Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: YA contemporary, PNR, indies
Publication Date: April 9, 2013 (Spencer Hill Press – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Fate isn’t something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.
Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.
The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn’t the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.
Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself.
☆: 4.5/5 stars – HOLY crap. Now I need to know how this series ends!
Review: Okay. Wow. All of the previous love triangle complaints (along with others)? Totally gone. JLA knows what she’s doing, and she shows us that in “Apollyon”. While some of the Big Reveals I saw coming (or rather, they were kind of obvious when reflecting on the rest of the books so far), this book? Definitely a non-stop rollercoaster ride of a book. Especially in the feels department. My feels got their feels kicked in the feels multiple times throughout this book. If you’ve started your journey with “Half-Blood”, you simply must continue it with the penultimate book in the series, “Apollyon”.
I feel like Armentrout really upped her game in this one. Perhaps because there’s so much at stake, or perhaps she’s really finally hitting her stride within writing as a whole, or just in this series by itself. Either way, this is one hell of a book. While I admit I still haven’t read “Elixir” (the bridging novella between books 3 and 4), I don’t think it’s a mandatory read for everyone reading this series. It might explain a few things that go on in this book a bit deeper, but otherwise, I felt fine navigating without it.
What really impressed me was the fact that there are quite a few “tough stuff” issues in this book that JLA drops in (whether she’s actively conscious of it or not) couched in Alex’s story. Addiction, survivor’s guilt, PTSD – all of these issues are dealt with through everything that happens in this book. It’s not even really noticiable until you get to the end of the book, and you realize what these characters have gone through, and are continuing to go through in order to heal and keep moving. Usually, I’m not really for having “tough stuff” issues mixed into my PNR books, but JLA makes it work. And I’m glad she included them, because it does kind of give the reader hope, and gives the message that yes, all of this will pass – though it may not be easy on the road to recovery. And that’s exactly where we find Alex (Addiction/Survivor’s Guilt/PTSD), Aiden (Survivor’s Guilt/General Guilt), and Seth (Addiction) in this particular volume of this series.
To write this review spoiler-free is getting increasingly difficult, but I’ll do my best. What I will say though about the Big Reveal on the Big Bad – look through the rest of the books/novellas so far, and then think on it. It gets obvious after that. I admit that JLA has woven a very fun puzzle into the “who’s the real antagonist?” question of this series, and once we find out, it does kinda seem not much like a Big Reveal, but just an answer to a question that’s been there all along that we had to fight for. And the emotional payoff for that? Totally worth working on that puzzle in the end of things. JLA knows how to build a story, a book, a world by now, and so with “Apollyon”, I’ve handed over my trust just because of this very extensive puzzle that I didn’t even realize was there until this book.
Aside from a few editing issues, the technical aspects of this book or more or less perfect (really, JLA gets better and better with each book in each technical area), so I’ll be talking about other feels I had about this book instead. First: the action. It doesn’t stop. The tension doesn’t stop. The pacing is excellent – brisk, but not too brisk so that we can’t linger where we need to linger, and the tension of a brewing war between Alex, Seth, the Half-Bloods, the Pure-Bloods, humanity, and the Gods is constantly there. The fight scenes were over the top awesome, as were the monsters when we return to the Underworld. There is a LOT of fighting in this book, and it was great to see Aiden and Alex being a team (in more ways than one, if you catch my drift) in those fights. Loved those parts of the book.
And while the love triangle finally gets solved, there’s still friendship and a deep bond between Seth and Alex – so much so that she’s willing to help him with his uh, Akasha addiction (for lack of a better term for it), and willing to help him get better. Since there’s no real rehab for it, one must fight their way out of it. I thought this was a great metaphor for real addiction. There’s also Alex’s PTSD with dealing with both Seth taking her power and Aiden giving her the Elixir (plus everything else she’s dealt with since the very first novella), but she deals with it well. She deals with it in a healthy way – by reflecting on it, going through it, and then channeling it into something more healthy – which in this case, is helping to fight alongside Aiden. And then there’s Aiden’s survivor’s guilt which we really see (and it was nice to see him feeling so guilty and so terrible about things, it feels like we didn’t get to see that as much in previous books) and wanting to make up for not only having to force the Elixir on Alex, but his own guilt with surviving previous attacks on the council and on Deity Island.
Basically, we get a really good, hard look into the hearts of these characters in a way that we haven’t before – and I loved it.
The world continues to expand with new places, and expanding on old places (the Underworld) with new characters taking our heroes to places in order to fulfill their quest. The sensory language is extremely vivid and really leaps off the page in a way that it hasn’t before. There’s also the great pop culture references (mentioning “Supernatural” was a great touch) as was the tongue-in-cheek self-mention on JLA’s other current ongoing series, “Lux” – though not by name.
Final verdict? This book is Armentrout’s best yet, and definitely makes me want to hit the pre-order button for “Sentinel” (the last in the series). It’s really THAT good. But don’t take my word for it. “Apollyon” will be out from Spencer Hill Press in North America on April 9, 2013, so be sure to check it out then! Definitely one of the best of 2013 so far.