Thursday, July 11, 2013

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan


Immortal Beloved
By Cate Tiernan
Read: June 30 – July 1
Published: September 7, 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Lent by Heather @ The Flyleaf Review (THANK YOU!)
Category: Paranormal Romance

Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.

Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.

NOTE: This series is fully published and I read it in a week! These books read really well in succession. Although this review is spoiler free and only for the first book, I did write it after I finished the series, so it has a 'series review' feel to it in some of my comments.


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Nastasya* Crowe is old. She is 459 to be exact, although she still looks like she’s 17 and can usually be found acting like it too. She has been floating through life from one party to another for hundreds of years, until the night her best friend does something that scares her. Completely freaked out, Nastasya runs away. Because Nas can’t come up with a better option, she escapes to River's Edge, a rehab-like facility for immortals. Her goal is to stay a few days until she figures out what to do next, but something about River and her home forces Nas to confront her painful past. Although that scares Nastasya more than anything else, she feels compelled to stay.

I mentioned in a review I wrote earlier this week that a strong protagonist voice always makes a book stand out to me. After being inside of Nastasya's head for three books in a row, she is definitely on my Top Favorite Female Voices list (or she would be if I had one). I absolutely loved listening to her think and speak and do. The thing is, Nastasya is not very likable at first. She is selfish, self-indulgent, self-centered and shallow, but I was still easily able to emotionally connect with her from the beginning. Nastasya is also hilarious, and says whatever she thinks, especially when it’s something she should probably keep her mouth shut about. But Nastasya’s quick wit also hides some deep hurts. This poor girl's struggles with guilt and pain hurt my heart! Nastasya’s layers run deep and Tiernan expertly peals them back throughout this book.

A lot of paranormal books feature characters that are immortal; in fact, it is almost a requirement for a PNR. But very few handle it like Immortal Beloved does.  Instead of featuring a character that becomes immortal, or discovers that she is one, Nastasya has already lived a very long life when we meet her. What we get to see from her voice is the burden of immortality. What it’s like to live so long unchanging and face hundreds of years of loss, struggles and life along the way. All of that has greatly affected Nastasya. It also has a lot to do with how she's lived her life in recent centuries. River’s rehab program is different from any one I’ve ever seen, because it is for people who have endless years behind and before them. But I grew to believe in its effectiveness (and begrudgingly, so did Nastasya). There are a few immortals in other books that I'd like to send there too. 

Because Nastasya has lived for so long, to get to know her, we need to get to know her past. I despise don't usually care for extended flashback scenes, but I was impressed with how well the ones in Nastasya’s narrative served to emotionally tie me to her. They are well placed and give the reader enough information to get to know her and her history, without it overwhelming the present action. I don't think I could have understood her as well as I did, without those sections. 

The other element about Immortal Beloved that stands out to me is the fact that it’s primary focus is on the inner struggle and character development of Nastasya. Although there are some bigger paranormal story elements at work, this is primarily a book about Nastasya’s self-discovery and personal growth. Despite the fact that she and the other characters are immortal and view life very differently than you or I would, this story felt like contemporary fiction to me in places. And though Nastasya looks like a teenager and has been living like a spoiled youth for centuries, she has been all grown up forever, and has experienced hundreds of years of grown up things. Because of that, I think this story has great crossover between YA and Adult audiences.

Although I’ve primarily talked about Nastasya in this review, there are many other characters introduced, which I also grew to love (or loathe) as I read through this series. One of them is the guy that becomes Nastasya’s love interest. Reyn is the first person that Nastasya meets at River's Edge, which is unfortunate, because he’s not very welcoming at all. In fact, he doesn’t seem to want her there. But Nastasya thinks there’s something familiar about him, though she can’t place him. Eventually she discovers why that is, and all I can say is WHOA. Reyn is very hard to read at first. He’s pretty much the definition of taciturn, especially when he’s around Nastasya. But there is a reason for everything, and like Nas, his layers run very deep. I was a bit unsure of him and them after reading this book, but I love how their relationship builds slowly throughout the series.

The Immortal Beloved series is written as one continuing story line split over three books, and I’m very glad that it is now fully published so I could read it back to back. The end of Immortal Beloved isn’t really a huge climactic moment, but it felt like the close of the first chapter in Nastasya’s growth. Having been able to read the series as I did, I like the way that the story unfolded throughout the three books.

I fell in love with Nastasya, Reyn, River and the entire Immortal Beloved series. Have you read these books yet? 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Mild – no great immediate danger, but clear that the overarching story is incomplete. 

*I think the biggest struggle I had with this series is Nastasya's name (Nastasya, Nasty, Nas). Not only is it tricky to spell, but it just doesn't roll off the tongue easily. Thankfully, Nasty changes her name frequently, because I don't think I could call her that indefinitely. 

