Radiance by Grace Draven
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3.5 star. So, in case any of you fans are thinking of sending me one of those scarpatine pies, please do so after reading my explanation.
The book is written very well. The high rating and the synopsis made me “quiver” with anticipation of a good story, good characters, and of course, good writing. In a way, the book delivers that. I like the writing. I think the author is good in describing scenes after scenes. I especially enjoy reading the world building (to be fair, I don’t read many fantasy books after Harry Potter). The characters are lovable. Well, after reading too many douche-y alpha males in harlequins and historicals, this is a good “change of scenery”.
Despite everything, I still think it lacks…something? First of all, maybe because I started this book expecting to read about human and non-human romance, but it ended to be very…human? Throughout the early chapters it has been stressed – REPEATEDLY – that the Kais are not human. In the beginning, it had been stressed that Kais and humans had different beauty standard. Ok, fine. I automatically assume that since the two species have difference perspective of beauty, they should have different ways of thinking, habits, and culture etc. But aside from potatoes and scarpatine pies, I don’t see much difference. I think I wouldn’t mind this much if this aspect was not what had sold me to the book.
To me, the characters, while lovable, are not complex enough. Well, each of them got a good start. But from there, I wish I could see more of their characters rather than being told they are this and that. Take Anhuset for example. I love Anhuset. I could get a good grasp of her basic character. But, I also would like to explore the nature of her relationship with Brishen. Okay, they were cousins as well as childhood friends. But why? How? It’s like I as reader just have to take it as it is. The same goes for Brishen. I know that he is described as being different from his (nuclear) family because he had been raised by his nanny instead of his mother. But I do believe that, for better or worse, he is still Secmis’ (and Djedor’s) son. Honestly I couldn’t believe he didn’t share one or two traits from mommy or daddy.
And then there’s the conflict. Or, in my own words: WHAT CONFLICT? While I do realize that the books stresses on how Ildiko adapted to the Kai culture, I think Ildiko and Brishen’s relationship is too…easy? If not for the world building, I would have stopped reading. And the intrigues in the story are just…not interesting enough. So once I got past the part where Ildiko and Brishen consummated their relationship, I had to push myself to read it, thus explaining why it has taken me weeks to finish this book.
Overall, it’s a good book. But considering I had to force myself to read the last 20%, I don’t know if I’m continuing to the next book in the series.
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