Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book review: The Eternal Ones

The Eternal Ones
When love refuses to die, it not only refuses to give up the past, but also allows those who've experienced it before, to relive the cycle again.
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The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller (Razorbill)

For as long as Haven Moore can remember, she's always been plagued by visions of a previous past life with a darkly handsome boy named Ethan.

Under the oppressive rule of a deeply religious grandmother, Haven has been taught all her life to fear and suppress any visions she may have had about life with this so-called mysterious stranger.
 
Being bound and trapped in the small town of Snope City, Haven is constantly subjected to the narrow-minded intolerance that forms the main DNA structure of the small-town mentality syndrome that seems to be a plague amongst the people in her town.

With her talent for dressmaking and the company of her only friend, Beau, the world around her keeps becomes narrower, while her visions become stronger.

When she inadvertently chances upon an image of gorgeous movie star Iain Morrow on TV, something about him seems to be inexplicably compelling and draws her to him, like no other boy has ever done before. 

A further startling discovery leads her to information about The Ouroboros Society - a group dedicated to spending their time studying reincarnation.

Deciding to chance things as well as being driven by a maddening urge to find Iain Morrow, Haven makes a break for it and heads to New York where she quickly becomes immersed in the murky and dangerous world of reincarnation.

Will she discover the hidden secrets of her past? And can she really trust Iain Morrow, the boy who reminds her so of Ethan, but who may or may not be a murderer?

One thing is certain, Haven needs to gather all her wits about her to tap into her memories and discover hidden secrets about her past lives in order to avoid repeating a tragic cycle that has so far, always resulted in devastating tragedy.

I have to admit that I am very surprised by just how much I enjoyed reading this book.
Having not read any books about reincarnation in a while, I really jumped into this book not knowing what to expect.

Not only that, I must confess to also being a little wary of reading this because, as a not-so-huge fan of snakes (MAJOR understatement there), the menacing and rather sinister looking cover didn't exactly scream pick-me-up-and-read-me-this-very-instant to my ever keen book senses.

Of course, having now read this book, I definitely think it's a very appropriate cover. It still isn't one of my favourite book covers, but it does definitely convey and reflect just what the book is about.

I have always thought that it's really great when books manage to have covers that actually convey the idea behind the book, because there are so many books out there where the cover has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual book - something which I've always found to be very jarring.   

Cover aside; I thought this was such a beautifully written book.

Kirsten Miller has a wonderful way of engaging and pulling readers into the world she creates in her book. I loved how the book flashes between both Haven's present and past lives (although the present was for the most part the dominant part of the novel) and thought that the beautifully descriptive scenes were very easy to get sucked into.

I especially loved reading about the scenes from her past, because that's where Kirsten's lyrical prose shines through the most. 

She manages to capture and paint the mystery and romance of the 1920s in such a vividly lush, evocative and detailed manner, that you really can't help but want to turn back the hands of time in order to experience that period for yourself.

The characters in the book were also quite an intriguing, eclectic and complex mix. 

I initially admit to not being sure of just exactly what Kirsten was trying to convey by portraying Imogene (Haven's grandmother) as a narrow-minded and devoutly religious and controlling woman who wanted to save Haven's soul from what she perceived as the work of the devil.  I was even more wary when the Pastor himself is also portrayed in a rather dubious light. 

But being an open-minded individual, I stopped to pause and consider the underlying social commentary about religious zealots.

As a Christian, I have often come across fellow Christians who are rather judgemental, narrow-minded and often use and manipulate religion (according to their own perceived notions ) as a tool to force their view points on others (I can't even begin to tell you how big a PET PEEVE this is of mine - especially considering that people from all walks of life, creed and religion are guilty of this).

For me, what I actually got out of this, is that she doesn't try to say anything bad about Christianity, but places emphasis on people who try and use religion (in this case Christianity is used) to illustrate how easily people can skewer and adapt life philosophies and  religious principals to suit their own purpose and intentions. 

I loved both Haven and Iain's characters, although at times I become massively frustrated with her due to the fact that she so readily believed other people's damning claims about Iain/Ethan, when she knew them for an even shorter time than she has known Iain. 

Granted,  I found it very hard to trust Iain at times too, but I know that had I been in Haven's shoes, I would have chosen to trust someone that I knew just a little better above someone who is a member of a shady and  ominously sinister society. 

Still, aside from that, I really loved watching the story between Haven and Iain unfurl and am very glad that there is going to be a sequel to this - as there are so many unanswered questions about Haven's past lives that I would really love to see explored in the next novel

(By the way, how beautiful are the character's names in this novel? Nothing makes me happier than characters who have names that aren't seen or used in novels all that often).

There are some very interesting and unpredictable twists and turns in the novel, and the involvement of a possible third person (who may or may not be very human) adds an added dimension to an already engrossing story.

Oh and if that hasn't sold you yet - some of the scenes are set in the wonderfully romantic, historically and culturally rich city of Rome.  I can't wait for the sequel.

My final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

6 comments:

Jan von Harz said...

I am so glad I read your review. I have read a few that were less positive, and your details about the religious theme and characters, has me back to wanting this book. Excellent review. Thanks

Jenny said...

Really fantastic review Tammy! I agree completely with you on Haven, had I been in her shoes I would have been wary of Iain at times, but I would have absolutely taken his word over a complete stranger's from an odd secret society. This one is beautifully written and I'm excited to see where this story leads since she gave us an interesting little observation at the end out Haven's window.

Aisle B said...

Another perfect review. I didn't realize the premise dealt with love and reincarnation. I'd seen the cover and thought of the image as something sinister and cyclic. The snake eating it's own tale so to speak. Yet the body of the snake is a loopy heart... interesting.

Glad to hear you enjoyed it and will add it on to the TBR list.

PS Her name Haven... Heaven... just a thought. :)

StephTheBookworm said...

I'm glad to hear this was good because I've been thinking of reading it!

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

I totally loved this one too - I can't wait for the sequel! I thought that the scenes set in Rome were particularly beautiful!

Chutzpah said...

It's weird, but I somehow agree with almost all the reviews of this book, whether they're good or bad...