BOOK REVIEW (27): Immortal Hearts (Vampire Kisses #9)

BOOK REVIEW:
Immortal Hearts
 

This review was a long time coming. Frankly I didn’t think I’d be writing this until the end of the year, especially since I kinda went on a dry spell reading-wise last month.
But with CampNaNo revising going bust and picking up a reading challenge I managed to squeeze the final books of the Vampire Kissesseries in my schedule. And voila, the conclusion to the series after nearly a decade with these books…
RECAP. In a former post I mentioned I stumbled across Ellen Screiber’s YA PNR series in 2005. Back then I didn’t know Twilight existed (that came at the close of 2007) and I got to that point in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series were I wanted to burn all the then-existing books (I think Micah was slated for a release then.)
I broke away from the VK series purely because I hate waiting. I’m not a patient person when it comes to the traditional book schedule of a year. I just can’t do it. So usually I’m a late band wagoner waiting until the final book in a series’ releases before I dive in and rush to catch up by that final publication date.
Case in point with Immortal Hearts: this 9th and final installment of the Vampire Kissesseries released in May 2012. Holy crud! More than 2 years ago, and I remember stalking Ms. Schreiber’s twitter to catch the title reveal. Also learned back then that there was to be a book 10 called Stormy Nights, but I think it was pulled and Immortal Hearts was announced to be the final book. Fun fact! Although there is no book 10 (and to be honest, I don’t even know whether to be sad or happy about this) Stormy Nights made it as a chapter title in Immortal Hearts.
So here we are with the review. What can I say after this long-ass journey?
Yay! First of all to me for getting through these books—
You see Immortal Hearts follows the same trajectory as every one of its eight predecessors. There’s a mini recap. Night life seems swell until Raven begins pestering Alexander to bite her AGAIN. Alexander—and we’re reminded he’s a gentleman vampire unlike that ruffian Jagger who’ll stick his fangs anywhere—denies his instinct for blood and mating (yeah…apparently he really wants to make Raven his vampire-mate which sounds like a sophisticated form of healthy teenage curiosity to me). Some family member (or acquaintance), in this case family, from Alexander’s world makes a cross-Atlantic trip to drop in on Dullsville, U.S.A. This visitor is Alexander’s little sister, Athena Sterling, also affectionately known as Stormy. Visitor causes indirect (and/or direct) problems to Raven and Alexander’s nocturnal love and there is a recapitalization of the series’ overarching internal conflict in which Raven doubts her wish to become a vampire and Alexander confesses his desire to bite Raven and make her wishes come true despite totally thinking he’s going to ruin her life as a human.
Now that doesn’t sound like I like this book? Well although that’s true, it’s kinda half true. Overall the series is like average. Decent. I didn’t come away thinking I wasted my time, but I sure as hell will never read these books again if I can help it.
What I liked:
1)      Athena “Stormy” Sterling – I’ve realized I like most of the visitors to Dullsville, because they give me a break from Raven + Alexander action. Athena makes it on both my lists, but right here I’ll mention what I did like about her. I liked that she wasn’t all over Raven immediately. And even when she was it wasn’t solely a Raven thing. She was friendly to everybody.
2)    The sibling scenes – there are more scenes with Raven and her little brother, Billy/Billy Boy/Nerd Boy. And I usually find the author does exceptionally well capturing the sibling rivalry. Also learned author had two brothers and that she might be drawing from her own experiences possibly? Mhm. That would be interesting to confirm. But Billy plays more of a role in this novel. His name pops up a lot and not just in casual mention. Like he’s there again since he kinda took a back seat after a large mention in book 4, Dance with a Vampire.
3)     Not everyone get a HEA! What? Why am I excited about that? Mostly because I was steeling myself to a really sickening happily-ever-after where all teen lovers in the book get together and spin yarn about how they’ll spend their mortality or immortality together.
What I disliked:
1)      Athena “Stormy” Sterling – told you she makes it on my other list. What I disliked about Stormy was how she came off. She’s a wish-washy character and, though she’s much stronger at the beginning, by the end she is a caricature. There’s a scene where she confronts Jagger and the rest of the Maxwell siblings about something (I won’t say what due to spoilers) and she manages to tidy up what appears to be an eternal feud between the Maxwell and Sterling dynasties. I mean, wth. She’s twelve. C’mon. Was I to believe that all it took was a wrist-slap for everyone to get along?
2)    The cheesy dialogue and constructed actions of the characters. I was jarred out of the story so much times. Particularly every time Raven says something I wouldn’t expect came out of the mouth of a seventeen-year-old. And then there’s the back-and-forth ping-pong debate about turning Raven into a vampire were excuses to inject the novel with thematic messages. Like they felt like lectures amounting into vast pages.
3)     Usually I’m not complaining about a book’s pace, but MAHGAH this book was fast. As in nothing-happened-but-everything-fell-into-place fast. I already mentioned the backstory to Immortal Hearts and the Vampire Kissesseries and how there was to be a book 10, but I guess the contract came in for only one more book and not two. So this final installment also happens to be the longest book in the series at 58K. Books 1-7 averaged at 36-40K so there’s a pretty big word leap. My theory is, and this is because it felt like this reading the book, this story is an amalgam of a would-be other story in the series. Like books 9 and 10 were mashed up and the mash-up result is Immortal Hearts. I say this because there seems to be two plots going on. You have the Stormy-arriving and vampire-secret discovery thing and then the Raven-wanting-to-get-bitten plot.
Just read the book and you’ll understand what I mean. It feels very disjointed and comes off as a helter-skelter read.
Okay. So it’s obvious I’m pretty divided with the series’ concluding novel,  but also with the series as a whole. I started and continued reading the books because I enjoyed Ellen Schreiber’s humorous approach to the whole teen paranormal wangst. Which BTW was pre-Twilight folks!
But by the end I’m no longer seeing this as a comedy (maybe even a satire) on YA PNR and romantic comedy film genre. Like suddenly the author took herself way too seriously and got sucked in by the whole crappy romance.
Speaking of romantic comedies, there’s actually a rain scene, too.
You know the reunion scene after the black moment in romantic comedies. Lovers chase after each other in the rain and confess their wrongdoings and proclaim their eternal love for one another, hug and kiss in the rain yadda yadda blah bleck!
Yet I still can’t find that regret in me. I don’t hate the books, and I don’t love them. But I DO recommend them as a great summer/leisure read. They’re light-hearted at the very least and escapism when the plot gets good, which is rare… And if you’re not much of a YA PNR reader, use the Vampire Kisses series to test the waters as it will do either of two things: 1) have you running for the hills from all PNR things, or 2) ease you through to more mature writing—not to say the immaturity of these books were a bad thing. I enjoyed them whenever I enjoyed them.

And that’s why with sincerity I say, thanks for the read, Vampire Kisses, I’ll miss you.
My verdict:
✮✮

 

(3 stars)
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