Thursday, August 18, 2016

Double Review: The Stars Never Rise and The Flame Never Dies by Rachel Vincent

The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent
Book One of The Stars Never Rise series
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 9, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.


To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?


Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.



What I Liked:

I'm so glad I decided to binge-read this duology! The publisher sent me an unsolicited copy of this book (which did not affect my opinion in any way), and then book two, and I knew that was a sign. I've had my eye on this series for a while, but never pushed myself to read it. I'm glad the opportunity was presented to me though, because I enjoyed the series!

Nina Kane is coming up on seventeen years old, and something is happening to her. One night, while sneaking back home after a grueling night of work, she comes face-to-face with a demon - and incinerates it with her hands. Nina discovers that she is an exorcist - a real one - and what the Church have parading around as exorcists are not real. In fact, the Church has been lying to everyone for years, feeding lies about demons and exorcists and souls. Now, Nina must find a way to rescue her fifteen-year-old pregnant sister, who the Church took because of her pregnancy, and because they want to use her to draw Nina back. Nina must run for her life in order to save Mellie, and she joins with Finn and a team of real exorcists who are determined to decimate the demon hordes.

When I first saw that this book was about exorcists, I was a little nervous. I was thinking of those old-fashioned exorcisms, in which a person is tied down and there is a priest and he yells "Come out of him, Satan!" or something. And I didn't particularly want to read a book about this. So I was excited to see that Vincent's type of exorcism is fire, shot from the exorcist's hands. Which is neat!

Nina is so strong, so independent, and has had such a difficult life already. With her mother's health declining, Nina has been taking care of herself, her mother, and her sister. When Nina finds out that Mellie is pregnant, panic sets in a little. Pregnancy must be planned and licensed, and Nina did neither of those things. And when Nina kills a demon, who happened to be her mother, the Church comes after Nina in order to silence her. Crazy, right?

I like Nina and respect her so much. My heart broke for her, and the hard decisions she had to make. But I love how strong she is, and how this strength translates into her exorcist abilities in a way. Nina is a kickbutt exorcist, with training. Meeting Finn and the gang made Nina stronger.

Finn is a weird character, and I won't get into that. But I like him. He's the love interest, and I think he and Nina are great together. Finn is playful and flirtatious, but it's clear that he likes Nina from the get-go. 

Other characters include Maddock, who is sweet but a little troubled, Devi, who is mean and territorial (and also Maddock's girlfriend), Reese, who is big and tough, and Grayson, the only one who isn't an exorcist (she's also Reese's girlfriend). I liked all of these secondary characters, even Devi (who is annoying but also hilarious at times). 

This book focuses on Nina's transition into exorcism, as well as rescuing Mellie, and uncovering secrets that the Church has been hiding for so long. We all know how shady and cruel the Church is, but it runs so deep. Demons and the Church are more connected than our characters thought!

You can probably already tell, but this is a dystopia/post-apocalyptic type of world, with the Church as the "leader", and the war with demons being the "apocalypse" (or the "before" part). From the start, we as readers don't trust the Church. 

The romance is weird (and it's because of something with Finn), but it's cute. No love triangle or anything like that, but it's a weird one. I liked it though. Finn and Nina work around limitations, and you can pretty much see where that thing will go. Which will probably happen in book two, and it'll make the romance even better!

So I liked the characters. I liked the romance (it was a little slow, and sometimes weird, but cute). I liked the story (so much action, fleeing, etc.!). Overall, a really great book!

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said, the thing with Finn and the romance is weird. Not necessarily awful, but weird. When I first read that, I did a mental double-take. Weird! But anyway, it was fine in general, but weird too. I would have liked to see more between Finn and Nina physically, too!

Would I Recommend It:

I was a little concerned about the whole exorcism concept, but it's totally not what you think it will be! Vincent's version of exorcism is very different. So if that's a thing that's worrying you, don't let it. I liked this book and I see why it did well. I'd recommend it!

