You ever go into a book hoping you’ll love it and you just don’t. Like you don’t even hate it, you just feel kind of meh. Well, that’s exactly what happened with this. I trudged through it over a week and a half which is bizarre for a book so short. In fact, I read three other books whilst reading this. I just never became invested and it never hooked me, which is a shame because there were a number of elements that I loved.
I want to start with the good. By good, I mean great. The world. From the very first page, the world came to life. There was something that was viseral. You got a sense of the way things functioned in the world. You understood that this was the way things were and I never once questioned it. There was a power structure and a hierarchy and while I wish I saw more, I got quickly that Carlos was at the bottom. All these people and creatures live within this world that’s right on the edge of our world. They brush against it and it feels natural as you transition from one place to the other.
Then there’s the fantastic creatures in the world. It is a departure from the traditional creatures that you see in urban fantasy. Yes, there are ghosts which are pretty standard, but the real focus is on the unique ones. For one there is Carlos who is an inbetweener. He’s not quite alive, but not quite dead. Considering that he’s able to function well enough to have sex lets me think that he’s more on the living side than the dead. That said his half dead nature allows him to interact with what is essentially a spiritual world filled with ghosts and other creatures. Carlos is unique and not at the same time as we quickly learn that while he doesn’t come across others like him often, this mystery puts him smack against those like him. The other unique creatures are the ngks. They are vile and best left to experience in the book. They are a nasty bunch, but they have a purpose and serve as a great weapon within the story.
The place where this story really fell apart for me was the characters. I never cared about any of them. Carlos was just so blank. This is in part no doubt due to his nature and not remembering. However, I got the sense that Carlos has been up and about long enough that he could have developed more of a personality than liking magulenos and cursing. It just made him feel very flat and as a result, I didn’t much care about his safety. I cared even less about the side characters. In particular one who we’d spent quite a bit of time with died and I found that I didn’t care in the slightest. Carlos got seriously injured and my heart didn’t race with concern. The characters just didn’t come alive enough for me.
That goes the same for the romance in this story. I shouldn’t have felt something. Yet, I found myself zoning out. They just lacked any real chemistry. I didn’t feel that build of tension that would culminate in a final release of happiness. His love interest instead felt even more flat than Carlos. As a result, I could have done with out the romance entirely. Especially since at the end of the day it didn’t matter anyway. It proved to be more for a plot point than for any character development.
So I was ultimately disappointed in this, but I certainly didn’t hate it. I just wanted and hoped for more. I’m going to pick up the next one mainly because of the world and with the hope that the characters will improve.