First of all, before I begin my review, let me just thank all the gods and higher deities out there for the fact that I am still alive to see this day.I've waited all year for this book to come out, and while it was a long one that pushed my endurance to the limits, I waited with much eagerness and patience, and I was rewarded accordingly with one hell of a sequel.
M-may I get some tissues, please?
Now that that's over with...
OH HELL TO THE YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!
It's no secret that I hold Written in Red close to my heart. I was introduced to the series when I saw Wendy Darling's review. Convinced that I was in for a ride, I got myself the book not too long after, but what I didn't expect was for me to love - no, ADORE - it so much. If you know me, I'm not usually into Paranormal or Urban Fantasy. I mean I read books from these genres, but I pick very selectively and only if the premise is interesting enough to reel me away from my post-apocalyptic and fantasy reads. Written in Red did and blew my socks out of the water and held me in its grasp and I didn't even care. It's that kind of book you'd do anything for. Let me kiss your toes, do your dishes, or wash your dirty laundry. Just please give me my The Others fix.
As for Murder of Crows? It was everything I wanted and more and it only intensified my adoration of the series and the characters I've grown to love. In this installment, the problem that started in Jerzy, the one where humans and Others alike were slaughtered, continues to escalate and has spread to other regions. Crows are being drugged and viciously killed here and there, protests against The Others continue endlessly, and tension between the two parties keeps on rising. Meg is still being hunted, and the Controller sent another one on her way... and things are about to get reaaally ugly.
Here are the things I loved aboutthis book:
Relationship Dynamics Between the Characters
This is effortlessly the best part of Murder of Crows and the series as a whole. I love the relationships between the characters. Even though there are so many of them in this book - Wolves, Crows, Hawks, Coyotes, Vampires, Elementals, Bears, Ponies, Harvesters and many others, all of them dangerous and a force to reckon with - they still felt very personal, like they're my close friends or something. Usually when there are so many of them, you start only connecting and feeling for a few, especially those with more exposure, but in this particular book, even though certain characters had lesser moments their presences could still be largely felt. I think what makes them stand out so much is how they treat and interact with each other.
Example, the dynamics between Meg and the Others... Because of her kindness and her innocent naivety, she softened the hearts of many of the creatures the rest of her brethren deemed highly dangerous. Not many of them received such gentle treatment from the other side of the coin, so it confused them and they eventually accepted her as their own. It was fun seeing them learn from each other and protect one another in their own ways. Another is between the Others and the policemen (Monty, Burke, Debany, Kowalski, Lorenzo etc.). Aside from Meg, Simon and his friends didn't have any reason to trust other humans, but because they police has shown how willing they were to ease the tension and keep the peace, we see the walls that were erected so tightly for centuries slowly crumbling down, to the point that Simon et al would sometimes show their vulnerability without hesitation. Knowing well how these two parties have been at each other's throats since the start of time, this was absolutely fascinating to read, and I'm thirsty for more because I want to see how the development between the two will continue to grow.
PLUS, SIMON AND MEG. Even though romance is hardly the central point of this book (which works well because it's the "we are all family" vibe that is), the continuous development of these two made me giggle like a schoolgirl. I just love how Simon remains to be confused of his feelings for Meg. He knows they're pretty much different - he a Wolf, she a Human/Blood Prophet - but he can't help the human feelings he keeps on getting whenever something concerns her. He placed boundaries ("she's a friend") and yet he himself can't find the courage to follow through them. I found all of this extremely adorable and endearing!If you loved their dynamic in the first book, expect to love it even more in this installment.
"The Terra Indigene shift without thinking about it," Merri Lee said. "At least that's the impression I've had - shifting from one form to the other is no more significant to them than us changing from work clothes to casual, comfy clothes. So maybe it didn't even register with Simon that he had shifted except that he felt cold. You did say he's been sleeping with you since you got home from the hospital."
"Yes, but as a wolf-shaped Wold," Meg said. "A furry Wold is warm and cuddly. A people-shaped Wolf is... a man."
I know it's pretty shallow, but it was kind of thanks to Twilight and the PNR books that followed its footsteps that I became wary of the genre. I hated how it romanticized these creatures that were meant to be dangerous and to be feared, so I was extremely happy when I found out Written in Red went back to the roots and made the very same paranormal creatures be what they were supposed to be - feral, brutal, merciless, and have moral compasses of their own that are beyond human comprehension.
It was therefore really refreshing to finally see a vampire being feared and being able to kill in a bloody fashion (pun intended); of wolves howling battlecries and ripping your stomach open with one swipe of its paw; of elementals and its disaster-named ponies (Whirlpool, Cyclone, Thunder, Fog etc) wrecking havoc and destroying everything in sight... we've seen a bit of their power in the first book, but you see them once more here and you'll be surprised how brutal they can really get if they really put their minds to it. Even though the chaos were far and few between, you can really feel the insanity of their strengths and capabilities as well as the stupidity of the humans who dared go against them.
Tension. Tension Everywhere.
This book is filled with a lot of tension, especially between the humans and the Others. As we all know, the continent of Thaisia has always been the property of Namid's creatures, and they've only "rented" it to people in exchange for goods and services. However, as the the human population grew, so did their want to expand and get more resources, which is kinda hard to do considering they're only borrowing (at a price) in the first place. But since it has possibly been milleniums since their ancestors made their treaty, they've forgotten this pact and unrest blossomed resulting to an animosity between the two that would sometimes erupt in violence.
To be honest, I kind of loved the uneasiness in the air. I hated the unfairness being given by the humans to the Others in the Couryard, such as refusing to deliver goods to them and saying they're out of stock whenever a paranormal creature would want to buy human merchandises. Because of this, I couldn't help siding with the Others in their plight. Every time I'd see a human overstepping his boundaries, I'd mentally make a snide comment saying, "Dude, are you forgetting your lives are pretty much borrowed right now? You're on their turf, you dimwit! They can turn you inside out before you can even blink!" And every time they're reminded of their place, I can't help but punch the air in victory. Yes, humans, I'm sorry but I'm kinda going to have to side with them. You were being douchebags.
ABSOLUTELY LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ! This was an exciting second book and my only complaint was that I wish it were longer (448 pages only?! This needs another 1000!!). It's kind of a big number to think about it, but frack, man, I was flying through the pages and the next thing I knew I was at the end already. That's a sign of a great book right there, folks - when you can't be bothered to be distracted because you're that engrossed. I loved everything about this book and I am eager to read more. The world-building is awesome, the characters are adorable, the dynamics are refreshing... is there anything else you could possibly ask for?
Actually, there is.
WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?!?!?!