“ Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Brandon Alston / Co-Author: Quinteria Ramey / Kindle Edition „
Grey Eyes was recommended to me by my sixteen year old daughter, who hadn't read the novel at the time but her friend had enjoyed it and likened it to the Twilight story (which I loved in book form, if not the big screen versions) - it was a free Kindle download at the time so I clicked 'buy now', promptly forgot about it and noticed it again in the cloud just last week. It's obviously written with the Twilight fan base in mind and although it has a strong storyline of its own I can see distinct similarities between the two, and not simply because vampires feature pretty heavily in the story and the fact that the main protagonist is a moody (although no WAY moody in the realms of Bella!) teenager who seems to thrive at being confronted by 'weird things'.
This moody girl has a right to be moody though; she's not suffering from teenage angst a'la Bella Swan, but is going from a girl whose only worry is whether her mum is going to make them move house again to discovering she's a witch. More than a witch, a conjurer. Anastasia Adams (Ana) begins Grey Eyes on the phone to her friend, the only friend she's ever really had - this opening dialogue tells us a little about the girl and draws the reader into the story with a short flurry of fright as Ana realises her mum might be listening to her speaking on the phone, the speed with which she puts the phone back and panic at the thought of her mum catching her makes you worry about the direction in which the story is going. After learning they move around an awful lot (Ana has never put in a full year at one school) I started imagining an abusive father trying to catch up with them, something distasteful, and decided after just a few pages that I wasn't going to enjoy the book.
What I didn't expect, after a very short period of getting to know Ana and her mother, was a vampire to break into their house, mortally wound Ana's mum and be mysteriously ripped away just at the second as he's reaching for Ana as she cowers under the bed. Jeeeeez, it came on like a freight train - I actually thought the attack was a dream sequence and that Ana was going to wake up bathed in sweat and claiming she'd had a revelation in her sleep! Not so. In the dead of night she follows her overprotective-even-in-death mother's instructions and runs to a point in the forest she knows well - and here she's catapulted into a side of her life which she didn't even know existed. Along with the knowledge that she is now a witch - and not just any old witch, Ana is the heir to one of the largest witching families in the world and the time has come (with the death of her mother) to take her rightful place alongside her aging grandmother. Ana's mum has tried to prevent this, the reasoning behind this only becoming apparent much later on in the story and even then it's hard to understand why she took Anastasia out of the fold of a very protective family to face the dangers of being a high ranking witch outside of the coven. They've been running not only from Ana's grandmother and the responsibilities of being an heir but also from a horde of rogue vampires who are disobeying the truce between themselves and the witches.
It's one of those novels where you really have to suspend reality and immerse yourself into the feelings and life of the characters. It's not a romance novel but Ana is torn between two boys (a warlock and a vampire, obviously) with this storyline simmering throughout the entire book, again it's done in an Edward/Bella/Jacob way and doesn't get in the way of other (more important than teenage love affairs) events. I don't *do* romance in books, but I thought it was very well done in Grey Eyes and didn't become gooey or 'eugh' at all - although the author did have a slight wobble at a point towards the end of the story, coming dangerously close to the 'eugh' factor when she had the warlock (Darren) sweeping Ana up onto a horse in an act of 'it just doesn't happen' chivalry.
Without exception the characters are all likeable with Ana being one of my favourites along with her cousin, London, and newfound best friend, Taylor. There's a good age range as far as characters go which is great for us older readers as it makes the story a little more relevant, rather than constant teenage inspired talk. Ana's grandmother is a nice character; not as rounded as I imagined she would be and certainly not a huge part of the story, but is useful as a kind of bridging character to allow the reader a glimpse into the new world of Ana. As the full extent of Ana's powers really start to develop her grandmother suspects but keeps it to herself; being a conjurer is a death sentence in the witching community, it's unnatural magic and that cannot be allowed as it turns the whole witches code on its head - a witch should only perform magic which does not go against the laws of nature and when a conjurer is revealed they will be tried and killed, as Ana's ancestor and fellow conjurer Rasputin found out.
I was impressed with the flow of the story, finding it reasonably fast paced but with just the right amount of background filler to keep the novel grounded. It's an incredibly simple story to follow and such an easy read that I finished it within a couple of days, that's taking into account the fact that nighttime toddler duties prevents me from reading as much as I'd like and these days an average novel can take me two weeks to get through. I thought Grey Eyes was a real page turner, the short snappy chapters being refreshing compared to the heavy 30 page chapter non-fiction book I was reading in tandem with this one - I've noticed chapters in YA novels are usually short and for me, at this moment, it works so I'm glad to see Grey Eyes following this formula. I also found this great with regards to the action in Grey Eyes; there are a lot of characters to keep track of and plenty of different locations where the action takes place, so having short chapters allowed the story to develop by leading the reader quickly from one situation to another.
When I say there are a lot of characters I mean the cast as a whole is quite large, with there being a dozen or so central characters. You're introduced to most of them at the beginning of the story with a couple of others thrown into the mix at various points throughout the book, this gives a brief feeling of panic when you lose track of which witch (ha!) Ana is referring to but after a few chapters you'll have it sussed and know your Genevieve from your Aspen - the slightly odd names make it easier in a way than when you read a book with a large range of characters who all have normal everyday names such as Sarah or James!
I thought the author conveyed the emotions of, in particular, Ana brilliantly. The shock was raw when she was told about being such an important figure within a highly unusual family who she hadn't even known existed, and when she discovered secrets about the past of her vampire lover I could literally feel how it affected her which I give massive kudos to the author for. It's a tad melodramatic in places, but at these points I'd remind myself that I'm a good bit older than the target audience for Grey Eyes and realised that said target audience probably wouldn't find a door slamming run to the bedroom melodramatic in the slightest! It's all about perspective...!
The vampire aspect is more of an undertone than anything in this book; there are two vampires who are given reasonably large parts in the story (Tristan and Aiden) and it's through Tristan that we learn the secrets of Ana's past, I wasn't overly enamoured with either of the vampires to be honest as both seem lazily developed with Tristan being very similar to Edward Cullan in that he always seems to be *there* to save Ana and Aiden being the type of character who really only comes to the fore to make it easier for the author to make a point.
I'd recommend Grey Eyes to anyone really from fifteen(ish) years and upwards, it's obvious as you're reading that this has been written for kids in their late teens but the story is so good that I really don't see why older fans of the Twilight series shouldn't enjoy it - I certainly did and intend to download the others in the trilogy at some point to find out what life has in store for Ana and her family next. Having just checked, Grey Eyes is still free for Kindle download so give it a try, you might be surprised!