CARAVAL was like that for me. The writing was gorgeous and the plot was addictive, and the perfect blend of adventure and romance. In a way, it really reminded me of the stories I enjoyed as a young girl, so I was able to overlook some of the flaws that made it a tough sell for other readers.
LEGENDARY, on the other hand, is totally different-- and not in a good way. If the characters' names hadn't been the same, it would have felt like a different book in a different universe. With CARAVAL, it really did feel like a game with real stakes and consequences, until the unpopular ending where everything gets weird. With LEGENDARY, it feels like a fever dream. Even when Scarlett and Tella end up playing the game a second time (as with L.J. Smith's Forbidden Game trilogy), it ends up feeling more like a fetch quest than it did like an immersive, fully sustained fantasy. Also, apparently there are gods now, because of course there are. Let's make this a literal deus ex machina.
I was already kind of predisposed to not like LEGENDARY because the annoying sister, Tella, is the narrator of this book. I am not really a fan of authors swapping out narrators mid-series, especially if I really liked the first narrator. Tella is a difficult heroine, which could have made her interesting, if the author didn't seem so afraid of having a difficult heroine in the first place. She actually does with Tella what SJM did with Rhysand, finding all these unbelievable ways to make her more "likable." She manipulates and lies to people because she really does care about them, really. She flirts with boys, but it's actually an act, guys, really-- she doesn't, like, go all the way, unlike what we were led to believe in CARAVAL. Oh, and did you know she's been seriously betrayed? That emotional baggage, though. Here's the thing; I love antiheroes and unlikable characters, but I don't like when their behavior is totally excused or given a pass as an excuse to make them seem "good." This reworking of Tella actually made her more repulsive, and I was incredibly annoyed to see at the end that the author seemed to miss having an "annoying" sister to stir up drama, so she came for Scarlett's character next. GIRL.
I loved Julian as the hero in the first book. I didn't really care for Dante as much in this one, and the "twists" surrounding his character failed to impress me. It felt so anticlimactic, whereas in the first book, I learned things about Julian that made me literally gasp. As with the previous book, the author throws in a motley cast of hot guys and costume fan service, but the hot guys in this book weren't all that impressive. I hated Jacks, and the fact that he was always eating apples kind of felt like a weird Apple Jacks pun that didn't really make sense. Maybe that vampire business could have been more interesting in a darker book, but this book was never allowed to be as dark or ominous as the first book.
I'm not very excited for the final book in this trilogy anymore, but I'm probably still going to read it.
2.5 out of 5 stars