Fearless (The Avena Series) - Marianne Curley

Before I start, I have to apologise to Bloomsbury Australia who kindly sent me a review copy of this book. I cleaned my house and promptly lost the book for about six months, so when I found it again I decided to review Book 1 Hidden and Book 2 Broken as well.

SUMMARY

Now that Ebony is the evil Prince Luca’s prisoner, Nathaniel and the other angels must do everything they can before Luca consummates the marriage and his plan for world domination is put into effect. But the impenetrable gates to Skade have been shut for one hundred years, and the consequences of forcing a breach are catastrophic.

WORLDBUILDING

I was pretty amused at this depiction of Skade – one with schools and prisons and agriculture. Luca took over a thousand or so years ago and really cleaned up the fire and brimstone aspects. I’m still trying to figure out if, in this twisted angel mythology where angels can fall in love, marry, and mate, if Luca/Lucian is meant to be a version of Lucifer. He’s even got a ‘beast’ form.

megatron beast mode

One thing I could never understand – with the gates of Skade closed for one hundred years, where exactly were the souls meant to go for judgement? And what of everyone trapped outside who was meant to be inside? And what of the person who was supposed to take over Skade after Luca’s demise? How exactly are they supposed to get in?

CHARACTERS + RELATIONSHIPS

I think I really started to feel for Ebony in this book. She’d finally accepted that she was an angel and she was separated from the one she loved and forced into this sham of a relationship with Luca, who used lies, manipulation, and even physical abuse to control her. It was really sad and really, really creepy that Ebony was only sixteen yet Luca was planning on raping and impregnating her anyway – not like her turning eighteen would have made a difference, but apparently that was the magical number where angels are allowed to start mating, or something.

Although Ebony had this awful habit to not realising when she was screaming – like in most paranormal romances, the ‘being unaware my body is doing something’ like breathing or crying or apparently screaming is supposed to be dramatic but when used to excess it starts making a good drinking game – she actually grew as a character. I was actually looking forward to her being forcefully married to Luca and being rescued in the nick of time and that way, she would still be Queen of Skade and have responsibilities towards the damned souls but that wasn’t the direction in which the story took place. Ebony had learned to accept herself, but I still found it frustrating that this super-powerful being was little more than a tough-talking damsel in distress. She didn’t plan an escape, she didn’t save herself, she didn’t contribute to the downfall of the bad guy, and based purely on her genetics, she was rewarded with a life of perfect happiness.

I totally didn’t buy Jordan and Amber’s romance. Not only did Jordan basically think that anything with a skirt was sexy, I was still convinced Amber thought he was an idiot.

As for the other angels, well, I can’t remember who was married to whom. Everyone seemed to kind of blur into one character except for Michael and Gabriel and that’s probably because I recognise their angelic names from the Bible.

WHAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK

One of the things that did worked but unfortunately I did see coming from a long way off was the revelation of the traitor and how the traitor had helped the bad guys in the earlier books. While I was annoyed that the monastery was supposed to be impenetrable by the bad guys and lo and behold, oh no they broke through, it was actually the traitor who let them in. So that plot hole wrapped up nicely.

The other thing that bothered me SO MUCH was the horrible attitude of all of the angels (except Nathaniel) that once Luca had forcefully, against Ebony’s will, married her, and forcefully, against her will, raped her and impregnated her, that all would be lost and Nathaniel would no longer want Ebony, nor care for her, or desire her. I can’t even begin to describe how totally awful that attitude is – to victims of abusive relationships, to women who have children with one man and then remarry, to rape victims. It was such a horrible assumption and I was so glad than Nathaniel never bought into it. Although it did seem really odd that they seemed to be in this ‘race against time’ because the longer Ebony was in Skade the more likely it would be that she would end up pregnant. I mean, that was basically the motivation to rescue her, not because she was being held prisoner or against her will or being forced to live with Luca, but because she might get pregnant, and that was Phase I Don’t Even Know The Number of Luca’s evil plan to fill the world with his and Ebony’s offspring, Soul Readers who would mark possible Skade candidates for processing in the bid to take over Earth. It was like, if the angels got to Skade and heaven forbid, Ebony was pregnant, they were just going to give up and go home. Not only does it make Ebony seem like simply an object of lust and less than a person, but it put the value of her on her womb. Thankfully, Nathaniel never thought like this, but I was disgusted that the other angels did.

BONUS

This book is set in Australia, so I dreamed up some Australian casting! Check it out on the blog.

OVERALL

As far as the whole trilogy goes, I think this book was the best. I had to keep reminding myself that it was written for a teen audience in mind and imagining myself as the kind of teenage girl who likes to pretend she’s the main character in a book. Although there were a few glaring plotholes, the inconsistent writing of the previous two books seemed to have dropped off a bit. If you've read the previous two books, it's definitely worth tracking down this one to get the final story.