Where's Your Book Today?

That's what people always say to me at work, if I don't have a book or my PDA or my eBookwise Reader with me at lunch. I love to read and I guess it's obvious. So many books, so little time...and so much dust in my apartment.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Stolen" by Kelley Armstrong

"Stolen" is book 2 in Kelley Armstrong's "Women of the Otherworld" series. If you've been following this blog, you know I've already read book 1, as well as three online novellas set in this world.

"Stolen" is once again told from Elena's point of view, just like "Bitten." In "Stolen," however, Elena discovers that her world has expanded to include vampires, shaman, witches, sorcerers, demons, half-demons, minor deities, and more. Turns out, there is an Interracial Council of paranormal beings who meet to discuss issues in the paranormal community, but the werewolves had split from the group long enough ago that no one alive remembers when the belonged.

Elena is shocked when she is tricked into meeting two witches, Ruth and Paige Winterbourne. They want to get representatives of all the paranormals together to talk about rumors of a rich human who appears to be capturing and collecting data on paranormals. Soon, however, she and the two witches learn from first-hand experience how true the rumors really are.

The compound where the paranormals are being held is a combination of high-tech and supernatural security. The scientists are a combination of too-clinical detachment and over-the-top fanaticism. And Elena scrambles to find a way to escape.

I had a hard time finishing this book. I gave it a 3.5 rating overall, but I was disappointed with it.

After thinking about it, I decided that I really wanted this series to be more of an "ensemble" style series, where all the members of the Pack got equal "airtime." I think if I could have warmed to the idea that this was going to be mostly about Elena, I might have liked it better.

The time spent in the compound just seemed to drag on forever. And the two evil scientists (as opposed to the just-too-clinically-detached scientists) were so over-the-top they were almost cartoonish. Plus, as the reader is introduced to one new paranormal character after another, you can't help but wonder if the whole point is to create opportunities for sequels.

Elena pulled a real TSTL romance-heroine moment and it was what got her captured. Her attitudes about Clay notwithstanding, she's usually smarter than that. So it felt more like a plot-device than something the character would actually do.

Finally, the young witch, Paige Winterbourne, is childish and whiny. She was even harder to like because I knew she was the "narrator" for book 3, and I was dreading reading it even before I finished this one.

The witches on the council were portrayed as doddering and ineffectual. And we're introduced to more gender-specific paranormal abilities. In "Bitten" we learned that only boy werewolves are ever born, and the human women they impregnate are disposable.

In "Stolen", we're introduced to the concept that witches are sorcerers are separate races. Sorcerers are always male, and almost always evil at worst, self-centered, heartless, money-grubbing CEO types at best. Witches, on the other hand, while portrayed as fairly ineffectual, also have all the healing magic.

Then you've got the demons, who seem to all be male. They also breed with women of other races, but their offspring might be male or female. However, only the boys get any of the fathers' supernatural abilities.

It does make you wonder what's going on in the author's mind, doesn't it? Does she have "issues" with men? Or is she trying to mirror the seeming advantage that males have in the natural world (strength, size, etc.)?

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