REVIEW: Darker After Midnight by Lara AdrianMonday, February 13, 2012 1:00
I wanted this book because it’s Sterling Chase’s book, but while the first part keeps the reader on the edge of her seat, the second half descends into a big wtfkery, as Adrian sets the scene for what will probably be a new series. There will be spoilers in this review, however I’ll mark them for you, but the first part won’t have spoilers as such. However, we know certain things, and I don’t really consider them spoilers, such as this is a romance, so it has a HEA.
Sterling Chase is the hyper-controlled Breed male who joined the Order after giving up the Agency. Some of the best parts of this book are when Chase returns to his old Darkhaven and muses about his previous life, what he wanted and how he’d been mistaken. We actually get insights into his character and what makes him tick. But other parts of Chase’s character aren’t carried through properly. We know at the end of the last book that he has succumbed to bloodlust and so he’s doomed. He has to go cold turkey, or maybe he doesn’t, maybe he can just fight it. Bloodlust is described as an addiction, but Chase doesn’t behave like an addict. For one thing, he falls in love and puts that person above his addiction. Addicts don’t do that. It weakened that part of Chase’s character. And (spoiler) the resolution. What resolution? We just see lurve beating all, we don’t see him kicking his habit. It’s an important part of Chase’s character, until it stops being a part of his character. Until it’s not needed anymore to move the story forward. I want more about Chase and less about the badass villain.
Dragos has been the villain through the whole series. He has never been more than two-dimensional, and here he doesn’t disappoint in that respect. He’s a megalomaniac. While other megalomaniacs had quirks (Blofelt had a cat, Goldfinger had a third nipple), Dragos doesn’t even have that. He just wants to rule the world and is prepared to create chaos while he does so. Like a spoiled child wanting a toy, he doesn’t really know why he wants it or what he’ll do with it once he gets it.
As usual, we get destruction and mayhem, but some of the story threads lead nowhere and others come out of the blue. (spoiler alert). Atlantis? Really? And when Dragos dies, it’s over so fast and so easily, that you wonder why they bothered waiting so long. Dragos’s master plan is so ridiculously simple, I don’t know why he didn’t do it earlier, before the Order had a chance to fight him.
The heroine of this book is Tavia, who is more than she thinks she is at the start. And here’s another break with the rest of the rules of the series. I feel kind of cheated when I discovered what Tavia is, because, although the explanation is plausible, it negates some of the other earlier books. Tavia starts the book as an interesting character in an interesting job, but that dissipates as, before our eyes, she turns into a Mary Sue. Everybody loves her, except the villain, who wants her, and she makes everything all right. She cures addiction, she fights, she Saves The Day, and we are meant to believe that where a group of experienced warriors fail, a scheme that the aforesaid Blofelt could have spotted with one eye closed would succeed? At the end, she does something so stupid that I lost respect or interest for her.
Originality, this book has none. I don’t mind that so much as some readers. For instance, this series is about a bunch of otherworldly, vampiric badass warriors who all live together in a great big house and find their mates. Yep, definitely been there before, again and again for that matter, but the women are more proactive and interesting, and the writing is less simplistic than others in similar vein. What’s more, the characters, especially in the first three books, are far more involving, less ciphers, with motivations that make sense and story arcs that go somewhere. For me, the series started to fall apart when she turned Andreas Reichen into a totally different character for Ashes of Midnight, but I kept reading, hoping the series would turn. At some points, it did, but this last book is one of the weakest in the series, which is a real shame, as I loved Chase in the earlier books and I wanted to read about him, not some weird outer-space-meets-mythology mashup.
This story starts really well and I couldn’t stop reading, but at a certain point, it changed, and I just wanted to get to the end. Then I wish I hadn’t. Here followeth spoilers, but I’ll try not to make it too bad.
At one point toward the end, I groaned aloud. My daughter, who was in the same room, asked me what was wrong, and I said one word. “Atlantis.” She hasn’t read this series, didn’t know what I was reading, but she groaned, too. Oh dear. It’s like having a joker in the pack or playing a black two and then saying, “Oh, by the way, black twos are wild.” It came out of nowhere and it didn’t work. For that matter, the whole interpretation of dreams subplot didn’t work for me. I was tempted to skip, but I read, hoping it would come together at the end, but it didn’t.
The end of the book is one big Harlequin Presents ending. Couples cuddling and babies. Omg the babies! Sweet as sugar.
And the speech to the world? Absolutely unbelievable. I mean I didn’t believe it. It’s like a Godzilla film, with people rushing around screaming and school buses falling off high bridges, and the everything is all right, and “We’ll build a new world together.” Nu-uh. Not for this romance reader.
The book is a bit like a torn sock. All nicely knitted and working toward something interesting, and then lots of threads and tangles and an ending that doesn’t make sense.
Adrian has obviously set up a new series here, one that reads far more like urban fantasy, but I’m a romance reader. I want characters, their dilemmas and how they overcome them, drawing on resources inside themselves. I don’t want plot-heavy stories with characters who do as they are told. So this is where we part company, but the first three books of this series remain firmly on my keeper shelf.
The climactic novel in Lara Adrian’s New York Times bestselling Midnight Breed series–and her hardcover debut–Darker After Midnight invites readers to enter a thrillingly sensual world where danger meets desire.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: