Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coexist by Julia Crane

Title: Coexist
Series: Keegan’s Chronicles
Author:  Julia Crane
Length:  2225 Kindle units
Rating: 1 star

The Plot

Keegan is an elf who lives a fairly ordinary life, except that she has to keep her supernatural abilities secret from her friends. But Keegan’s life is complicated by the war between the dark and light elves. Her brother Thaddeus has the gift of precognition, and he sees that the ultimate battle will take place on Keegan’s birthday and that her death may mean the difference between winning and losing.

The Good

I have resolved to say at least one good thing about every novel I review, even if it is only props to the writer for completing a book.

So… um… Props to the writer for completing a book.

Seriously, though, I wanted to like Coexist. It kept coming up as a recommendation for me in my Amazon lists, and I thought the blurb was better written and more interesting than most. Plus, it had the same title as those bumper stickers that promote religious tolerance, and I fully support religious tolerance. A plot including destined soulmates, threats of war, and visions of the future could have combined to create a good story, but instead the result was a jumble of characters who engaged in a series of seemingly random events.

The Bad

I don’t even know where to begin. The story and the mythology were both pretty illogical. The elves seemed to have powers at random, from Keegan’s invisibility to Thaddeus’s precognition. There also seemed to be many different supernatural species – shape shifters, fairies, and spirit walkers, to the point that there didn’t  seem to be any humans in the book at all.

I had a hard time determining how integrated the elves were into human society. Keegan seems to have the life of a normal teenager, and even when she starts training for the war, she still has plenty of time for shopping, dating, and going to concerts. The men, on the other hand, seem to be invested full-time as soldiers in the war. I couldn’t understand why the women were able to lead normal lives mixed with a little bit of training, but the men had to be active army members. Wouldn’t it make the regular humans suspicious that the girls all went to public school but the boys did not?

And then there was the writing. It was so disorganized that I found myself having sarcastic conversation with the text. No missing comma was safe from my scorn. When Keegan observed that the purple walls in her bedroom complimented the green walls, my response was, “Honey, unless the purple walls can actually talk, I’m pretty sure you meant complEmented. But given the likely appearance of these two colors in close proximity, I’m even doubting that.” 

I realize that theoretically third person omniscient is a legitimate point of view for a novel. I remember my 7th grade English classes where we had to identify whether an author knew what one character was thinking or what all characters are thinking. In practice, though, trying to write from everyone’s point of view means that you end up with a very confusing muddle in which the reader can't tell who thinks or knows what. I’m sure there are cases where a gifted writer has pulled off the technique, but this is not an example of one of those.

The Romance

I wanted to like this novel because I liked the concept behind the romance. I generally enjoy the kind of conflict that arises from a culture that endorses arranged marriage mixing with modern times. Except that this seemed to be more of a soulmate thing, which left me very confused about the mechanics. Keegan and Rourk are supposed to meet when she turns 18, so presumably the older elves are aware that they are meant to be together, or else they couldn’t orchestrate the arrangement. But at the same time, when they meet, they are supposed to immediately feel a cosmic connection to their mate. 

So as far as I can tell, one of two things must happen at each baby’s birth: either the gods send down a letter informing the parents of their new baby’s future mate, or else the elves perform some sort of magic ceremony connecting the child to his or her partner. I don't see any other way that an arranged marriage to one's soulmate could work.

Will I Read More?

Oh, dear gods, no.

Although I must confess that my lack of desire to read another book made me realize something problematic with e-publishing. I do have some mild curiosity about whether Keegan and Rourk are able to work through their issues but not enough to read or purchase the next book. Ordinarily what I would do in a case like this is go to the bookstore and just read the last few pages of the second novel, but I can’t do that with an e-book. So I will sadly never know what becomes of Keegan. Fortunately, I suspect I shall recover.

1 comment:

  1. I have read the book and I quite enjoyed it actually. I am more of a romantic junkie and I can't help but gush when there are stories about destined couples. To each his own I guess! :)