Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

🦇 Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers Halloween 2018 Reading Challenge for the category of: A romance about aliens 🦇

This author's Lux series is basically what launched her from quiet indie author cult status to mainstream publication fame. A lot of my friends enjoy both her young adult paranormal romances and her contemporary new adult romances, so I was curious to pick something of hers up and see if I liked it. After picking up THE DARKEST STAR as an ARC, I'm no longer quite as curious. If this book is representative of her other works, we have some problems.

THE DARKEST STAR is basically like if you took the plot of TWILIGHT and injected it with more violence and sex, and tried to instill a bit of superficial commentary about illegal immigration and ICE through the use of aliens, a la District 9. Evie is an Ordinary High School Girl™ who lives in a world where aliens, called "Luxen," have made contact. They are called Luxen because they have magic light powers and usually that just makes them Groin-Meltingly Hot™ but sometimes if they are evil, they zap humans' eyeballs out.

Evie meets the Luxen while out with her Token Lesbian Friend™ and they go to the forbidden alien night club to meet her best friend's girlfriend, who is also a Luxen. It's super obvious that this is what she is, so I had a HI-larious moment later when Evie finds this out and is shocked. Anyway, that's when she meets the Pecs-and-Abs™ love interest, Luc, who is basically Edward Cullen with even more personal space issues. Also, he can read minds and finds Evie so fascinating. His personality can be summed up in one word: abs. In two words? Low-riding jeans. "Wait, Nenia," you're saying, "that's not a personality." Correct, friend. Because he doesn't have one - unless you consider being a possessive, lamely sarcastic alphahole a personality, in which case, that is his.

At Evie's school, the Luxen sit at their own Groin-Meltingly Hot™ cafeteria table, but unfortunately an evil Luxen is going around zapping humans' eyeballs out. This causes the kids to wantonly discriminate against the Luxen students against their school and say that they should basically be deported. One of Evie's ex-friends is the ringleader for this movement and Evie thinks she is so lame, but doesn't really do anything to stop her except saying, "Hey, not cool." Evie's ex-best-friend responds the way all bigots do - by flipping the verbal middle finger and then spending all night posting on message boards about how much they admire President Trump. In a word: Evie does jack shit. Unless you count agonizing over whether to bang or not to bang Pecs-and-Abs™, in which case she does that thing. Many, many times! But he's an evil alien, oh noes! But oh, she's not a bigot.

The story continues with a vain attempt at a mystery subplot, with Evie discovering that she's not an Ordinary High School Girl™ after all (what a shock! a young adult paranormal romance where the heroine *isn't* ordinary?), Luc trying to figure out who the evil Luxen who's zapping out humans' eyeballs is while also Hiding Potentially Existential Crisis-Causing Information from the Heroine for the Heroine's Own Good™ while also mooning over his Pure and Long Lost First Love™, much to Evie's admiration and jealousy (guys who moon over dead girls are so romantic - oh wait).

There are a lot of similarities to TWILIGHT, between the mind-reading and the evil human-hunting Luxen who wants to kill the heroine, the popular Luxen table at the school, and the way that Evie gets involved with Luc's whole "immortal" family (except they're not exactly his family, just friends and associates - so actually maybe they are his family after all, but in the Italian mob sense). Evie was especially unlikable as a heroine because she had no personality. I heard the heroine in the original Lux series was a book blogger, but this heroine has no interests and nothing about her was interesting. I also thought the twist about her was super lame and a cheap excuse to legitimize Insta Love™.

I feel like this book tried to do many things, and it did almost all of them badly.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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