Synopsis from Goodreads: Since the death of their parents, Triona Pryor and her brother, Ben, have lived with their aunt and uncle in Camden, Maine. Now in her senior year of high school, Triona loves her family and friends, but she has always felt that she didn’t quite fit in…in Camden, or anywhere else. Enter Caleb Wallace, the devilishly handsome man who has recently moved to Triona’s small town. While their attraction to each other is instantaneous, it also proves to be dangerous…and deadly. When tragedy strikes, Triona flees to London for solace and to start her life anew. It’s there she discovers from an unlikely source that her family has been keeping secrets from her – secrets about not only her birthright, but her ultimate destiny as well. Armed with this knowledge, Triona finds herself thrown into a whole new world and into a battle to save the lives of everyone she loves.
My Rating: 3½/5 stars
My Review: I have always maintained that a good set of characters can carry a mediocre plot right to the end of a novel. I honestly never imagined that I would come across a book with just the opposite scenario. I did, however, find this to be true with Carol Oates’s Shades of Atlantis.
From the beginning, I knew I was in for something pretty sweet. The title alone had me hooked, as I love all things related to the Atlantis legend. (Lynsay Sands anyone??) I was right. The plot for Shades is really good and hands down the novel’s greatest aspect. It has lots of action, drama, and some very, very intense romance. To be completely fair, the combination of action, drama, and romance is sort of like a perfect storm and really keeps the reader moving through the book at near lightning speed from beginning to end. The super quick summary includes:
*Triona and Caleb are crazy, scary in love after only a few days of knowing one another. This part of the story gets really intense.
*Caleb and his family are something other than human. It takes Oates quite a while to get to the explanation of what the “other” actually is, but the dragging out of the big reveal worked quite nicely.
*A nasty little prophecy is floating around that Triona may be the beginning of the end for Caleb and his kind.
*As you may have guessed from #3 above, the book has a group of super-bad guys that will do whatever it takes to prevent Triona from fulfilling the prophecy – nastiness ensues!
Here’s the downside for me: I am a strong character lover, and Shades just really didn’t deliver for me in this respect. Here’s the skinny on the characters for me:
*Triona: if ever there was a case of someone needing to be told “suck it up, buttercup,” Triona is that girl. At some point, I just got used to the fact that no matter what the situation, big or small, Triona was going to break down into tears.
*Caleb: although delightfully lickable in terms of his looks, as my grandmother used to say, “pretty is as pretty does”. Caleb, while well-intentioned, is really kind of an idiot! Caleb’s trouble all begins when he tries thinking for everyone else and determines that everyone, especially Triona, is better off not knowing everything about the über-dangerous situation they are all in. Add to this the fact that Caleb totally wimps out and runs away at a critical moment, and you have a recipe for a wreck!! All of Caleb’s credibility and likability pretty much goes out the window after all the mistakes.
*The characters that were pretty awesome for me are Triona’s brother Ben, her BFF Amanda, and the super-awesome, lie detector Eila. For me, none of these characters were present enough. Each of these characters were the by far the strongest, most straight-forward and forthright in the novel, and I really, really wish there would have been a lot more of all them in this story. Ben is strong, courageous, and loyal. Amanda is faithful, kind, and brutally honest. Eila is beautiful, strong, and compassionate, all while being a super-human lie detector. It’s a pretty sweet super-power ☺
The Bottom Line: I really am torn over this book, as it had such a great plot, but characters that sadly fell short for me. The plot in this novel is strong enough to carry the weaker characters, and I think the book will actually play well with readers who are fans of super-intense, love-at-first-sight romance reads. This is a YA novel, but I would be remiss if I recommended it to the younger end of the YA reader spectrum, as the romance is certainly not sexually explicit, but it is quite intense.