Rating:

4 stars. A good start to the duology. I'm glad I get to binge-read the books, because the ending of this book makes me want book two now. Not quite a cliffhanger, but still a hooking ending. This was my first YA book by Vincent, and it was pretty great!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


The Flame Never Dies by Rachel Vincent
Book Two of The Stars Never Rise series
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth—that the war against demons is far from over—seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go. 

In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat: Pandemonia, a city full of demons. But this fresh new hell is the least of Nina’s worries. The well of souls ran dry more than a century ago, drained by the demons secretly living among humans, and without a donor soul, Mellie’s child will die within hours of its birth.

Nina isn’t about to let that happen . . . even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.

What I Liked:

Not a bad way to end the series! I think I might have liked The Stars Never Rise more, but not by much. This duology in general was very solid, very well-written and definitely worth my time. 

In this sequel, Nina, her pregnant younger sister, and the exorcists are trying to put as much distance between them and the Church as possible. But things are not that easy; the demons are possessing the bodies of any healthy human they can find, and it isn't always obvious. In the badlands, it's tough to survive. Mellie is due in a month, and Pandemonia, a city of demons, is looming. Kastor, the "leader" of Pandemonia, wants exorcists alive. Nina must decide if she will face Kastor, or give up everything for Mellie's unborn child. 

The title of this book is so fitting in so many ways. Which flame are we talking about? The flame of the exorcists? The flame being a metaphor for the baby? The title could work either way, and I think it's a great title. And it matches the pattern of the first book's title!

This book had a different feel compared to book one. It's less about Nina and her difficult life and her taking care of her family. In this book, Nina is bent on helping her sister and unborn nephew or niece, but she also finds that she wants to fight the demons that keep coming. Protecting Mellie and fighting demons prove to be difficult, even for the exorcists. But Nina is unshakable in her determination to get Mellie to safety, and to ensure that the baby will be born healthy and live.

Nina has flourished as an exorcist, and she works well with the team. Finn, Maddock, Reese, and Devi are also exorcists, and Grayson is waiting for her abilities to be triggered. Attack after attack prove over and over that this young group of exorcists are brave, selfless, and intelligent. 

It all comes down to Kastor and Pandemonia, and you know it's coming. With the group in the badlands, far from the Church, there is plenty of foreshadowing in terms of Pandemonia. The ending of the book is fairly satisfying, with a lot of action and twists and turns.

I thought the romance was a little less present in this book, in terms of Finn and Nina, but maybe I was hoping for too much! Still, the romance is sweet and light, and there is no love triangle. I consider that a win!

I won't say too much more so as not to spoil anything, but I enjoyed this story and I'm glad that it's a duology, because things ended fairly well. There are heartbreaking moments and terrifying moments, but the ending is satisfying. Definitely how I like to see series end!

What I Did Not Like:

I will say that the climax of the book felt underwhelming. All of that build-up leading to Pandemonia, and then we get to Pandemonia, and all of the climax seemed short and anticlimactic. This could just be me though!

And, like, I said, there was probably less romance in this book! I expected more romance, so you can see why I might be just a little disappointed here. Just a little!

Would I Recommend It:

If you read book one, I highly recommend this book! It's an excellent conclusion, filled with action and high stakes and surprises. It'll keep you on your toes!

Rating:

3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I think I liked the first book better, BUT, I liked this one too. Both are good, and I'm glad I was able to give each a chance.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

30 comments:

  1. Oh! I thought it was a trilogy! So glad to hear it's a duology because I do have both books now so I can binge read the series!
    Thank you for the great reviews as always, Alyssa!

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    1. Nope, just a duology! Which is why I strategically binge-read both books now. :D If you read them, I hope you enjoy them, Pili! Thank you. <333

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  2. I'm glad to hear you binge-read and liked these books, Alyssa. I was suprised by how good it was when I read the first book too. I'm not sure why it's such an underrated series. The romance is weird, but it's so hard not to ship those two. I love Finn so much! <3
    I can't wait to pick book 2 up!
    Fab reviews!

