Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Fateful by Claudia Gray
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 328
Received: Borrowed ARC
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship they’re sailing on reaches the United States, she’ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets....

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and they’re stalking him—and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.


I'll never let go, Jack

That's a lie. I'd totally let go of Fateful. Fateful was really easy to put down. I had no trouble putting it down to eat, sleep, and even do laundry. I didn't feel that urgent pull to find out what happens next (but I didn't want to DNF it either).

I think this is mostly because not much was happening. All said and done, there aren't a ton of Major Events.

But, when I did pick it up I was immediately absorbed. There might not have been a whole lot going on, but I was transported aboard the Titanic and, setting junky that I am, I loved exploring the Titanic with Tess. Tess is traveling in third class, but she has plenty of opportunity to wander around first class, so I got to see a bunch of the ship.

Servants are not to be seen or heard

Though the book is narrated using Tess's first person perspective, it almost felt like third person. I felt a distance between Tess and myself that is natural and ok for a third person narration, but strange when I'm living in her head for so long. I feel like I only got to know her in the tip of the iceberg sense (get it?? Too corny?).

I know her hopes and dreams, kind of, but they felt sort of stock. A servant who wants a better life? Ok, sure, what main character servant doesn't have that dream? I've never read about a servant who proclaimed the linens would have to be pried from her cold dead hands before she gave up her dream to clean. But what else is there to Tess? She gets a lower score on the WWMCD test.

That said, I did like Tess. She was a pretty smart cookie and she did have some fire to her. I SO appreciated how practical she was about things sometimes. She didn't mess around when it came to looking out for herself.

Everyone else

I said not much happened, and as far as events go that's true. But gossip? Backstories? Oh there was a ton of that! It was all slowly uncovered, too, which is probably the biggest thing that kept me turning the pages (that, and I really wanted to see the ship sink).

The stories of the side characters were like mini-tragedies and they grabbed my heart a lot more than Tess's plight. Irene was an especially sympathetic character and I almost wish she had been the MC instead of Tess. She had a lot more character growth and her upstairs/downstairs relationship rang a lot truer than Tess's.

Cry me a river, weenie boy

Alec (the romantic interest) is a nice guy. I like him. But did I swoon? Nope, I did not. He's the kind of guy that I can objectively say would be a great catch, but as a book boyfriend he just didn't do it for me. I like my book guys to be a little more alpha and with a little more personality.

I was also disappointed that Alec doesn't particularly relish his paranormal situation. He rides the line of the morose "I'm cursed and I'm dangerous and you should go far away from me even if it breaks our hearts" blah, blah, blah.

Oh poor freaking you. That whole woe is me bit makes me totally roll my eyes because, come on, half the fun of reading about paranormal creatures is because I get to vicariously BE a paranormal creature with all their cool powers and stuff. You wouldn't see me whining if I was a werewolf (although, to be fair, Alex's situation does sort of suck sometimes. And he doesn't even get to sparkle).

So listening to him whine about how it's such a cross to bear really doesn't do it for me. Plus it just makes the guy seem like a crybaby, which is so NOT what I want in a guy. Or a story. That's just boring.

I guess technically the romance is insta-love, but it didn't bother me. Maybe because this is an historical and things were different then? Whatever the reason, and despite my lack of swoon for Alex, I was rooting for their relationship.

Ouch! Anyone have some ice for my eyeroll sprains?

I almost lost a contact lens due to eyeroll sprains from:


Tess's first time having sex and how it totally didn't hurt at all because it was filled with magical rainbows of true love.

When Alex can resist the magical werewolf compulsion because he loves her so much. I thought this was supposed to be this totally uncontrollable thing where the wolf takes over and this is why Alex is such a moping mess. But then, uh, suddenly it's not? And the only explanation is because he loves her?? Dude, that would be hard to swallow normally, but given the insta-love on top of it? Totally not buying it.

She knows how to avoid having a baby. Tess actually got on my nerves with how adamant and almost bragging she was about this special knowledge she possessed. But, um, how was she pulling this off with 100% certainty in 1912?? Does the magic of love work as super perfect birth control, too?

Secret societies!

Bonus points for secret societies! I love secret societies. They're woven in with the werewolf lore here and it's really cool. It gives the feeling that there's so much more depth to the secret society and its history and we're only scratching the surface.

