Posted on my blog at http://rantsnscribbles.blogspot.ca/2012/07/review-once-by-anna-carey-plus-giveaway.html.
Even though I wasn't the hugest fan of the first book in this series, Eve, I was curious about what had happened to some of the secondary characters I had grown attached to. I had been patiently (not really) waiting for many months when I saw this on Edelweiss and decided to take a chance at requesting it. I hadn't had much success with Edelweiss prior to this, so I wasn't holding my breath. But thankfully, HarperCollins was awesome enough to accept my request and be my first acceptance on Edelweiss. I realized there were only 5 days left before the title would be archived so I rushed to download and read it. I didn't make it all the way to the end before it expired, but that's OK. My loss is your gain, because I had to obviously go out and buy a copy so I could finish the story, and now I want to share that with you. At the end of my review I will have a Rafflecopter form where you can enter for a chance to win my hardcover finished copy of Once.
My main complaint with Eve was Eve herself. I thought her to be wimpy, wishy-washy, and just not a stand-up character at all. I much preferred Arden, who ended up disappearing towards the end of Eve, which really annoyed me. But I have to admit that in Once, Eve has obviously gone through a period of growth during her time in Califia. It's nice to see her sticking up for herself and standing up for what she believes in, even if others don't completely agree with her methods. Also, the amount of emotional stress that Eve endures throughout this book is a testament to her growth, and how much more she is obviously going to continue to grow in the final book in the trilogy, Rise.
I have to admit that the storyline I was expecting to come out of this book did not actually happen. It was completely twisted and was a surprisingly intriguing touch, and I quite enjoyed reading it. I can't wait to see how it evolves by the end of the series.
I also fell in love with many of the new characters. The King was quite the enigma. You want to hate him for all that he has done that has caused the suffering of these girls and boys and the less wealthy people of his "Kingdom", but when he speaks about his reasoning behind his actions you can almost understand why he did it, or at least understand why he thinks it is necessary and not malicious. There are so many other characters I want to rave about, Beatrice, Charles, and so many more...but to tell you much of anything about them would give too much away. The one things I can tell you is the depth that Carey gives to each and every one of her characters is amazing. People are not just good and/or evil, they have motives, they have emotions, they make bad decisions, and they question themselves along the way. They are not perfect, and they all have flaws. They are realistic.
I also loved the setting for Once. The City of Sand, which is now the name of former Las Vegas is an amazing place to set up a new city. The many hotel suites are renovated and refurbished as living quarters (which is ingenious), and the logistical reasoning of choosing this city also makes a great deal of sense. It was a great touch!
The only issues I had with Once were typical of a second-in-a-series book, and that is primarily pacing. Although I enjoyed the story and the characters quite a bit, I did find it to be quite slow and sluggish in many sections. Also, I really hate when a story throws in an animal of some sort just for the added emotional anguish of taking it away at some point. I often want to stop reading a book (or watching a movie) at that point. It's not really adding much, if anything, to the story. All it does is upsets me, and for no good reason. Just don't do it.
It was great seeing so many familiar faces, even if just for short glimpses throughout the story. Some closure was given, but by the end even more was left up in the air. What will happen next?
And OMG, the end? Damn you cliffhanger of DOOM! I am not amused...not amused at all...is it April 2013 yet? /sigh