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    1. You gave me the push I needed, when I read your review of The Stars Never Rise! I remembered how much you enjoyed it. The romance weirded me out so much initially, but I was hoping for a good outcome (and there was one!).

      I hope you enjoy The Flame Never Dies!

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  3. I haven't heard of this series but it sounds like it's going on my shopping lists!

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    1. Yaasss! I hope you enjoy the series, Andria!

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  4. Hmmm, and underrated series Nick. That peaks my interest as much as Alyssa's review.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  5. This sounds really interesting! I've loved Rachel Vincent's books in the past so I'm definitely adding this to my TBR! Great reviews :)

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    1. Woohoo! I'm very happy to hear that! Thank you, Tia. <333

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  6. Ooh! I just bought The Stars Never Rise from Book Outlet... I'm excited to start the series now! Lovely double review <3

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    1. AHH! That's awesome! I hope you enjoy the series, Emily. ^_^

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  7. Excellent reviews!! I need to start this series for sure. I keep reading positive reviews for it. 😀😀

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  8. I guess I should binge this series now! I love a duet I can do together. So far my hesitation has been the Finn thing. I don't know if it will weird me out too much?! But I'm glad you liked this! Thanks for the thorough review of the two books.

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    1. It's a great duology to binge-read! The romance is very shippable and has a VERY good ending. If you read the series, you'll see why I was so weirded out, in book one. But like I said, no love triangle and such!

      Thank YOU, Lauren! <3

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  9. I've heard amazing things about this duology and now with your reviews I'll definitely be binge-ing it!

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    1. YAY! I hope you love the books, Eileen!

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  10. Oooh, I didn’t know that this one was about exorcisms! Definitely sounds interesting... and haha, I totally agree–I think about those old movies with the priest yelling “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU” or something like that. I’m definitely looking forward to picking up this duology. Great review :D

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    1. It was a unique concept for sure! No tying anyone down for compelling anyone or holy water shenanigans. I hope you love the books, Rabiah! Thank you. <3

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  11. First, THESE COVERS!!! *heart eyes* I love them! This is definitely underrated since I haven't seen it around but ahh I want to read them now! And only two books?! Yes! Easier and faster to read :D
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

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    1. Aren't they amazing? Yup, only a duology. I LOVE duologies. ^_^

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  12. This is one of those series I really want to read. Mostly cause of Nick but also because it just sounds damn good. Happy to hear you really liked both of these!

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

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    1. Nick really liked book one, which was one of the reasons why I pushed myself to read the series! I'm glad I gave them a chance. I hope you like them too, Nereyda!

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  13. Amazing review Alyssa! Ok I didn't read the second review because I really do want too check this book out soon, because now I am really intrigued and curious about what is so weird about Finn. That I am itching too check this book out from the library soon but I am just going to wait a while too check it out from the library. Thank you for the awesome post my friend.

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    1. Thank you! Finn has a weird thing going on, it's hard to difficult and VERY spoiler-y. :D It's not too bad though, once you get used to it.

      Thank YOU!

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  14. I love Rachel Vincent, but I still haven't read this duology and I don't know why. I love that the romance is weird, though, it makes me want to know why, lol.

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    1. Awww! This series was pretty great, though I obviously can't compare it to her previous YA books. The romance is weird but very shippy!

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  15. Gorgeous double reviews Alyssa :D I am so glad you enjoyed both books a bunch. <3 YAY :D Book one was a three star for me, but I did like it :) And I'm so curious about the sequel. But ahh. Less romance? :( That makes me so sad. Sigh. But yay for no new guy, haha :D The romance was SO WEIRD. I don't know how it will end up working out :( But I hope it will work. Fingers crossed :) Anyway. So glad you liked them both. <3

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    1. Less romance, but the romance makes more sense. Like, it becomes less weird (thank goodness).

      Thank you!

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