Wednesday, May 16, 2012

[review] Sherrilyn Kenyon - Acheron (Dark-Hunter, #15)

Title: Acheron
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter, #15
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format read: Hardcover
Source: Personal collection
Buy from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookdepository
Summary (via Goodreads): 
The most anticipated story in the blockbuster Dark-Hunter series. The never-before-revealed story of the Dark-Hunter leader, Acheron.  He was made human in order to escape death, but in death he was reborn a god. . .

 Eleven thousand years ago a god was born. Cursed into the body of a human, Acheron spent a lifetime of shame. However, his human death unleashed an unspeakable horror that almost destroyed the earth. Then, brought back against his will, Acheron became the sole defender of mankind.
Only it was never that simple. For centuries, he has fought for our survival and hidden a past he’ll do anything to keep concealed. Until a lone woman who refuses to be intimidated by him threatens his very existence.
Now his survival, and ours, hinges on hers and old enemies reawaken and unite to kill them both.
War has never been more deadly... or more fun. 

Random paragraph: "She started to leave, then stopped and reversed course before she raked him with a scathing glare that was only a pittance of the hatred she felt stinging her every molecule for this man. 'You punk asshole. What was this? A game for you? This is my life's work you just annihilated and for what? Shits and giggles? Or was this nothing more than a fraternity prank? Please tell me that you didn't just ruin my integrity to get some kind of drinking points. This is something I've been working for since before you were born. How dare you make a mockery of me. I hope to God that one day someone degrades you like this so that you'll know, just once in your spoiled pompous life, what humiliation feels like.'" (pgs. 440-441, hardcover edition)

In short: I tried, but I don't think Sherrilyn Kenyon's books are for me.

From the author's note at the beginning, I was apprehensive about reading this book. She was very frank about the first half of the book: Acheron had a very traumatic childhood. Kenyon didn't shy away from any details -- he's exiled from his family from the moment of his birth. He is often beaten. During childhood, he is sent to be trained as a prostitute. He shuts himself down so that he won't connect to others.

One of the things this book did really, really well was its portrayal of abusive relationships. And not just the ones that are blatantly abusive, but the ones that are emotionally manipulative and more insidious; the ones that seem fine at first, but by the time you realize that something is wrong and off, it's too difficult to extricate yourself without suffering damage. This was evoked very well in the case of Acheron's relationship with Artemis -- he's so relieved to have found somebody who "loves" him that he can't see her darkness, and he puts up with her abuse because he doesn't know any better, because at least it wasn't as bad as before.

However, I felt the writing itself fell flat; the prose is pretty unremarkable. There were a few sentences that were terribly awkward:
The summer place was completely empty this time of year. Only a small handful of servants were in residence. Petra our cook, her child and her husband who was also the groundskeeper.
I've rarely seen a finished book with so many typos -- there were many areas that could've benefited from more commas, and I saw the wrong form of "you're/your" used twice.

I wasn't sure what to think of the portrayals of the Greek deities. At first, I was stunned that Artemis, the virgin goddess, was sexually interested in Acheron... but the more the book went on, the more it made sense. She is horrified at her own attraction, and when she first has sex with him, she slaps him: "How dare you!" If anybody finds out, she'll be made a laughingstock. The more I thought about it, the more I liked that Kenyon made the deities as fickle as they are in classical literature, but as the second half of the book came around, I felt that Artemis had become too villainous and too hysterical. To put it bluntly, it kind of sucked to see a goddess often used as a symbol of feminine strength reduced to somebody insane and oftentimes just plain stupid.

The last 260 pages take place in modern-day New Orleans. Soteria, a scholar, is presenting her findings on Atlantis; Acheron comes along and screws everything up. Soteria reacts... well... see the Random Paragraph above. Acheron is immediately fascinated by Soteria because he can't read her thoughts nor see her future. As dark forces come in to steal her Atlantean artifacts, the two grow closer together and fall in love; he opens up to her in a way he's never revealed himself to anyone. I thought their relationship developed a bit too quickly, and the ending -- what she sacrifices to make Acheron happy -- didn't strike me as entirely believable. (Though as somebody who's more on the rational/intellectual than romantic side, it could just be personal preference, heh.)

I checked this out because I know of fantasy fans who praised this highly who don't normally read this genre. It worked fairly well as a stand-alone; there were only a few places where I was confused. However, I really don't think this series is for me.

Overall: This series obviously works for a lot of people, but it's not my kind of thing.

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