Monday, February 8, 2016

tsc4 The Divide (TSC #4) by Aubrey Clark | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Ah, yes. The Divide.

The first of a planned expansion to the previous trilogy. The Secret Circle came back in a misguided attempt to speak to the groups of newer fans who, perhaps, had watched the television adaptation. We’ve all heard the horrors of what happened to L.J. Smith and her two most prominent works: The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle.

If you haven’t, long story short, Smith’s publisher didn’t like where she was taking the stories and due to their contract, she lost the rights to continue both series in the way that she had hoped. It’s a low blow that is very, very common in contracts like the one Smith signed back in the day and an unsurprisingly tacky move for them.

So it will come as no surprise to anyone that I, a fan of the original series, was skeptical when it came down to the new trilogy; penned by Aubrey Clark. Let me start with one thing. Clark isn’t a terrible writer–she just isn’t L.J. Smith and she certainly doesn’t understand the characters.

Like… at all. My first complaint isn’t that, though. It’s the fact that story felt forced and inconsistent with what we already knew. And yet oddly enough it also felt like we were rehashing different things from the series original run.


The Divide starts off promising, and almost captures Smith's original tone, but ultimately leaves readers baffled and unattached. Beyond the more glaringly obvious nods to a new author, it’s sigh inducing to read these characters suddenly go from teenagers in the early 90s, to being suddenly modernized.

I’m not saying that this wasn’t a smart move on the publishers behalf. A lot of the crowd that came over to check these books out probably appreciate the sudden use of more technology but the timelines don’t mesh up well. And it’s distracting and completely unnecessary.

Which, in truth, leads to my number one thought of these new installments: they are UNNECESSARY. And the entire plot line is shaky at best and completely predictable.

Can you blame L.J. for her frustration?

Onto the rest…

Our main focus is once again through the eyes of everyone’s favorite witch, Cassie Blake. There’s something hallow about this portrayal of her and it’s a bit cringe worthy watching seemingly two Cassie’s battle it out for the narration.

It felt like a poor attempt to blend book!Cassie with television!Cassie and it was about sixty different kinds of “blah” for me.

Because at the end of the day, it didn’t feel like Cassie at all and that sucked. Other characters that didn’t feel like the ones we came to love? Ah, how about everyone? I’m not even being mean here, it’s like Aubrey Clark didn’t even read the original books (maybe a cliff-notes version) and instead…

Faye is a bit watered down, she is literally missing her spark and fire, Diana is a little more judgmental and definitely not the Diana Meade I remember–it saddens me deeply as Diana is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time.

Adam and Nick are the only characters who seem like their old selves, just with a few alterations that could be considered growth with time and age. And to fit in with the show it seems that the minor characters are even more minor than we, as readers, can remember.

It’s like they aren’t there at all, when they are just as important to the story as characters like Cassie, Faye, Adam, Diana and Nick.

I can’t say much beyond the fact that the other members of the circle were present but not present at all. We see the loss of one character, as well, to introduce the witch hunter plot–it is time to say goodbye to Melanie’s grandmother (?) and open up a can of worms that leads to danger for the entire circle.

In a totally predictable “twist” the new principal and his son are probably, most definitely the new hunters in town. Because why not, it worked for the first series! Let’s have the new principal be evil and after the circle, they’ll never see that coming!

As there are only three new arrivals to New Salem recently, those two and Cassie’s new Instant-BFF Scarlett are the obvious suspects for danger. Diana continues her out of character behavior by suddenly being snippy and hostile and judgmental and jealous towards Cassie’s new friend, while Cassie latches onto the idea that Scarlett is really her friend.

Much like Diana, the rest of the circle doesn’t trust Scarlett and believes it is way too convenient for her to show up and the trouble to start brewing again. But, surprise! Scarlett is a witch! Not a hunter. And… she is Cassie’s previously unknown half-sister.

Let me pause to let that sink in and fans of the original series can gather up the plot holes on that one. I don’t even need to say it. But basically: blah-blah-blah, Cassie and Scarlett are sisters and inseparable and spend a bit more time bonding with one another, tension rises with not only Diana and Cassie but Cassie’s relationship with the circle.

Then, Scarlett is seemingly kidnapped by those naughty little witch hunters and Cassie sets off to rescue her. Only… it was a trap and Scarlett, though she is her half-sister, is ready to shed Cassie’s blood and steal her place in the circle.

Cassie escaped with some help but during this altercation, Scarlett gets away with the master tools and things really only go downhill by then.

Other things in between: Nick pines after Cassie, Adam doesn’t stand up for Cassie much and seems to be putting the circle first, Diana continues to be OOC, Faye falls for Max–the principals son and a hunter.

The circle is basically marked and they have to figure shit out now or else they could all be killed. We leave on a note that Cassie, of course, will fight back and so will the circle but there’s still a long road ahead of them and their only hope is by using Cassie’s father’s spell book.

I don’t think I’d recommend this one to anyone but it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. I daresay that if there wasn’t the original books, I would have liked it–but the sad truth is that it doesn’t feel like the world we know, the characters we loved and although all the dramatics are there it just doesn’t captivate like it should and feels like a poorly drafted fanfiction.

There are so many plot holes and inconsistencies and timeline wrongness that it makes things cringe worthy. But, if you are longing for more of these characters and don’t mind picking through the fluff, you’ll be okay with it.

Times like this make me miss reading the first books for that first time or even watching the show. I’m going to begrudgingly continue with this new series but I can’t say that I expect it to improve.

Aubrey Clark, it was a decent attempt but you just don’t get these characters or anything at all about it. I can only imagine what The Vampire Diaries books look like, now, as you write for those.

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