Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: The Rising Moon by Nilsa Rodriguez

  Angelia, or Lia, is a struggling teenager trying to get on with life. Alone and lonely, she’s an orphan and her foster mother is recently deceased. Her foster father has taken to drink to try and deal with it, life isn’t easy.

At school she is largely alone, until finally, in her senior year, through sheer persistence, Ryan manages to crack her isolation. Suddenly with a new circle of friends and a boy who likes her, things are looking up. Perhaps a little too up when Lyle, her friend and neighbour Emi’s brother, also expresses an interest.

But then she learns far more about her past than she imagined – including the reality of her parents and foster mother. She learns even more about herself, that her vivid dreams are just a herald of the werewolf within her. A werewolf who has lived before – and has an immortal lover that is now seeking her out. And a werewolf that has a long running feud with the family closest to her – who are now determined to get their revenge.

This book did have a decent concept and a very nice idea. The immortal, reincarnated werewolf trying to assimilate into mundane life and not knowing what she was. The haunted, grieving vampire looking for his lost love and rebuild their relationship. The ancient feuding family looking for revenge for long past grievances and even the shapeshifters having all this dumped on them but with more ties than they imagined. It could have been developed and well done.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it was. Largely because none of these points really were developed, they were just accepted facts. There’s even one bemusing scene where Lia goes to speak to Ani for the first time and Ani basically says “you’re a reincarnated werewolf, they want to kill you and a vampire loves you. Want a cup of tea?” It’s just dumped with no development – and Lia’s drama is not DOUBTING Ani but being unable to deal with how much this changes her life. Really? If a complete stranger told me I was a werewolf, I’d advise them to water down their booze more. Events happen, people form connections, people do things but their reasons are very shaky.

The writing was also a barrier. I’m not normally one to care too much about grammar or spelling – so long as it’s readable and flows, it’s not something I criticise a book for. But, in this case, it went just a bit too far. I think commas were inserted at random and the sentence structure was rather random, often with lots of short, staccato sentences that were jarring. I think the balance of writing was off as well – words were wasted on the exact details of getting dressed or making breakfast, and not enough spent on describing characters and developing relationships. There was also a problem with repeated wrong use of words – some of them were blatant spellcheck errors (“Now” instead of “know”) but some were just wrong words – obvious malapropisms.

I don’t like the relationships in this book or the character interactions in general. Lia starts the book as an ostracised lonely girl – but we have no idea why. We’re told she’s bullied and picked on, but again, no reason why or who (nor does it ever actually happen). She keeps her head down and drives off anyone around her (again, no idea why) and then we’re supposed to feel for her because she’s lonely? It’s not even relevant to the plot – it just feels shoe-horned in to give Lia some character without any depth.

Then along comes Ryan and decides he wants to be her friend. And that he loves her (yes, it’s another infatuation based on a few second contact). She tries to rebuff him, drive him off and he keeps pushing (looking a little creepy, but mainly her looking more anti-social than lonely). Eventually she accepts his friendship and gets a whole group of his family and friends as her close friends as well - they go on to be willing to fight for her, risk their lives for her and provide room and board for her based on very little friendship. Her relationship with Ryan is fraught – she constantly threatens him with no longer being his friend (sometimes what she wants is reasonable, sometimes not. But the overused threat is gross manipulation) and he remains a dedicated tool throughout. There’s also a moment where she decides they simply cannot be friends and he must stay away because… because… nope, no real clue.

Then there’s Kima. Kima hates Lia because she loves Ryan. But then Lia talks to her and now they’re bestest friends. No, really. What was the point of this convoluted lump of aborted conflict?

She meets Lyle, the werewolf and he falls madly in love with her instantly. To the point of being willing to betray his siblings and even hurt them for her. I don’t think he even knows her surname or has spent as much as an hour in her company.

And there’s Adam, who loves her because she’s a reincarnation of the woman he loves. And she loves him because…. Yes, it’s another “I hardly know you but I will DIE WITHOUT YOU!” moment.

It doesn’t help that the dialogue is often stilted, melodramatic and, frankly, unbelievable. I just can’t picture real people, actual people, especially teenagers, speaking like this.

I have a problem with many of the character’s motivations. Emi changing over night to loathing Lia was excessive, smacked more of possession than inheriting her family powers and was not strongly explained, especially since Emi and her grandmother were both presented as reasonable people before. I don’t understand everyone falling in love with Lia and the sudden friendships. I don’t understand any of the love interests. I’m just constantly left wondering why the characters are doing what they’re doing.

As you can probably see, I didn’t like Lia as a character. She has a very busy backstory – orphaned, raised by foster parents, foster mother died (and was really her aunt, a secret that as kept from her because… I have absolutely no idea, it just was) and her foster father’s an alcoholic; she’s ostracised and picked on at school. And all of this is just a biography – none of it is really reflected in the character herself, it’s just a tragic backstory tagged onto the character that has no actual relevance to who she is. She is prone to pouting, self-recriminating angst (you know the kind “oh pity me I have done such a terrible thing to someone” while everyone assures you it’s not your fault) and throwing manipulative tantrums to get her own way.

There were a large number of POC in this book, including the protagonist, most of them Native American. I wish they had been developed more as characters, though, rather than sources of magic, advice, support and shapeshifting army.

In general, this book had an interesting concept. An immortal, reincarnated werewolf, shapeshifters, a vampire looking to reconnect with his past love and an ancient feud. It could have been done very well – but the lack of character development, world exploration and establishing the characters motives made the story fall very flat. The writing was too convoluted to make it flow well and the book is sorely in need of an editor.

Title: The Rising Moon
Author: Nilsa Rodriguez
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young-Adult
Publisher: Black Dove Publishing
Pages: 318

About the Author:
Nilsa Rodriguez ‘s love for writing began at an early age. Being an author is quite literally a dream come true for a girl who spent most of her childhood moments escaping to far-away lands and wondering into enchanted forests through the many books she's read growing up and still enjoys to this very day.
Having had studied Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design and Early Childhood Education at Penn Foster College her love for writing has always remained close to heart. Nilsa received her literary diploma from The Institute for Children Literature in 2009.
Born and raised in New Jersey, she now lives in sunny Florida with her husband and son where you can find her writing well into the night on her next novel.
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This post is part of the Rising Moon Blog tour, arranged by Full Moon Bites Blog Tours.

August 7th- The YA Cafe
August 8th- Abbey Ann's Bookland
August 8th- Fangs For The Fantasy
August 9th- The Bunny's Review
August 10th- A Dream Within A Dream
August 11th- Romancing the Darkside
August 12th- Tricia Kristufek