Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Status: Third in the Trylle Trilogy, following Switched and Torn.
Source: Received from the publisher for review.
Genre: Teen Paranormal
Other Info: Hocking is also the author of the My Blood Approves series, the Hollows series, the Witches of Honalee, Virtue, and the upcoming Watersong series.
Description and link from Goodreads):
Now that I’m finished with the series, it’s impossible for me to review Ascend without keeping the previous two books in mind. Of course, this is how a series works, right? Well, yes and no. In a good series, each volume stands up on its own and builds on the larger story arc. Unfortunately, that’s not how many series books are written these days. More often than not, series books function as excuses for authors to write cliffhangers. Writing an ending that manages to complete the conflict in Book A while still compelling the readers to read Book B (and maintaining their interest in the Main Conflict [which arches from books A to D, or whatever]) takes serious talent.
I’m not saying that I’ve never read a successful cliffhanger, or that I haven’t enjoyed one, either. It totally have. What I’m trying to say, in my long-winded fashion, is that this isn’t just going to be a review of Ascend, but of the Trylle Trilogy as a series.
I said in my review of Torn that I felt that the first two books could have been condensed into one volume. What I realized in Ascend was that the love triangle was what made a total of three books necessary. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. I suspect that Hocking changed ‘ships midstream. I was pretty sure I knew who Wendy was going to end up with by the time I was halfway through Torn. What I didn’t know was how Amanda Hocking was going to be able to make it work when she’d entrenched Wendy pretty firmly in relationship with the other guy. Hence the three books.
Which brings me to this point: A love triangle will never be enough to make up for plot filler. It just won’t. Authors that ignore this fact give love triangles their bad rep. Well, among other things. Even worse, however, is that I’m convinced that Hocking herself knew who she wanted as Wendy’s HEA and didn’t know how to get rid of the spare. Basically, she wrote herself into a love triangle corner. (Note: As an argument against this theory, however, I’ve noticed that Hocking’s other books also feature love triangles. So, she might just like them).
Funnily enough, the greatest outcome of reading the Trylle books was how deeply it made me think about self-published novels versus, er, not. Hocking has a lot of potential, but here’s the thing: The Trylle Trilogy read as three good self-published novels. But. I expected more once it got in the hands of a publishing house and, I assume, an editor. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t an editor like a personal trainer? It whips the soft, doughy mass of the first draft into the sculpted magnificence that is eventually published. (Not always, sadly, but that’s another post.) That’s the issue with a lot of self-pubs–and the benefit of getting published by someone else. The Trylle Trilogy could have greatly benefited from that kind of special attention, and because I read the St. Martin’s Griffin print version, I feel justified in holding up the lack against the final product.
I can’t deny that, whatever problems I had with Amanda Hocking’s bewildering plotting, her writing is readable. I can see why she’s gained such a wide audience. I read the books and enjoyed them, but in a mild way. I won’t be rereading them. This isn’t a series I’d recommend to anyone, and I certainly wouldn’t have bought the paperback versions for myself. I’m happy to report that the ebook versions are still $0.99, though, and you might be able to get them through the library. I think it will be interesting to see how Watersong turns out, and to see how shifting away from self-publishing will affect her writing.
|3 Matryoshkas: I would have coffee with this book.|
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