Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Dark Ones by Rachel Van Dyken

I read this book for the Unapologetic Romance Readers' New Years 2017 Reading Challenge. For more info about what this is, click here.

When I was a teenager, I used to spend all my time on this great site called Quizilla. It's now defunct, but it was basically the early 00s version of Wattpad + personality quizzes. With a few discerning clicks, you could find out which dysfunctional Care Bear you were (Nihilism bear), what weapon you were (sais), what element you were (water), or just forgo all of that and spend your time reading poorly written fanfiction or vampire smut.

One of the popular stories at the time was this serialized PNR, written in the second person in a "choose your own adventure" format, called "Would an Angel, a Demon, or a Vampire Fall for You?" The heroine was YOU, and as you read the story you would "choose" various actions and then the "result" would be a scene with the character that you were "meant" to end up with (i.e. the angel, the demon, or the vampire).

I bring this up, because Rachel Van Dyken's DARK ONES reminded me of this smutty story, except instead of an angel, a demon, and a vampire, it's about an angel, a siren, a werewolf, and a vampire. The heroine is not YOU, but she might as well be for all the personality she has. Like Bella Swan and her ilk, she's basically a place-holder for the reader; she's been told her whole life that she's ugly (and of course she believes it, because blonde hair and light eyes are so hideous), never mind the fact that all these paranormal frat boys are falling over her left and right, even though it's Forbidden. Smells play a key role in the sensory experience of the story. Everyone smells like a Bath and Body Works. Sex is a key plot point, and has the power to Change the World. There are dream sequences. The world is half-assed and not explained. The heroine is a virgin but comes like the hero just Konami Coded the hell out of her vag. It is, literally, just like those smutty, terrible stories I read as a teenager.

Ironically, that ended up being the book's saving grace. As with DEAD SEED, an actual story that I read on Quizilla that was "cleaned up" (no) and republished, I found it hard to be mad at something that had brought me such joy as a sad, angst-ridden little teen, no matter how badly (so, so badly) it was written. Plus, I picked this book up while it was free, so there was zero financial stake.

That said, this is the second book by Dyken that didn't work for me (the first was her new one, CHEATER). I'm thinking that her style might just be totally incompatible with my tastes. Still, it was cool to revisit the past, and I knocked one book off the Kindle, and got to do a great buddy read with some ladies from my Goodreads romance group, so let's not call it a total loss.

Read Sarah's review here, Heather's review here, and Celestine's review here.

1.5 out of 5 stars

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