All That Glows by Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.
When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.
What I Liked:
When I first saw the cover of this book months ago, I was like, AHH, IT'S SO PRETTY! The cover model is pretty, but the cover design itself is rather breathtaking. I'm not a huge fan of pink, but I love the swirls of shades of pink and the occasional purple. The typography is stunning. I feel like the design team outdid themselves with this cover!
Anyway, the cover is beautiful, and oh my goodness, the WRITING STYLE is beautiful. There were so many wonderful parts to this book, including the writing style, the plot, the characters, the romance. Despite a review or two I saw from some other bloggers, I really liked this book, and I am glad that I still read this book, despite some negative reviews that did a great job of convincing me otherwise.
As I mentioned above, the writing is really something else. At first, I was like, there are wayyy too many similes. This author uses "like" or "as" or even the comparison "than", or metaphors, way too often. But, it seemed to work, after a while. I still think that there were wayyy too many comparisons going on, but it didn't bother me after a while. That aside, I really like Graudin's writing style. It's lyrical, almost, and while there are many descriptions, they're not all lumped together, and they aren't too boring.
At first, I thought the plot was a little simplistic and almost predictable. Protect the prince, figure out who is targeting the royal family. All the while, try not to fall in love with the prince. In a nutshell, it IS that simple, but it's so much more. The prince's life is at stake, but he's worth even more to Emrys because she loves him, and he loves her. Finding out who is sabotaging her Fae kingdom is also extremely important and significant, because there is a traitor in the ranks. The world is changing - both human and Fae - and Emrys and the others will have to choose. The plot doesn't seem overly complicated, and it's not, I suppose, but it's not clear-cut and obvious. There are some twists (not many), and I didn't really see the culprit coming.
I think I actually do really like Emrys. Throughout the story, I vacillated between liking her and rolling my eyes at her. OF COURSE she would let the prince see her. She's selfish, in that regard, and stupid, but then, I understand why she did it. She still risked and almost ruined everything, especially not knowing that she would fall in love with him, but I forgive her. Mostly.
I really, really like Richard. He isn't flat or one-dimensional, which is nice. At times, especially in the beginning, he seemed sub-par compared to Emrys, which bothered me for some reason, but as the story progressed, he really grew into his role and became quite the leader. Only then did he seem to rank alongside Emrys, and not behind her. He's swoony and lovable in a different way than what we're used to in YA literature.
Which leads me to my next point - the romance. This book is all about the romance between Emrys and Richard. While the romance does NOT directly affect the overall plot (which is the threat to the Fae kingdom and to the human royal family), the romance is very significant. However, I liked the Graudin didn't turn Richard into the sex-god male love interest. Richard is NOT just a love interest - he is an important protagonist in this story. His role is just as important as Emrys'.
The romance progresses throughout this book, though it may seem insta-lovey at first. I think it gradually developed, though at times, it seemed to move quicker than at other times. I think Richard and Emrys are a good fit for each other, and I really enjoyed reading their interactions.
Graudin really did her research, in terms of faeries and spells and lore and legends. I liked that she kept the spells authentic (in terms of the incantations). and how she twisted legends and old lore to fit her story. And, her portrayal of historical London is pretty great! Especially the effect on faeries - that was a nice touch.
Overall, this book is definitely a solid debut. It's a bit longer than the usual YA novel, but I rather like this, especially since this novel is a standalone novel. Graudin did an excellent job of pacing this story, as well as the romance within the story. I'll be reading more of Graudin's work!
What I Did Not Like:
There were a few things that bothered me - I already mentioned the writing style, in terms of the frequent comparisons. Right from the start, we're hit with an arsenal of comparisons, and it's a little odd and overwhelming. I've never seen so many comparisons used in a modern day YA novel. But, I suppose there is a first for everything!
I also was a bit put off by the ending. Don't get me wrong, it's a satisfactory ending, and all the characters get what they deserve (especially Titania). BUT, it wraps up a little *too* perfectly, you know? Everything happens exactly as a happy ending would call for, and that bothered me a bit. I almost saw a tragic ending coming... but it didn't happen. Everything wrapped up so nicely, with a cute little bow on the top.
Perfection, my friends, is so not the way to go. Wrapping up the ending with all your ducks in a row? No. Don't do that. It's so fake. Emrys gets her way, Richard gets his way, Herne gets his way, Mab gets what she was looking for, so does Titania, the royal family is safe, blah blah blah. I hope I didn't spoil anything there (really, I didn't, because some of those things are NOT what they seem - trust me).
Would I Recommend It:
Despite the few problems I had with this book, I would DEFINITELY recommend this novel! Especially to historical fiction fans, or fantasy fans. I usually hate books dealing directly with the faeries, because they're silly, usually, but I really enjoyed this one.
3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. A pretty awesome debut! I look forward to reading more of Graudin's book - especially her other upcoming release, The Walled City!
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