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Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: Ascension

Ascension: A Dark Breed NovelTitle: Ascension
Author: Sable Grace
Page Count: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon
Genre: urban fantasy
Copy for review obtained via NetGalley in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less:  Half vampire, half Lychen, all fighter, Kyra is a reluctant fighter against the Dark Breed in a mid-apocalyptic battle with huge consequences for literally everyone.  And that's before her ex-lover shows up to help/monitor her...

Two important things to note before moving forward: 1) This book will be released on April 26th according to Amazon.com, and 2) I've tried my best to keep this review spoiler free but one or two may have slipped in. 

Ascension may very well be my breakout sensation book of 2011 so far.  I don't typically scour NetGalley or any other resource looking for books that I don't think I'll like and I certainly don't pursue a review of a book if I don't think I'll like it, but Ascension turned my expectations right inside out. I was engrossed in this book from beginning to end- the story grabs your emotions by the nose and refuses to let go.

Ascension tells the story of a world where, in the ultimate battle of good versus evil, good is getting its ass handed to it.  A tired pantheon of tired old gods are trying to hold back all the denizens of hell from wreaking havoc on earth.  Tartarus has been opened and horrifying evil creatures are stalking the night; civilization is collapsing and people don't know what to believe anymore.

Against that backdrop is Kyana, a half vampire, half Lychen tracker who works for Artemis, the goddess of the hunt.  Kyana is viewed by many the way one would view a creepy, grotesque yet incredibly necessary bug; many of the powers that be are horrified by Kyana and the fact that she exists, and they make no secret of that, but at the same time, they need her to do things for them, usually at great personal risk to herself.

Such is the case when she's called to find a stolen artifact that supposedly couldn't be stolen; she's supposed to figure out how the impossible happened, retrieve the artifact and minimize the amount of damage that can be done, but without doing anything sketchy herself.  To keep her on the straight and narrow, Ryker, a demigod son of Ares and Kyana's former lover, is sent along to keep tabs.  This goes over with Kyana about as well as one would expect.

Kyana and Ryker's relationship brings serious hurt to both of them, and the potential for serious joy and peace at the same time.  It's incredibly obvious that both still have strong feelings for each other, and that the separation hasn't worked out for either of them; Kyana hides an extremely vulnerable core under a very, VERY prickly exterior, and Ryker got under her skin and she's never been able to get him out.  Likewise, Ryker isn't happy without Kyana, but can't seem to get over the fact that Kyana tends to act according to her vampire instincts way more than her Lychen ones.  He has to own up to the fact that he has had an attitude of "I'd love you more if you were different" and slowly comes to realize how badly he (admittedly accidentally) hurt Kyana with that attitude.  The fact that Ryker walked out on her in the past was a huge blow to her self-esteem and she has a hard, hard time even accepting that moving on from that blow might be possible.  I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about these two in future books.

Likewise, I loved the twist on Greek mythology that was so central to this book.  Apparently, the names of the Greek gods and goddesses with which we're so familiar aren't actually names, but titles- titles that must be passed on from one person to another.  The line of succession must be maintained, or Very Bad Things will happen.  When a serial killer is targeting those Chosen to fill these offices, that is a problem.  A very serious problem.

I loved the roles that Geoff and Haven, Kyana's only two real friends, played in this story as well.  It's a mark of a great story that I was honestly invested in what happened to the characters in this book and wanted things to turn out  well for them.  The story involving Haven especially will be very, very interesting to follow in future books.  And Geoff? Well, Mr. Geoff has some pretty big secrets, and let's just leave it at that.

This book reminded me of Pandora's box in a lot of ways.  There were plenty of sad, dark elements in the story- Greed, Rage, War, Heartbreak, the list goes on and on.  But at the same time, dogged old Hope is kicking around in the box too, steadfastly refusing to run for its life.  Ascension ends with important loose ends untied, which means the second book has big shoes to fill and big answers to deliver.  I for one cannot wait!

Overall Grade: A+
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