Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Nine Lives of Chloe King (#1-3) by Liz Braswell | Rating: ★★★★☆

Before it was a brief–cancelled too soon!–television series on ABC Family (now named Freeform) The Nine Lives of Chloe King was a little book series of three unique and sweet installments targeted at young adults in the early 2000s. Think Gossip Girl meets mythological creatures and chosen ones with a twist, in terms of its tone and lead-ins. Do I have your attention yet?

What I loved about it was that it didn’t take itself too seriously and was flawed, it could be messy and the characters could be hasty, but it also zoomed in on the mythology of it quite well. It was a fast read with a lot packed into it and left me on the edge of my seat multiple times.

Plus, the characters–Chloe and her friends–all acted like the teenagers they were meant to be. They cursed. They did stupid things. They were fickle with their hearts and sometimes their friendships. They hooked up. They fought with their parents.

So, no. You won’t always like them. Chloe's best friend, Amy, for example, could often rub you the wrong way in this little guy. Looking back now, as I reread the bind-up of the entire trilogy in my twenties, they do and say many cringe worthy things. But I think that’s what makes them real and the novel itself solid. It’s fantasy and full of things we couldn’t ever imagine dealing with, but reading between the lines they are accurately portrayed.


Because the original print of the novels were all quite short, I think this is one of those rare cases in which the series is a lot better suited as a collection. It’s easy to get lost in Chloe King’s world and thoughts and because the action and the romance is so dishy, so captivating, it’s nice to have one nifty collection to binge.

For some odd reason, I have to remind you not to expect too much from it. One of the reasons a lot of people felt let down by the series was because they weren’t reading it for what it was and that’s disappointing. And for others, this may just not be your cup of tea–and that’s okay.

Let’s talk plots.

I’ll go in order, but first, a general idea of the story. It is fun and unique and I loved the concept behind it. Colour me impressed, I just love the mythology Liz Braswell (as Celia Thomson) used in it because it isn’t something all that common in young adult literature. While the show is great in its own right, in spite of all the differences made for the adaptation, the novel has a spark of something else entirely that I can't explain.

In its basis, the plot is very generic but all these little details and how much creativity and thought is what makes it stand out in an overcrowded genre. Frankly, it baffles me that the books and the show don’t get a lot of love because they are so damn entertaining.

You really can’t go wrong with the tagline: “dying can really change a girls life”–I mean, hello? Do I have to repeat myself?

The Fallen is the first of the three and because of it being an introductory of sorts, it is the weakest link but is by no means bad. We get a kickass look into Chloe King and what makes her undeniably teenager. It is her birthday and in the first chapter, she is seen cutting class with her two best friends–perfectly normal, right?

All’s fun and sane until she dies and somehow is brought back to life. Saying this is startling to Chloe and her friends Amy and Paul would be an understatement. How did Chloe survive a fall that should have killed her–and by all accounts did? And how did she come back to life?

The mystery of it sets off a chain of events that can be only described as engrossing self discovery. While balancing all these new things in herself, including a strange amount of power and the first steps into adulthood, we learn a lot about what she is and who she could be.

But beyond the mythological aspects, beyond these changes, she still has very teenage plots and problems, like the ongoing changes in the dynamic between herself and her friends (two have begun to pair off!), the curiosity over where she came from (as she was adopted) and typical teenage angst when it comes down to school and her mother.

There’s a little romance, too, that isn’t quite like the typical love triangle scene. And then it is. And then it isn't--in any respect, it keeps you on your toes. Chloe has two boys vying for her attention and they are just as likable and realistic as she is. But they, too, have secrets–and she definitely has more in common with one than the other. Aylec and Brian both bond with her in different ways and it’s nice to see how she acts with both of them, because they bring out different sides in her.

The Fallen is all about that angst and hormones and embracing a new side to oneself. The second installment, The Stolen, is all about learning and growing when it comes down to Chloe’s newfound self and life. A lot has changed for Chloe King and in such a short amount of time, life has suddenly turned dangerous and upside down.

We learn a lot about the Mai this time around and find Chloe in isolation from her mother and her longtime friends. Aylec is the only person she is able to see frequently, due to their shared race–and she is finally amongst people like her. But danger lurks in the midst of her new “family” and she finds she quite misses life as it once was.

But with the Order–Brian’s people, oh Brian–hunting her down and the probability that her mother is in more danger now that Chloe can’t go home to protect her, things are looking down for her and the suspense is high! There are some light hearted scenes this time around but for the most part, The Stolen is darker, grittier and full of heart pounding moments.

Between that and the discovery of the Mai history, I think it is the best of the trilogy and gave us a lot of possibilities and equal parts swoon-worthy and thrilling.

In the last installment, The Chosen, we see Chloe combine her old life and new life and fight a serious battle. We learn more history of the Mai, we get more answers to long standing questions and of course we find out more about Chloe’s blood relatives; which sets up a bittersweet feeling because they are dead before the novel begins.

As the clock ticks, Chloe learns who to trust and who to not, but she also finds herself struggling to keep up. Not long ago, she was a normal girl–with a normal life and such mundane problems. Now,
 she is suddenly thrust into a world she’d never asked for and is practically royalty due to her status.

People are after her remaining lives–can she survive it?

Or was she doomed from the start, like the mother and sister she never got to know? Are the Mai really her family, or are they just hoping to isolate and use her? Kill her? And with the Order still after her…

Well.

Other minor plots are her relationships with the boys. We get an endgame–many people won’t like it, but I loved it personally and won’t spoil who ends up with who.

The Chosen wraps up the action-packed plots we’ve engulfed ourselves in and gives us a sense of optimism for the future of Chloe and the Mai. All in all, it’s a solid end note to a sweet series. Braswell hits all the right notes with this delightful series and simply does not get enough praise for her creativity, her realistic characters, and her wonderful story telling skills. The Nine Lives of Chloe King is a blast from start to finish and will leave you wishing you have claws.

No comments:

Post a Comment