Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review of Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund


Now a fully trained unicorn hunter, Astrid Llewelyn is learning that she can’t solve all her problems with a bow and arrow. Her boyfriend has left Rome, the Cloisters is in dire financial straits, her best friend’s powers are mysteriously disintegrating, and her hope of becoming a scientist seems to be nothing but an impossible dream.

So when she’s given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters and use her skills as part of a scientific quest to discover the Remedy, Astrid leaps at the chance. Finally, she can have exactly what she wants—or can she? At Gordian headquarters deep in France, Astrid begins to question everything she had believed: her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and—most of all—her duty as a hunter. Should Astrid be saving the world from killer unicorns or saving unicorns from the world?

Upon hearing the words killer unicorn, I would imagine that most people would react one of two ways: “Ooo, blood and guts!” or “What the heck?!?!” In the first book of the Killer Unicorn series, Rampant, Peterfreund proved that she could provide both of these elements. While I loved the overarching themes and conflicts in Ascendant, I had issues with a few of the smaller details. If you want to read Ascendant, then get ready, because here you will find plot twists galore.

If you read Ascendant, get ready for plot twists, because they are packed in like woah. However, if I’m being honest, I feel conflicted. For me, the majority of Ascendant was wonderful. Yet int the last hundred pages or so, the reader is hit with a lot of major plot points. I love how everything turned out and the messages that came across. However, it did feel a tiny bit rushed, and not all of the characters felt genuine to me by the end.

A lot of things that I loved about Rampant remained just as awesome in Ascendant, like Astrid. I loved that sexuality was still an important part of the story. Not only did I appreciate Peterfreund’s honesty about how difficult trans-Atlantic relationship can be (because I was in once, and they aren’t easy), but I loved seeing a bit more of Cory. I even thought one element of the story became better. In my review of Rampant, I mentioned that the writing felt a bit over the top at times. While it still had its clumsy moments, it felt a lot more polished to me.

I think the strongest aspect of Ascendant is the ending, by a long shot. Maybe I’m the only one who read it this way, but I felt that this is a work for people who love the natural world and all that it has to offer, told through a tale of mythical beasts. Despite my complaints, I really did think Ascendant was fantastic. I look forward to seeing whether or not there will be any more books in this series, and if so, where the story goes.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours, but my own finished copy is on the way.

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