There is a certain level of suspension of disbelief you must consciously tell yourself to engage in, or else you’ll be like that awkward wallflower at a classy cocktail party, wanting desperately to immerse yourself in comprehension of the swirls and eddies of energy and charisma around you, but not knowing how. It is all too easy to dismiss this book as one that “missed the mark” in terms of reader connectivity—but if you hang in there and allow yourself to be sucked in, you will be rewarded beyond what you can even imagine.
It is the mystery element of THE ETERNAL ONES that drew me into the story and kept my eyes glued to the pages. Past the first hundred pages, the entire book is like a perpetual ride over the last few inches before the crest of a rollercoaster’s first hill. You watch the events unfold, but something’s not quite right; you’re constantly on your toes, breathlessly dreading or anticipating what’s going to happen next. The layers of ambiguity in this novel are astounding, and you won’t ever be able to figure out what’s going to happen next, or who Haven should trust—if anyone.
Okay, so most of the characters are average in personality and definition (with the exception of Beau, Haven’s best friend, who is utterly charming and fantastic), the plot can drag at times (especially in the first quarter of the book), and there are instances where Kirsten Miller’s writing doesn’t quite ring true (i.e. it can’t decide whether it’s third-person limited or omniscient: it’s gotta be one or the other, sorry). But it’s that inexplicable, intangible feel of the book that has it churning around in my head even days after I finished it. If you’re looking for the manifestation of the reviewer phrase “The writing/story haunted me,” you’ll find it here. I would read the book again just for that feeling of intangibility, of feeling my soul depart, ghost-like, from my body, from the hands that are holding the book, from the eyes must read and process the words.
THE ETERNAL ONES is hard for me to define, and will probably be difficult to recommend. There are a number of flaws in the story, but somehow they all come together to form something unforgettable. At least that was how it was for me. If you’re looking for, and think you’re able to have, the kind of reading experience I had with this book, I encourage you to give it a try when you can. Perhaps you, too, will be haunted by it…in a good way.
Nina Malkin (Swoon)
Anastasia Hopcus (Shadow Hills)
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures)
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 2.5 out of 5 - I know it's the symbol of the Ouroboros Society (and the snake is in shiny foil, which is kind of cool), but otherwise the flatness of the image doesn't really attract me.
Razorbill / Aug. 10, 2010 / Hardcover / 416pp. / $17.99
ARC received from Around the World Tours.