The Middle Book Syndrome

Haze - Paula Weston

 

"If they’re demons, what does that make you lot?"

Rafa taps his sword hilt. "The bastards who know how to kill them."

 

 

Rafa likes his testosterone sandwich with a dash of cheese. Just a dash, nothing more.

 

I've been fortunate enough to have picked my way to the more decent angel books out there and Paula Weston's Rephaim series is definitely one of the better ones. The first time I read Shadows I was taken by the witty characters, a strong, likable heroine and the mystery surrounding Gabe and Jude's accident. The second time I read it, I got a better appreciation of the bigger story arcs: the Rephaites pursuit of the Fallen and the friction between the Outcasts and Nathaniel's crew. Seeing as how difficult it is to get a copy of this book, I'm still trying to convince myself that what I read was legit. But since I got it from amazon… I guess I'm gonna have to blame my emotions towards this book on Middle Book Syndrome.

 

Haze starts off a week after the end of Shadows where Gabe and Rafa plans to go to Melbourne to look for Jude. A trip I'm sure everyone who has read the first book is raring, dying to go to.A trip that happens roughly at the 75% mark.

 

I wouldn't have minded this had the earlier 74% given me something that moved the existing story arcs along. Unfortunately, this was spent piling in new details, revisiting characters I didn't care for in the first book and introducing new concepts which I'm sure would make the next books more interesting, but for the here and now… it kinda sucks. Unlike the clean and simple nature of the first book's plot, this one had webs and mobius strips of plots and subplots interrelated that even for someone who has just re-read Shadows got too much to keep track of.

 

It felt like instead of pursuing a single story line (say the search for Jude), a lot of new subplots got in the way. That trip to Melbourne had a hell lot of pit-stops, none of which satisfied my already rabid curiosity. Sure Jason's Iowa discovery was fascinating and I really wanted to know more about the Outcasts and how they operate but I just ended up seeing them as ribbons that weren't pretty enough to make the pink elephants in the room disappear.

 

 

There was also one too many summarizing of the events up to a certain point, as if making sure you're keeping up with everything this book is throwing at you. I think at the 80% mark there was still some summarizing going on. I appreciate it when done once but done repeatedly it bogs down the narrative especially if in full detail. Glossing over them would've sufficed the third time.

 

On the Gabe and Rafa front, their relationship continue to evolve and gain some depth and their chemistry still works for me. I like how they're independently strong and given how violent things could get, there's none of the romantic coddling you'd usually expect from PNRs. When Gabe gets hit, Rafa won't be rushing to her aid, he'll be cheering her on to hit back.

 

On his own, Rafa still had a bit of snark in him but also gained some softness with his intensity. On the other hand, I still find Gabe likable enough though her thoughts towards Rafa are considerably less PG-13 here than in the first book but not to the extent that she loses her self in all the warm fuzzies.

 

Rafa glances at me as we walk. His hair looks fairer out here in the sunlight. Right now I’d like to run my fingers through it, get a good handful, and smack his head into the brick wall we’re passing.

 

Mya finally got introduced here and I'm surprised how easy she was to take as opposed to what I was expecting. As opposed to Jason who just ended up as the plot device to pile in the confusion into the clusterf*ck. He's sort of that guy who invites the weird strangers in to the party who end up drinking all the beer.

 

Overall this book had its moments but seeing as this is the 2nd in a 4-book series, my gripes shouldn't really be gripes at all... for someone who has all 4 books on hand already. But since I'm moving along with the series as it progresses this was a bit of a disappointment and felt a lot like a bridge to something... more. Thankfully, some of the issues in the first book did get resolved here (and when I mean some, I mean one) and some got at the very least half-answers but not without uncovering more questions. The climax initially felt a bit redundant for me until that nasty 96% bit which sets us up for the next book, confuddled, anxious and very impatient.

 

And just because I couldn't resist:

 

"Gaby... I'm not going to talk about the past anymore, okay? Whatever this is, it starts now."