Thursday, 1 March 2012

Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

Arcadia Awakens
by Kai Meyer

Summary: To New Yorker Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic, and wholly unknown. But when tragedy strikes, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where her sister and aunt have built their lives and where centuries of family secrets await her. Once there, Rosa wastes no time falling head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both intrigue and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.

Ancient myths brought to life in the Sicilian countryside, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a long history of familial bloodlust prove to Rosa that she can’t trust anyone—not even her own family. Torn between loyalty to her aunt and love for her family’s mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love . . . or run as far and as fast as she can.
I got off to kind of a rocky start with this book - the first chapter had me hooked and seemed really awesome then it kind of went downhill a bit, with the pace seeming to slow way down and start to drag and a writing style that I wasn't fond of, but I stuck with it and by the time I finished the last page, I really liked the book.

The story was filled with lots of awesomeness: forbidden romance, Italy, the Mafia, shapeshifters and all that good stuff. I loved all of those things and it was really original. The Mafia thing interested me especially - I read a YA book a while ago because the summary mentioned it having a Mafia element to it and it was pretty much a disappointment, this book wasn't. It didn't sugarcoat the crime or violence or have good and bad be a black and white thing, there was plenty of shades of gray and I loved that, that the Mafia aspect wasn't watered down because the book is aimed at teens.

The characters - I really liked them from the start (well, in some cases it was more loving to hate them but they were bad guys so that was intentional). I thought Rosa was pretty awesome and she was one of those characters that makes a good impression right from the first page and hooked my interest - I didn't really connect to her or the other characters (maybe because of the writing style), but I liked them and wanted things to work out for them.

I loved the romance in the book, it felt really subtle and I liked that. It was your typical forbidden romance where the characters seem to fall pretty fast but it never felt like I was reading a book where the romance was the plot and everything else was just a subplot to go with it like so many other YA paranormal romance books do, it felt a bit more natural than that and the romance didn't dominate the story.

I really think the writing style was the only thing I had issues with. It wasn't bad, far from it, it's just that I'm not a fan of books that are very description heavy* or dialogue light or ones that skip over scenes I'd like to read and just briefly sum up later (that frustrated me quite a bit and a lot of conversations in the book seemed to end on cliffhangers), and it was third person which is my least favourite style of narration

But that was more about my personal preference than a flaw in the book and in the last 150 or so pages of the book when the pace started to pick up it stopped bothering me and in the end, I liked it in spite of the writing style not really being my kind of thing.

There's not really all that much positive things I can say without giving spoilers - my favourite part of the book was the shapeshifter storyline and the bits left hanging to set up for the sequel but that's something I really can't talk about without spoilers.

This is one of those books that I struggle to find things to say about it, especially positive things, beyond "I really liked it" - not because there were a lack of good things in the book, they're just not easy to put into words.

I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5 (the writing style was the main thing holding it back from a higher rating for me).


*The thing about books that have a lot of setting description that bothers me: It annoys me when I'm dying to know what's happening with the characters or what'll happen next in the plot when I have to read through long descriptions of the setting to get to the stuff that interests me. I like some description, just not a lot of it because I tend to picture things my own way regardless of how the setting is described unless the details of the setting are crucial to the plot. I'm impatient.


  1. I know what you mean about the writing style and I think it has a lot to do with the author being German. It was different than a lot of books and it was hard to get used to. I did love this book though. I can't wait until next year when they publish the sequel in the US! Great review!

  2. No, I don't like it either when there's not a lot of dialogue. AND skipping over scenes? Not. Cool. So that's a negative for this book, but I do like the idea of Italian Mafia AND romance of the forbidden nature. Maybe I'll get to it at some point, and I'm in no rush...


    1. It wasn't bad...the skipping over things was just more - personal preference. Like, for example, the main character is sitting in a car being driven to go meet the love interest and then it jumps to her sitting with him on a boat and it skips over all the interactions and things that happened in between with him and the other characters - and it's probably because the writer didn't feel they were important, but I'm kind of a sucker for dialogue and scenes that show characters getting to know each other and I'd prefer that to excessive descriptions of scenery and decor of whatever place they're in. =P

      So yeah, you might love the writing and completely disagree with me once you read it. :)



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