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I'll admit now that while I have read Alyson Noels Immortal series, I wasn't really a huge fan of the books. Therefore I wasn't really sure what to expect with this new soul seeker series but I have to say, despite quite a few nit-picks, I did enjoy it and will most certainly be reading the next book.
The story begins with Daire, a young girl who has spent her life travelling around the world from movie set to movie set with her mother, a make-up artist for Hollywood's elite. However on the day of Daire's sixteenth birthday, that life comes to end when Daire starts having freaky visions of ravens and dismembered heads that drive her to a hysterical breakdown.
Not wanting to spend the rest of her life on medication on in the confines of a mental institution, Daire takes the only other option available and moves in with her old, long lost grandmother who claims she can cure Daire of these horrifying visions. However Daire soon learns that these visions are no mental defect, but are part of her inherited powers. As the last descendant of a long line of powerful Shamans, the fate of the world now rests on her shoulders and Daire must learn to harness and use her abilities before evil can break free, and destroy everything good in this world...
One of my favourite things about this book was the mysticism. Stemming from the traditional Native American culture, this story was full animal spirit guides, vision quests and the universal idea that everything has its own mystical life force and energy. It was particularly interesting to read how Daire, a very modern teenage, adapts to her new found heritage by taking on the diet and mind frame required for her new shamanic way of life.
Unfortunately though, I found the romance aspect of this novel a huge letdown. While the love interest Dace was totally gorgeous and swoon worthy, the romance itself didn't really develop so much as it was instant love. Instant kiss. Instant I guess we are now boyfriend and girlfriend... So yeah. I'm going to hope the romance expands a bit more in the next book.
As for the other characters, I really liked Daire. With her less than normal upbringing her reactions to regular things such as high school are quite amusing, and I liked watching the relationship between her and her (slightly quirky) grandmother develop. The bad guy Cade, however, I found mostly arrogant and annoying. Daire's mother Jennika though - I just didn't like at all. She was bossy, childish and quite frankly came across as uncaring, not very good traits for a mother character. Otherwise I really liked the rest of the cast, Paloma and Shay being particular favourites of mine.
My last and final fault was the drama. The plot was interesting and the stakes were high, but I felt like everything was resolved rather quickly and perhaps just a little too easily. For that reason I think that this book would be enjoyed more by a younger YA audience, or anyone who wants less conflict in their books and are guaranteed the reassurance of a happy ending.
So overall I found 'Fated' to be a very enjoyable story but with a few definite flaws. Hopefully the next book will bring with it more and romance and drama but regardless, I shall definitely be reading the sequel 'Echo' which is to be published in September 2012. 3 ½ Stars!
About the book
Fated is the first book in a new series by Alyson Noel. It was published by Macmillan Children's Books on 24th May and the book is 464 pages long.
Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she's never met.
There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she's encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she'll get to know her grandmother--a woman who recognizes Daire's bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers--but it's an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace's brother is an evil shape-shifter who's out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she's meant to be with...or if he's allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy.
What I thought
Having read all of Alyson Noel's 'The Immortals' series, I was looking forward to reading something new and exciting from her. Fated is the first book in Noel's new series, 'The Soul Seekers'.
What makes this book different from any other that I have read in the YA genre is the Native American setting. From the back of the book and knowing more about the plot, I couldn't wait to see what could be done with spirit animals, shamans and visions. The beginning of the book shows protagonist Daire experiencing some problems. Due to seeing things that she shouldn't and doctors now knowing what is wrong, Daire is sent away to live with her Grandmother (who she has never met before) in Enchantment, New Mexico. This is where Daire's new life and adventure begins.
Daire has had an interesting life in her 16 short years but this is what makes her such a good character. Up until the point where she goes to live with her Grandmother, Daire has moved around between film sets with her make-up artist mother but because of this, she has never known a normal, stable family life. Fitting in is hard for Daire in Enchantment but this shows the great qualities that her character has. I really loved exploring Daire's life as she went through so many changes and experiences new and different ways of living.
Daire's Grandmother Paloma is actually the person to explain everything about Daire's gift. Being able to travel between the worlds of the living and the dead is something that runs in their family. The explanations regarding this were by far my favourite aspects of this book. The world that Noel has created is extremely intricate and complex but it is also so magical and exciting at the same time. Fated is so far from what Noel created in 'The Immortals' but in the best possible way,
Of course, in the middle of Daire finding out who she really is and what she can do, there is a love interest. For months, Daire has been dreaming about a particular boy and it turns out that he lives in Enchantment. The boy from her dream has a twin though and one of them is good while the other is evil. The dreams warned Daire against some bad things happening but because of this, she constantly has her guard up and is unsure of who she can trust. Romance isn't the most important thing in this book so it takes a back seat to other things. However, what romance we did get was sweet, well-written and believable. I really liked Dace (the good twin) and I can't wait to see what will happen with him and Daire next. I have a feeling that their romance and being together will have a massive impact on the rest of the series.
Fated is so much better than 'The Immortals' series in so many ways. Noel's writing has improved and thankfully, the protagonist isn't an idiot. Just from this first book I can see that this is going to be a favourite series of mine and I desperately want the second instalment already.