Description from Goodreads:
To keep her safe, Hazel Michelli’s parents never told her she was adopted, or that her birthplace was in an alternative land where magic and monsters exist. She found out the truth the day a ferocious winged creature stole her from her Denver apartment and delivered her to Lucian, the sadistic Lifeforce magician who happens to be Hazel’s biological father.
“Dysfunctional family” takes on new meaning when she learns Lucian must sacrifice a daughter to maintain immortality and take over the Realm. When Hazel’s younger half-sister disappears just days before the Rite, Lucian moves Hazel to the top of the sacrificial short list.
Afraid, yet compelled to protect her four-year-old half-sister, Hazel races between both worlds, searching for Meara while being hunted by Lucian. Their lives, and the future of the Realm, leave her no room for failure.
✯✯✯ Spoiler Alert ✯✯✯
I wish to discuss aspects of this book that I liked and/or disliked. It would be far more difficult and less informative to not use examples to do this. Thus, this review has quite a few spoilers. If you’d like to avoid these you might want to skip to the last paragraph. You’ve been warned.
I really wish that there had been something in the description to clue me in to the fact that this is a YA novel. I’m afraid I was taken by surprise with that. I mean the main character, Hazel, is 26 after all!
Ok, maybe it’s not really YA fiction, but I think it really wanted to be. It reads like it does. So, the odd adult moments, like Tessra’s come-ons, seemed horrendously out of place. While Hazel’s hesitation about admitting to her parents that she’s had sex clashed harshly with her age and lifestyle. Again, she’s 26, has lived on her own since graduating high school and had at least one steady boyfriend. I think her parents probably knew she was sexually active. So, as a character, she really needed to be more confident in her sexuality or 16. The latter would have made sense with the rest of the book as well as Hazel’s basic personality.
I suppose what I’m getting at isn’t really about Hazel at all. Rather it’s a matter of the book needing to choose a genre and fit it. I have no problem with genre crossing in terms of Sci-fi/Fantasy or Action Adventure/Mystery, but Adult/Young Adult really is an either/or scenario. I don’t think Finding Meara knows where it wants to fall and it shows.
The whole thing also moves at a breakneck pace, and though that’s sometimes fun, here it just left me feeling like I was being drug behind a speeding train…Oh, we find out Hazel is a compulsive gambler with uncannily good luck. Oh, she’s attacked and kidnapped. Oh, she’s transported to a foreign realm. Oh, she discovers talking and other manner of magical creatures. Oh, she escapes. Oh, she possibly falls in love. Oh, she’s attacked again, but escapes. Oh, she finds out she’s pregnant. (WTF? Where did that come from?) Oh, she’s attacked again. Oh, she finds out she’s adopted. Oh, she finds out she has a stepsister. Oh, she finds out she has to return to mystery realm and apparently only she can do it—not sure why only her though. Oh, that’s only the first 1/4 of the book, roughly 65 pages! It’s too much, too quickly. I couldn’t breath, keep up, or enjoy it. I was never given a moment to get to know Hazel, anyone else or the world(s) the book is set in.
In fact, beyond being told that the land has been parcelled off and the number of immortals and Daragwards limited to one per area there is almost no world building at all! I have no idea why Lucian is allowed to sacrifice his female offspring. I don’t know how it works and if a woman could sacrifice her sons and become immortal, or if this is one more example, so common in fiction, of the disposability of females—where a 12 year old boy is given more social worth than a full grown woman. I don’t know if there is a government or any religion. I don’t even know if the Adven Realm is a city, country, continent or something else.
Then there were the romances, which again I was caught off guard by. There was nothing about romance in the description. But, more importantly, neither of them made much sense. One was a…well not insta-love, but insta-relationship. You know the sort where two people meet, are attracted and instantly have something real and meaningful? No kiss is just a kiss. It’s a kiss full off hope and promise. Drives me nuts. The other was all about denial, but why? The position of Daragward is apparently a hereditary title, passed from father to son. So there is nothing to suggest that a Daragward can’t have a mate. In fact, it kind of requires it. Why all the angst then?
The plain fact of the matter is that I dimly didn’t like the book. The writing was fine. The editing was fine—I only noticed one or two major mishaps. The idea behind the story is an interesting one. It has an eye-catching cover. I even liked some of the characters. But there was just so much else that I didn’t like. It all might be personal dislike kind of stuff, but there is all the same.