This is one of the those books where I wanted to give it a higher rating, but in all honesty just couldn’t. Before I even sat down to write this review I antagonized about giving it a higher rating. Then it hit me if I have to think this hard to find enough qualities to bump up the rating, that's my first sign. Even if this one of my top debuts for 2012.
The reason for my feelings is for the world building of Royal Street. Wizards exist and they police the borders of the Beyond—where wizards, elves, vampires, werewolves, famous ghosts (or undead), and even gods reside and sometimes cross over onto the human plain. It was shear brilliance that Johnson had the book take place during the events of Hurricane Katrina. It was haunting and truly heart breaking at times, and painted the most realistic picture for a fantasy novel to take place. In that alone I will always love this book.
From there everything else just goes stale. Characters who were truly fascinating—a swashbuckling-sexy-violent pirate—didn't get enough page or development time. The lead DJ is so immature throughout the book and just didn't have a strong enough voice. It was nice to have a lead female who wasn't tough as nails and taking on the world with gun and metal, but she just didn't have enough presence. The love triangle (though pretty sure it was a square) is nothing special. Alex is the enforcer that comes to town to help her out and she immediately dislikes him. Though she will admit he's hot, but she has eyes for his cousin Jake the ex-marine. It seems like every male became infatuated or lusty after DJ, who is unaware of her sexual appeal. (That got old.)
Everything else for the book was stale as well. Events that could have turned into more exciting things (like a Truth or Dare game of cards) to the over all murder mystery. The plot was glaringly obvious from DJ's real dad, to the grand scheme of the creatures trying to break out of the Beyond. Honestly I felt bored. Every exiting turn soon became anticlimactic, even the bad guy's downfall was kind of like “That's it? Well that sucked!” (This book knocked me out of my reading high!! Now I'm stuck in a funk.)
The Hurricane Katrina setting was beyond brilliant not only giving a certain feel of reality to the tale, but showing readers a haunting glimpse into one of America's biggest natural disasters that it's seen in a long time. Besides that this book was boring and average at best. All the big plot twists might as well have had neon lights pointing them out. One redeeming fact was the humor. Laughs all around, and when I can get into the author's sense of humor that helps to keep me interested. Despite the overall underwhelming impression for the characters, plot, and emotion I'll be there for the next book. The debut had a lot of promise, I just hope the author pulls through and delivers. Sexual Content:
Lot's of pirate innuendos and hints of sexual favors. Kissing and a vague makeout session. 2/5- Average/disappointing, library check-out Originally reviewed at Book Whispers.