Except, the more I thought about this, the more I realized that I wish Claudia Gray had scratched off a little more.

There's no explanation for how the society came to be, how they got their magic, what exactly they do, and how they're organized. Given this is a standalone, and so I won't be getting any more details about the society, I'm kind of bummed about this lack of detail.

Iceberg, right ahead!

The lead up to the Titanic sinking was fantastic. Tess is one of the first people to see the water filling the ship and she immediately gets it. She knows this ship is going down and she knows she needs to get off RIGHT NOW.

Tess's realization that there are not enough lifeboats to save everyone and that a significant number of people will die was devastating. The little scenes where various characters recognized the reality of the situation totally gutted me.

But then it was over!

I was all prepared to crouch on top of the ship with Jack coaching Rose about when she should close her eyes and hold her breath and swim as hard as she can because the ship is going to suck them down with it. I was ready to see the people plummetting to their deaths. I was ready to sit in the frigid water for hours while Jack slowly froze to death.

Or, you know, Alec and Tess.

I wanted to see all of the characters I had grown to love (and hate) die (or live). Basically, I was ready to sit back and watch the horror unfold before my eyes. Except I didn't get that. Tess takes a blow to the head early on and wakes up after help arrives.

Uh, lame? I totally needed to rent Titanic so I could get my ship sinking fix after that letdown.

Really? (If I could quirk one eyebrow, I would SO do that now)

And then the ending! Gah, I'm not a fan. It was just way too convenient. The last bit of PERIL! felt cheesy and the whole thing felt too neat to me.

Bottom line

I like that Fateful is a standalone and it felt like this was the right amount of pages to tell Tess's story, but I wish the telling had been a little different. I was LOVING the beginning, but the final third left a meh taste in my mouth.

Overall I liked it, I'm glad I read it, and I will be checking out more books by Claudia Gray (this is my first), but the eyerolling and disappointments make it so I probably wouldn't read more if it were a series. I am curious about that secret society though.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Fateful that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

*I've used the UK cover above because I think it's the prettiest.

Want to see what Ruby (the expert in all things Hot Werewolf) thought about Fateful? Click here to read her review! Check out our Historical Fantasy Jubilee full schedule of events and giveaways!

Have you entered to win our prize pack giveaways?


  1. Aww!! too bad for the Meh-after taste!
    i kind of wanna read this book, but now I think it can wait. I've had trouble reading things that are easily put down, lately, I just can't focus sometimes.

  2. Sometimes, when you write such clever and comical reviews, I don't know how to respond. *wipes away a tear* I laughed so hard at some points and seriously though about other parts. This book didn't rank that high for me either - too many undermining qualities - but it didn't SUCK.

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  3. Alex, I'm having a focusing problem now too. I'm in the middle of...four books. Only one is really holding my attention. Logan LOVED Fateful though, so maybe don't write it off completely. :)

    Asher, Aaaww thank you! I agree, it didn't SUCK at all, but it wasn't perfect either. It was like going on a date that was fun, but I'm not looking to make plans with the guy again.

  4. Oh, I forgot that Logan reviewed Fateful because I was avoiding reviews of this one until after I'd read it. I'm going to have to search her review out and see why we had such different opinions.

    I just have to say that Irene's storyline disappointed me because of the similarity to her brothers. Certainly the rich can have other problems?

    We're totally on the same page with Alec. Weenie boy, indeed. What a letdown.

  5. "I'll never let go, Jack." *Snicker* I made the exact comment when I first heard about this book. While I love the cover of the book, I would be in too much eye-rolling pain to read this book. About the spoiler.. did it also take place in a car? *Grins* Love the comical review, Small!

  6. OMG! I'm cracking up over your spoiler section. I never knew the magic of true love was an effective form of BC. Silly me.

  7. Ha ha, I loved your review. It's the first one I've seen that wasn't gushing over Fateful so I feel like I got a more detailed picture about what worked and didn't. I have this on my wishlist because it's related to the Titanic but am disappointed to find out from you that you don't even get to really see the ship sink. Where's all the good stuff when you want it?

    I'll keep this one on my wishlist but I'm not in any hurry to read it. You know how you felt meh about the final third of this one? Well, Gray's Evernight series slowly went downhill for me.

