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Thoughts On: Grasping at Eternity

A peacock beauty asleep on a bed.
I received Grasping at Eternity from the author, Karen Amanda Hooper, offering it for free. At a price: one review. Long, short. Positive, negative, whatever. It has to be a review.

So here's the payment, although I spend some time making sure I craft a review that justify my thoughts on the book, and provide some constructive thoughts to the author.

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Maryah doesn't have the perfect family--but it doesn't stop her from falling into despair when they're all murdered.

Still traumatized from the event, Maryah goes to Arizona to visit her grandmother, Louise. However, the large and varied family she finds there convinces her to stay indefinitely--all while her dreams is haunted by a death angel, who she thinks will take her to her family in the afterlife.

The "death angel" is actually Nathaniel, Maryah's soul mate from several lifetimes.

What Maryah doesn't know is that Louise, Nathaniel, and the rest of the "kindrily" has been reincarnated throughout the centuries, reborn each time with their memories and supernatural powers. Yet, in her last lifetime, Maryah erased her memories and powers. Everyone is unsure if she will regain them.

Oh, and the guy that might have gotten her to erase her memories is causing havoc. And he's still after her.

If only Maryah realizes that Nathaniel isn't a nut job.s

Notes

I jumped into this book blind. As in, I knew almost zilch about the story of the book. When I received it, all I knew was the title, cover, author, and the fact that it was a YA fantasy. I didn't even bother reading the summary before leaping right in. 

My expectations were mostly hinged on the fact that I had interacted with the author several times over the Internet, to the point that I felt a little pressure, although I didn't let it bother me too much.

Review

First of all, Grasping at Eternity is definitely better written than Karen Hooper's last book, Tangled Ties. The latter's about 3.5 out of 5 stars.

First Impressions

When I received the e-book and downloaded it onto my iPhone, the first line stood out to me:

I wanted to punch a hole in the sky, rip it wide open, and fly out of this world and into a magical one.

I marveled over how good it was--then I started nitpicking onto it. (does "wide" belong there? Is the last clause awkwardly phrased?) How horrible I am. ;p

Really, the prose in Chapter One was bumpy, but what hooked me was the fact that Maryah's family was quickly set up--and then promptly killed. My thoughts? "No-no-no-no-no. Not now. Are you really...?"

Yes Karen did. And one of the murderers treated himself to a snicker doodle from a dead person. Dark, but chilling. Not mind-blowing, but it's a brutal enough of a beginning to draw me into what would happen next.

Oh, the Dramatic Irony!

The book overall is centered around the protagonist, Maryah, and her soul mate, Nathaniel. Oh, and the fact that her memory has been erased and he had been reduced to an angsty mess for the last lifetime leads to an interesting exercise of point-of-view.

Mainly, the fact that Maryah has no idea about the fact she's living with a reincarnated family. Therefore, Nathaniel acts as another set of eyes in what would otherwise be a story about a teenage girl recovering from an unusual tragedy.

This is what makes this story unusual: Maryah isn't let on into the masquerade onto very late into the book. On her end, she has to deal with the mystery of Nathaniel and her dreams (which are actually happening), along with a guy at her school named River, who doesn't want to stay friends.

Behind the scenes, Nathaniel is angsting over the fact she no longer has her memories, and dealing with the man that killed several of his kindrily last lifetime.

Unfortunately (for them), the dramatic irony truly kicks in when they first meet. The crossing of POV characters is almost always an important event.

So important, Nathaniel almost get the both of them killed in the following sequence.

And Maryah starts thinking of him as Nut Job and wants nothing to do with him.

Really, Karen Hooper have gotten better with POV, compared with Tangled Ties. It probably helps that there're only two narrators. And it makes the "romantic comedy misunderstanding" be less cliche.

Take That, Twilight!

It's hard not to think of this as a jab at other paranormal romances. Especially when River comes in to form a Type 3 love triangle. Although some readers might hate her for not realizing that he will not settle with being friends, it makes sense because she's new in this town, and that River is one of the few people to approach her.

Teenagers aren't perfect, but atleast Maryah isn't blindly falling in love and throwing her life away for either of them. You got to admire her for that.

Story Mountain

This book also got me thinking about it from a storyteller's perspective. What is the main point of the book?

Answer: It's a reverse-romance (with the guys doing the pursuing), a mystery (what are these dreams?), a relationship drama (River's girlfriend), and some slice-of-life to boot.

Kudos for worldbuilding! It's not the most detailed or the most extensive, but with the town and the fantasy elements, and you had me wondering about a third way through how I can write a similar story without ripping this one off. Maybe another time.

Mourning Maryah

I had a harder time thinking about Maryah and her virtue as a protagonist, along with her role in the narrative and plot.

From one perspective, you can say she doesn't work. She spends a lot of time swelling on how her family died along with all the other problems that come her way. For some people, this work, but there's also the risk that she could be seen as too much of a wreck (I have my eyes on you, Tris).

But I would say her number one role motivation is her trying to fit in with her new family and community. And this works, because Nathaniel's main motivation is to get Maryah's love again.

And thinking about it, the obliviousness Maryah has throughout the book is similar to the obliviousness Yara had in Tangled Tides. Both worked in this aspect. However, I think the romance is handled better in Grasping at Eternity. The progression is slower, and the justifiction is more natural.

Oh, and action-wise, Maryah plays her role in the climax without falling in another trap. I called it though, but not in the exact way I thought it would unfold.

Rating

It was hard, but I would say 4.5 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the world that Karen Hooper presented in the book, and I'm definitely getting the sequel. It's the concept. I want to know more about this reincarnation deal. Not to mention the presentation.

It missed that "it" factor that makes a five star. Maybe it's the structure, or it just didn't resonate enough.

I'm happy that I can provide a positive yet constructive review.

YOUR TURN: What are your thoughts on Grasping at Eternity?
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Share this post...and then jump on the offer. "Buy" this e-book in exchange for reviewing it right after.

PS: Mom wants to read it too once we go onto vacation. How do I deal with that?