Thursday, March 1, 2012

Betrayal by Mayandree Michel

Title: Betrayal
Series: The Descendants
Author: Mayandree Michel
Length: 9038 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

Cordelia hates living in Nickel City and can’t wait until she goes off to college and escapes the small town. Then one day she is struck by a car and killed, only to be resurrected in Nickel City, over 100 years in the past.

Cordelia’s friends tell her that all her memories before the past few years are constructed and that she was actually raised in the 19th century. She was magically sent to the future for protection after her parents died because she is the most powerful member of a race of demigods known as the Ischeros. But the enemy she fled is still working to destroy her people, and without her memories she doesn’t even know who she can trust, much less how she can fight.

The Good

Betrayal was a good story with an intriguing mythology which managed to combine a variety of fantasy tropes into a single world. (The time travel might have been a bit much, but the plausibility didn’t get too out of hand.) It was particularly interesting to view the world through Cordelia’s point of view, since she was both a newcomer to and an important member of Ischeros society. Her amnesia almost made her into two characters – the Cordelia we saw and the Cordelia whose life she was trying to remember. Her friends wanted to have the old Cordelia back, but as new Cordelia looked back on who she had been, she found that her time in the future influenced her more than she had intended.

The Bad

The first three or four chapters of Betrayal were pretty much a disaster area. We start off with Cordelia being embarrassed that everyone in her small town knows that she takes public transportation to work. As soon as we stop being confused over why a town so small that everyone knows everyone else even has a public transit system, we move onto Cordelia’s best friend Bethany deliberately keeping major plot information from us. Just when we are about to get answers, Cordelia dies, and we spend a very long time witnessing our narrator lament her own demise, which we can only assume is temporary. Finally Cordelia is magically resurrected and transported back in time, where the real story finally begins. Honestly, the whole book would have been better served if the entire time travel aspect of the story were cut. After reading the whole book, I understand the effect the author was going for, but I think a trip to Paris and a case of amnesia could have worked just as well and been much less convoluted.

In my perusal of the literature about publishing a book, I have come across numerous cautions against books that are too long. I have had a hard time understanding this myself, since it’s always a struggle for me to get my books up to some kind of minimum word count.  As I read Betrayal, though, I realized that this is exactly the kind of book we are warned against. There were a large number of scenes that went on too long or did not add anything new to the story. Cordelia had a number of conversations with Bethany in which they tried to iron out their friendship, and the only thing I really learned was that I don’t really like Bethany. I hope she turns out to be a villain in the later books.

The Romance

Cordelia has multiple romance options, all of which are complicated by her amnesia and position as Empress. In the future, she has dreams of a boy named Evan, to whom she is engaged and who has taken a prominent role among the Ischeros in her absence. But apparently I’m not the only one who finds Evan a little boring, because old Cordelia was also having a fling with her next door neighbor Gerald. Amnesiac Cordelia is a little appalled at her former self’s behavior, but she is not above continuing the association in hopes that she can find out more about what is going on with her life. And at the end of the story, a third suitor steps forward to make his bid for Cordelia’s hand. Who will she choose? Is the choice even really hers or will the decision be decided by her position in society? Only time will tell.

Will I read more?

I’m totally going to read more! How else will I find out whether Cordelia ends up with the right boy? Really, once you get past the first few chapters, the book is very readable. The mythology is original, and the story is engaging. Though I definitely would not object if the book came in at about 2/3 of the length of Betrayal.

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