  8. That's so sad! Okay, so I do love gossip. Is that bad? Am I a terrible person? Anyway, this book sounds okay, a bit more mmmm than yay, but still I want to try it..I want to read about that ship going bye bye too. :) Great review.

  9. I read other meh reviews of this book and I am not a fan of huge tragedies so I wasn't looking forward to this. I was glad I didn't get this one. I did wonder how I werewolf would do swimming. I thought he body hair would keep him warm but a la Stephanie Meyer, they said they couldn't swim in their altered form. So I wondered about that. That's it.
    I'm probably the only girl in the world that did not watch Titanic.

    Thanks for the blow by blow!


  10. LOL! I love how your review always cracks me up! And it's funny, because I was about to pick this book up, and now I'm glad I didn't give in to the temptation.

    I read the first book in Gray's vampire series (Evernight), and I really didn't find it that great. But now that she has a werewolf book out, I'm on the fence. Actually, I still am after reading your review (your spoilers section was a clear indication that I'd find it exasperating XD ).

    Anyhoo, awesome review as always. =)

  11. I have an ARC on my shelf, so I'll be reading this one eventually no matter what. It seems like it's gotten a lot of mediocre reviews, but I guess that's better than bad ones, right?

  12. Ruby, I remembered she Special Shelf-ed it and everything. I felt so bad! You're right about the similarities in stories. I liked Irene's better though because I cared about her whereas her brother was an ass. Alec was a let down, especially as a werewolf. :(

    Rummanah, hehe how can you NOT get flashes of Titanic quotes? :P It did not take place in a car, thankfully!

    Missie, :) To be fair, that particular benefit of true love is not actually stated by the author. Tess just knew a method, but she didn't share what it was.

    A Canadian Girl, Ruby didn't like it much either, unfortunately. I was SO disappointed I didn't get to see the ship sink! I was all ready to cry and grip my book, but then no. Ah, too bad about the Evernight series. I think I actually own the last book. Darn :P

    Nina, Pfft if that's bad and you're a terrible person, then I'm right there with you! Bring on the gossip! :D

    Heather, YOU HAVEN'T SEEN TITANIC?!!? Don't worry, I've probably seen it enough times for both of us. :P I don't know how the werewolves handled the swimming issue because I never even got to see them touch one toe into the water.

    Dazzling Mage, Thank you! You might still like it? I've read a lot more glowing reviews than not. That's disappointing to hear about her vampire series. I was hoping it would be better :(

    Natalie, Yes mediocre is definitely better than bad. I still enjoyed it. If you need motivation, check out Logan's review (I linked it earlier in the comments). She LOVED it. Hopefully you'll agree with her and not me :)

  13. I honestly only very recently found out this was set on the Titanic, so that alone made me really want to read it. Then you say they don't even die in the end? Together? Floating down into the dark abyss clutching each other!? I'm usually a fan of happy endings but they're on the freaking titanic! It would have been a killer ending I think.
    *sigh* It still sounds interesting though, even if the werewolf doesn't sparkle psh ;D

  14. Laura, I'm not going to spoil the end, but you will be both happy and disappointed with the ending if that's what you want. :)

  15. I liked this one more than you or Ruby, but I can get on board with some of the eyeroll spraining and that ridiculous ending. You guys are doing an excellent job of convincing me I didn't like this as much as I thought I did. But I will stand strong.

    I wanted more of the secret society too. I LOVE THEM, and a bit more history or explanation would have made this richer.

  16. I'm kind of surprised that this one sounds a bit slower, with less action than I would have expected. I'm probably placing my expectations on it based on the movie, like it sounds you are, but I would've at least expected lots of excitement to go down as the ship was sinking. A shame.

  17. Logan, Oh no! Don't doubt your love! There's nothing like the glow of book love, and I don't want to take that away from you :) Stand strong!

    Aylee, I know, you'd think there would be a ton of action what with werewolves AND the sinking of the Titanic. But no. In the movie terms, think of it like there was a lot of time spent where Jack and Rose were walking around the ship and dancing in third class (Tess and Alec do that too) and just kind of hanging out on the ship. Then when the movie got exciting with the sinking, Fateful cuts off. So not much action and lots of disappointment.


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