Saturday, November 2, 2019

Book Review: Relentless by Karen Lynch

Published: December 26, 2013
Publisher: self-published
Read from March 10 to April 3, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sara Grey’s world shattered ten years ago when her father was brutally murdered. Now at seventeen, she is still haunted by memories of that day and driven by the need to understand why it happened. She lives a life full of secrets and her family and friends have no idea of the supernatural world she is immersed in or of Sara’s own very powerful gift.
In her quest for answers about her father’s death, Sara takes risks that expose her and her friends to danger and puts herself into the sights of a sadistic vampire. On the same fateful night she meets Nikolas, a warrior who turns Sara’s world upside down and is determined to protect her even if it’s the last thing she wants.
Sara’s life starts to spin out of control as she is hunted by an obsessed vampire, learns that her friends have secrets of their own and reels from the truth about her own ancestry. Sara has always been fiercely independent but in order to survive now she must open herself to others, to reveal her deepest secrets. And she must learn to trust the one person capable of breaking down the walls around her.


I read this book for free as part of the Gods and Mortals anthology, and I disliked it as much as I disliked the other books I've reviewed from that same anthology.

The writing in Relentless feels like it's attempting to be formal in a way that's out of place. A lot of phrases were written out that would have sounded more natural as a contraction. I felt like the book was trying too hard, but it was unnatural and took me out of the story.

The main character, Sara, only has friends who are boys because she tells us that girls don't like her. She then proceeds to insult all girls as a monolithic group, so you understand right away why most girls aren't lining up to befriend her. Comments like that from a character always put me off a story. The "I'm not like most girls" bit is always annoying, but outright insulting all other girls makes it even worse. It's always strange to see it done in a book whose target audience is teenage girls. Are the girls who read this book all supposed to be exceptions to Sara's judgmental comments? Or are they supposed to read about someone who mocks them?

Mohiri are the supernatural race that this book centers around. They apparently received their powers from Archangel Michael, and these powers were given to them specifically to hunt demons. This backstory immediately made me think of the Shadowhunter Chronicles, where Shadowhunters were given powers from the another angel, Ithuriel, to fight demons.

However, the Mohiri are meant to be half demon and half human; Shadowhunters, on the other hand, are half angel and half human. I'm not including this in the review to accuse the author of plagiarism; I'm bringing it up because I couldn't help but compare the two series as I was reading this one.

There were a number of tropes employed in the book that made me uncomfortable as well. I won't bother going into detail about them but will briefly list some of them to help others be aware of them before they read (while also acknowledging that I may have missed some):
  • Sara and Roland are chased by men who are all described as German or Middle Eastern. (How interesting that they can identify some of them by a specific country but no country is ever named in regards to the "Middle Eastern" men.) At one point, one of the men, who is described as Middle Eastern, says this: "In my country, a female is beaten for interfering in the business of men."
  • Men constantly belittle Sara because she's a girl. I don't think there was one male character in this book who didn't do it repeatedly.
  • Nikolas barges into Sara's room when she's only wearing a towel and doesn't care. He knows she has just gotten out of the shower and could easily be changing, but he doesn't knock or care at all about respecting her privacy.
  • There's a supernatural creature called a Hale witch, who is from Africa (no specific place in Africa is given) and only uses what's described as dark magic. There's a lot of emphasis placed on the Hale witch's black skin.
  • Almost every Mohiri and werewolf in the story is male; there are no women with a significant role anywhere in this book except Sara.
To be quite frank, I'm rather disgusted by this book. While I disliked many of the books in the Gods and Mortals anthology, this one had a number of particularly terrible tropes in it that I cannot believe someone thought were okay. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

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