Time for another review – Morning Star (Ethos, Book One) by Desiree Finkbeiner.
Brief synopsis - Brianna is your ordinary, average American girl. When an unusual dragonfly catches her eye, it marks the beginning of an adventure which will lead her into danger, love, and a whole new life. Pursued by the villainous Ellette, she must flee with her new protector Kalen to his homeworld, losing her heart and her home, and realising her destiny.
To kick it off, let me make things perfectly clear. I am not the target audience for this book, nor is it my kind of book. It falls into the kind of supernatural teen romance which has become a prolific genre in its own right. Unfortunately, that genre has fallen into a readily mockable state, with the Twilight series coming in for some particularly venomous abuse. And, yes, technically Morning Star does fall into that category. It walks a difficult path in a genre filled with traditions and types which have long since become cliche, and as such, should find it difficult to come up with something new.
The most typical story of this nature would run: Girl meets boy. Girl realises Boy A is special. Girl realises she’s special. Boy A realises girl is special. Boy A protects girl. Girl and Boy A fall in love, but realise they cannot be together, Boy B enters the equation, also falls in love with girl. Girl A cannot decide between Boy A and Boy B, but ultimately realises that she’s so in love with Boy A. Boy A ultimately realises the same. Boy B is upset, and does something bad. Girl and Boy A weather adversity, to find they love each other. The end.
Does Morning Star follow this? Does Morning Star give in to cliche? Does Morning Star stay true to the genre? Well, therein lies the fun. You see, Morning Star is a teen supernatural romance, but to say it’s like all of the others is to say that a rose is just another plant in the ground.
Yes, it’s flawed. There are some silly little spelling mistakes of the “your/you’re variety”. The warrior Kalen is, to my mind, too much of a wimp; speech patterns changes a little too quickly; Brianna seems a little too young for her age; the rush of love comes a mite too suddenly for my liking; and part of the ending is anticlimactic. But…
What should be a cliched tale is handled very well, and very sweetly. There’s an undeniable charm filling every page. It’s easy to get overly cynical about this, but Finkbeiner has taken a nice twist on the tale, and instead of clumsily jumping on every cliche, she deftly dances around them. There are some wonderful takes on prophecies, chosen ones, magic, fairies, the eternal life deal, and even vampires (I especially liked the take on vampires – a nice new take. Very rare to find).
Finkbeiner has created a nice mythos, and an interesting new world. The ending sets up for the forthcoming books. She handles dialogue, fight scenes, some cliches which shouldn’t work (e.g. amnesia, gushing declarations of love, etc) well. Hell, even the huge info dumps work nicely (particularly difficult when there’s so much to be said).
For me, Kalen and Brianna both seem to pure, too sweet to be credible, and it seems like Finkbeiner may be pushing a bit of a message. However, I also get the impression that rather than pushing that message, she’s highlighting an ideal. Humility, purity, nobility. Brianna has a strength, and is willing to fight for her ideals (no timid wallflower, or horror-movie screamer! Although, she does instantly gloss over stabbing someone in the eye, which couldn’t have been pleasant), and handles her love rival in a pretty realistic manner.
Sweetly, the book is interspersed with hand drawings. Initially, the cynic in me rolled his eyes. However, I realised what a cunning little minx Finkbeiner is. These drawings are done to illustrate moments in the text, but they’re done in exactly the kind of style I would expect a smitten girl to sketch out whilst daydreaming fantasy moments with her man. As such, they’re actually quite sweet.
At heart, I’m a romantic myself. Unfortunately, wrapped around that heart is a healthy layer or ten of cynicism. Is this my kind of book? No. Was I charmed by the story, by the ideals, most crucially… did it allow me to let go, and enjoy myself? Was there something I could identify with? Did a part of me wish for that kind of purity and love?
Overall – not technically perfect, daintily tiptoeing through a minefield of cliches, and absolutely not intended for me. And yet it won me over. Bravo, Miss Finkbeiner.
Morning Star is available in both paperback and Kindle formats at:
Description: When a mysterious stranger interrupts Brianna’s mundane routine, her eyes are opened to the dark underbelly of reality… immortal rogues, ancient conspiracies, prophetic revelations, savage tribes, mammoth dragonflies…
She’s thrust into a race for her life when Kalen, a warrior from Ethos, discovers that she is harboring a secret… a secret that he’d give his life to protect.
There’s just one little problem… they are tempted by a forbidden romance, which threatens to compromise a divinely appointed mission. They are faced with a choice… love eternal, or the end of the world…