Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review: Betrayal by Gillian Shields

Betrayal (Immortal #2), by Gillian Shields
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 359
Received: Library
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Amazon Page 

WARNING! This review contains spoilers for book 1: Immortal.

Click if you would like to read my Immortal review
Click if you would like to read my Immortal cover review


Picking up where the first book ended, Evie and her friends attempt to find a way to free Sebastian from the pact he made over a century ago. As Evie struggles to learn the secrets of the Mystic Way, Sebastian rapidly degenerates and begins to descend into darkness. Complicating things for Evie is the evil sisterhood hoping to gain power through their bond with Sebastian. Evie knows she must win this race against time, or lose Sebastian forever.


In some ways this sequel is a definite improvement over the first book, Immortal. I had written in my review for Immortal that I had trouble connecting with Evie. Those problems were mostly gone in the second book. While Evie does not manage to fully attach herself to my heart, she has developed into a character I enjoy reading about. I was rooting for her as she tried to save Sebastian, and I felt for her when she ran across problems and uncomfortable situations.

Unfortunately, as Evie strengthened as a character, Sebastian and Evie’s friends weakened. Agnes, perhaps my favorite character from the first book, wasn’t even in this second book. Helen and Sarah, two characters I liked very much in the first book, were both far less developed in Betrayal. They read a lot more like interchangeable lackeys than the strong and likable girls they were in the first book. I was disappointed with this, as I really did like both of them in Immortal.  

Sebastian was an even bigger disappointment for me. In the first book he was charming, but also kind of scary. He had a reckless madness about himself and he always seemed to be balancing on a tightrope of morality, poised to tip off at any moment. He was the perfect Byronic character and truly embodied Gothic fiction. This dangerousness was exciting and made him an interesting character to read about. In Betrayal, Sebastian is a specter of himself. He’s lost his edge. Part of my disappointment stems from my own expectations, which perhaps isn’t entirely fair to the author. I’ll explain.

To me, the setup to Betrayal seemed to hint at, well, betrayal (I guess that’s a little more than a hint). The cover is filled with fire, the title is betrayal of all things, and the tag line reads, “Your heart tells you to trust, your head tells you to run.” The plot has Sebastian sliding into madness, temptation, and the dark side. I was totally expecting and hoping for an impassioned madman who would be truly dangerous to Evie. I was looking forward to reading about them sparring and trying to outwit one another. I wanted to see the dark side of Sebastian and the strength of Evie as she faced off against him and battled for his soul. Basically, I wanted Sebastian to go bad (think Angel when he turns into Angelus and delights in messing with Buffy’s head. Yeah, I’m a gigantic Buffy dork).

Instead I got a neutered Sebastian. Crippled, crying, and entirely too good. His slips into cruelty are fleeting and they’re treated more like how you would look at a beloved elderly person who suffers from dementia and sometimes lashes out at you. Yeah, it hurts, but you can’t and don’t blame them. You pity them, and that’s exactly what Sebastian was: Pitiful. He wasn’t even charming or attractive like he was in the first book. I was totally disappointed, but again, that is probably in large part due to my own hopes and expectations and not the author’s writing.

The plot also suffered in comparison to the first book. A lot more happened in Immortal, plus the mysteries and slow exploration of the secrets of the past were a lot more exciting. In Betrayal, the mysteries and villains were predictable and easily overcome, so this book lacked much of the tension of the first. I did still enjoy this plot, just not as much as the first book.

My other complaint is with the writing. In both this book and the first, Shields evokes a heavy, florid style designed to take the reader to the wild and emotional moors of Gothic fiction. I love this style, and Shields does a good job at transporting the reader (she’s even better in the second book). This is the case, at least, until one of her characters says something completely modern like “Yeah” or “Dad” (as opposed to “Yes” or “Father”). Whenever this happens, I find myself jarred out of the atmosphere she had so elegantly created. This seems especially unnatural because the characters will mix a very modern style of speaking with a very 1800s style of speech and so it sounds pretty unbelievable.

Still, despite all that, there’s something about this series I like a lot. It’s hard for me to put my finger on why, but despite all the flaws, I still find myself craving the series. I’m caught up in the Gothic whirlwind of danger, secrets, magic, and romance. I want to go back to Wyldcliffe and roam its halls with Evie, dodging and spying on the evil teachers. I want to listen in as Evie unlocks the mysteries of the Talisman and the Mystic Way. Even with all my complaints, I’m excitedly awaiting the third book in the series, set for publication in August of 2011.  
Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

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  1. I had some trouble with Immortal. So I wasn't sure if I wanted to read Betrayal. But your review, change my mind. I think I will give it another try. Thanks for your review.

  2. I hope you enjoy it on round two. It took me a little while to get over some parts that seemed unbelievable (like their their insta-romance), but once I started looking at it as Gothic fiction that helped a lot. What trouble did you have?

  3. Hum I didn't even know there was a 2nd book to the immortal one, which I have on my shelf to be read. Another one to add. :)

  4. There's going to be a third book too! According to Goodreads, it comes out August 2011.

  5. Tell me about it! I can't keep up with the book world, but that's better than not having enough books to read!

  6. Yeah, that's true. I get caught up in one series, and I'm stuck on the series until it's over. So when the next book in the series comes out I kinda drop what I'm reading to read that book. If that makes sense.

  7. It makes perfect sense! There are a few books that I know, no matter what I'm doing or reading, I'm going to drop everything and read them when they come out.

  8. so I'm only on chapter 2, and my book project is due tomorrow D: I'm ''reading'' this book, and I don't know anything about it! can y'all help me answer some questions like...
    -what's a good picture to put as the setting?
    -what's the main idea?
    -who are the main characters?
    I really appreciated if y'all help me with some of these. (:

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. i love the 1 book,and i wanted to see if i should read the rest of the books. thanks:)


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