**Are you wondering what type of immortal Nastasya is? For some reason I went into this series thinking that she was going to be a vampire. Nope. If I were going to equate her to something, it would be a witch. But these characters are wonderfully unique. 


14 comments:

  1. I'm glad that the MC holds more in herself than just the supernatural-strong-'n-pretty part and has an emotional side as well. You know.. my hairdresser is a family friend of ours who loves to read (maybe even more than I do) and she told me to read this baby asap since it's one of her favorite books. I love how it has a new 'spin' on the immortal part of it and it'd be fun to read it the other way around not some teenager's POV who's just coping with the knowledge of being immortal. A slow-build romance is exactly how I like them and I'm glad this is the case here. Ugh, you just pumped this up on my tbr girl!!! Love your thorough review and beautiful thoughts :-)

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  2. First off, amen for no love triangle. Second, it's impressive that the writer was able to add the weight of years to the main character's voice -- that's got to take a deft touch to be sure. I haven't read this series but it sounds like I need to check it out!

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  3. I read the first book a couple years ago and didn't like it all that much and for some reason I really don't remember why. lol Maybe like you said, she is not likable at first and perhaps I was never able to move on from that. I'm glad you enjoyed the series though and isn't it nice to read books in a series back to back? :)

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  4. I had trouble with her name too Lauren! I kept calling her Natasha in my head just to make it easier on myself:) I'm so glad you loved this series! I've only read book one (a while ago) and enjoyed it, and like you, I loved that it focused mainly on Nastasya and who she was rather than a mystery or romance. I definitely need to get caught up and see how everything ends! Really lovely review:):)

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  5. Gosh, I am so happy that you have fallen for this series like I did! You and I have discussed the "burden of immortality" thing at length, and I agree that you don't often see this, especially in YA with a heavy romance storyline. And I don't know why not, because it opens up such awesome discussion in my opinion. It's a shame that more readers (especially YA readers) don't know about this series-- it's a missed opportunity for great discussion.

    It's definitely not a vampire/ immortality thing, and I like your thoughts on witch craft (this makes a lot of sense because Tiernan wrote an entire series of books about witches too) but you know what I kind of compare this series to in my mind? That 80's movie Highlander. Have you ever seen that? It stars Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. The similarities are MANY. Check it out some time if you haven't already.

    Wonderful review! I can't wait to read your take on Darkness Falls next!

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  6. Okay, confession time. I honestly just looked at the title of this and assumed it was going to be another classic vampire/faerie novel that I would hate. I can't remember the last time I've read a book with vamps in it, actually, since I am so fed up with them so I was REALLY surprised to see that you enjoyed this so much, but now I am REALLY glad you did so that I can pick it up too. It sounds very unique, different, and honestly up my alley. I am all for strong character development, so I'm definitely looking forward to sinking my teeth into this. (No pun intended!) Lovely review, Lauren! :)

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  7. Hmm, I imagine immortality would be a great burden in so many ways. I think it's very interesting that the author approaches it like that.
    The name Nastasya is Slavic so it's fairly common here and I'm quite used to it, but it's definitely a mouthfull. Good thing she kept changing it.

    I'm with Keertana, this does sound different and unique and I'm curious enough to give it a try.

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  8. Wow -- these books do sound interesting.
    I am taking all my Jessica Darling books to the beach, plus the last two Lumatere books, and hoping to read them all!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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  9. I've been wanting to read this series for awhile now. I've just bumped it up the list, thanks to you! Great review. :D

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  10. Between you and Heather, I'm discovering many YA books I never head of! I'm so glad I started to look into book blogs. My reading horizons have expanded, perhaps even doubled this summer! :)

    Awesome review, by the way! This series sounds pretty great, and I'm eager to get to it soon.

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  11. Just added it to my TBR list after reading that all the books in the series are published! And it definitely sounds like a worthy! Thanks for sharing this book!

    - Gayatri @ Notorious Writer.

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  12. I thought this was a new series for me but then I remember seeing it with a different cover and really wanting to read it. Ah, I'm so glad that you love this series, Lauren! Now I can finally buy them and start reading'em sometime soon. About the MC, I actually love her name, when you pronounce it, it sounds so sultry. Nastasya. Love it! And she sounds awesome, even though she has a lot of guilt over the years, I think her strong character makes her very special and memorable. Great review, Lauren!

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  13. When I read the synopsis, I wondered if I would actually grow to like her and I'm so glad that you grew to love her! The fact that the characters brought on strong feelings, whether it be positive or bad, is a huge plus for me. I'm also happy to know that they are all published! I'll have to pick these up now :)

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  14. This is one of those series I've been meaning to pick up for a while. The way those who've read it talk about it is just so that I think I'd love it. Especially the unique take on immortality and the fact that you pointed out that it's a good YA/Adult crossover. I need my PRN these days to be more mature like that. Going to devour this at some point.

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