by RICHELLE MEAD
Format: Paperback, 480/384 pages
Publisher: Bantam Books / Zebra Books (August 2009)
About a year ago, I read and reviewed the first book of Dark Swan series, Storm Born, which came as a pleasant surprise. Naturally, I was excited to hear that the sequel was coming out this year and when I got the book, I started reading it as soon as I could find some time. Sadly, I have to say that it wasn't worth it.
The beginning once again introduces us to Eugenie's everyday (which I found pretty nice since I'd forgotten most of what has happened in the first book). This time around, Eugenie spends most of her days in Otherworld, since she is now the Thorn Queen there. Her country, being magical, has changed to suit her, but the inhabitants of Thorn Land have some hard time adapting to the climate changes. Eugenie is distraught and wants to help them, but by doing so, she has to put her talents to use, learn some more magic and decide on where her loyalties lie.
The plot is promising and pretty well-written, even if it seems that we've heard it all before. It's too bad that Mead doesn't leave it at that, but instead proceeds to throw in the element of paranormal romance – quite a lot of it. It seemed as if every chapter ended with a long scene of Eugenie and Kiyo having wild, rough sex. These love scenes are not even good, and after reading two or three of them, I simply started skipping them, because they were all the same. It was pretty annoying, not to mention being a really obvious filler for when Mead got out of ideas or simply wanted to prolong the book (without the sex scenes, it would've been shorter for at least a half) – I can't even say that she wanted to spice things up a bit, because it was all so utterly boring.
The humour, which I enjoyed quite a lot in the first book, has now faltered as well; in Thorn Queen, dialogues seem watered down and uninteresting. I admit I was under a lot of stress at the time of reading this book, so that might have influenced my views a bit, but I still think the fault lies mostly in Mead's writing. There was some lack of research on her part that did nothing to improve things – I could hardly laugh at Ladyxmara72 (a girl who met Eugenie in person and insisted on being addressed with her World of Warcraft character name), when I find it almost common knowledge that WoW characters can't have numbers in their names. It's a very silly, not to say sloppy mistake, but it destroyed that character for me, rendering her completely unconvincing. You can't submerge yourself into plot that way, not when such mistakes make you aware that the characters are just a product of an author that did not do her research well enough and don't, by any chance, resemble real people. And I always thought geeks were the easiest characters to write, because there are so many stereotypes about them that are actually true in plenty of cases. Meh.
Thorn Queen is a huge step backwards from what we've seen in Storm Born. The plot is all but put on the sidetrack and the whole book mostly revolves about Eugenie's sexual life, when it should be the other way around. Thus, Thorn Queen firmly sets itself into the sub-genre of paranormal romance, and will probably appeal to fans of Twilight and the like. Too bad, really – the plot had much potential, but has become more of an excuse for sex scenes.