Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: Fearless by Robin Parrish (Dominion Trilogy #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fast moving second half with a great climax
Cons: Slow first half; little character development
The Bottom Line:
Middle trilogy
Unfortunately shows it
Good; others better

Is Grant Fearless Enough to Escape the Secretum?

Three months ago, I read the first book in the Dominion Trilogy by Robin Parrish.  I couldn't put it down and immediately added the next two to my Christmas list.  Naturally, reading the second book was a high priority after I got them.  Fearless has more flaws then the original did, but it was still an enjoyable read.

If you are planning to read the trilogy, stop now.  What I am about to say will spoil the first book, but there's no way to talk about this one without running that risk.

For those who missed the first book, we followed a man as he was "shifted" from his old life into a new body.  The newly named Grant Borrows discovers more like him.  He and the other "ringwearers" have various enhanced mental abilities.  Grant is able to move any object with his mind.  But he also discovered that an evil society called The Secretum is behind all these shifts and they think Grant is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, a destiny that Grant tries to fight.

This book opens two months after the first one ended.  In that time, the world as we know it has ended.  There are emergencies and natural disasters everywhere.  Los Angeles is only surviving thanks to the help of Grant under his guise as "Guardian."  He's using his ability to move any object with his mind as a super power leading the rest of the ringwearers in a quest to help restore order to the city.

But their actions have caught the eye of the Federal Government who isn't pleased with these powerful beings.  FBI agent Ethan Cooke has been assigned to find out who Guardian really is and bring him in if he can't make him stop.

Since the Secretum has been silent for the time, Grant begins to feel like he's put that evil group behind him.  But then mysterious signs begin to come true.  Is Grant still destined to be The Bringer?  Can he avoid this destiny?

Do not misunderstand the rest of the review.  I did enjoy this book.  But it suffers from what I like to call middle book syndrome.  Any time I read or watch a trilogy that knows it is a trilogy from the start, I feel like the middle part is just marking time between the beginning and the end.  That's certainly the case here.

The story starts pretty slowly in the first half of the book.  In fact, it is really just a collection of episodes with just the barest hint of a plot thread running through them.  They are entertaining, but they certainly didn't grab me like the first book did.

All that changes in the second half.  Here, the story kicks into high gear and we get twists, turns, revelations, and more questions.  I couldn't put it down and got through this half in about 36 hours.

The characters suffer as well.  I felt several of them were well developed in the first book, but here all of them are marking time.  There is little in the way of new character development out side of one relationship.  We don't really get to know any more of the background characters, and the leads don't develop any further.  Again, what's here is fine.  But I just didn't connect with them in the same way I did in the first book.

Part of that problem is because they are never reintroduced.  The book has a one page summary of the previous 400 page novel.  That's it.  And when characters walk back on stage, we aren't given any reminder who they are or what kind of power they have until it comes into play in the story.  One character has a terminal illness, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is.  It had only been three months since I read the first book, so I can't imagine how I would have handled a longer break between entries.

The writing is more polished then in the first book, but there were still an occasional phrase that struck me wrong.  Still, I was able to fly through the pages.

I still recommend Fearless, but only after you've read the first in the series.  I will certainly be moving on very soon.

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