I have been waiting for freaking ever to post about this book
So, I wanted to wait until I had officially finished reading this book to write a review of it. And I didn't make it to writing group tonight (did we even have that?), so this will have to do.
The Vivatera--Secrets of Everstar is the first novel of Candace J. Thomas, an amazing writer in my critique group. It was published last Augustish. Candace is so clever with her plots and her humor. Her easy voice will pull you in while she weaves a complicated story around you so that you feel as if you are there in the world she has created. If you're a fan of fantasy, this is a world you will want to enter.
Naomi Bucklingdown has no idea of the importance of her survival; her only clue is a mark on her neck – An interweaving star. In a fast moment Naomi’s life changes forever when she discovers a young woman with the same unusual mark on her neck, but before she can reach her she is kidnapped; spirited away by a mysterious stranger, Reynolds Fairborne. Reynolds alone knows the secret of Naomi’s identity. Only he knows the danger she would face if she were ever discovered, for the Kingdom of Parbraven is poisoned by magic and the only hope for survival lies in a secret only Naomi has. This is where her journey of discovery begins and her true identity is about to be revealed.
It took me too long to get into this book. But, having said that, some of my favorite books took me a long time to get into (because good, complicated plots take a while to set up). Also, I should say I read this with a much more critical eye than I do most books because Candace is in my critique group. I'd like to go back and read it just for enjoyment. AND, fantasy worlds are WAY out of my genre; writing is writing, but genres each have their own rules, and I know there are some here I will probably never understand.
The Vivatera basically starts with a lot of action and shoots around to a lot of different scenes and introducing new characters, and I think that is why it took me so long to connect with the main character, Naomi. Even by the middle of the book, I was still unconvinced that Naomi was a heroine I should be rooting for. I didn't hate her, but I had no real reason to particularly like her either. Everyone in the story was really drawn to her, but only because she had this mysterious magical pull on them, not because of anything she ever said or did. She was nice and pretty, but those hardly overshadowed that she was also confused, reckless, helpless and gullible (great qualities for a MC to grow out of btw). And then there was the hundred page climax and the unsatisfactory falling action. What? She doesn't end up with Reynolds? Not that the tiny amount of time she spent with him at the very beginning of the book made me believe they'd developed enough of a bond between them to last through the rest of the novel.
Okay, and if you're still with me, I LOVED this book--because I know that there is more coming. The possibilites opened up and all the little stories started coming together as all the different characters met at the mountain, which I really liked. Naomi herself is somewhat uninteresting (not who she is or what she represents--that's interesting), but Reynolds and Ry, and what Reynolds did when they were kids? That's intriguing, not to mention how unlikely of a couple Naomi and Reynolds are--the conflict there is fantastic. (Do I love him? Oh, wait. He ruined my life). I loved Naomi's three friends in the camp. All three of them are very believable, even endearing, and their stories are interesting. All the death scenes are necessary and tastefully done. I cannot wait to see what happens with Bryant, Zander, the remaining sisters, the mother, Parbraven, and life as we know it. I can't wait to see what Naomi does with the information she now has. Will it build her character, or will she crack under the pressure? Sequel please!