Monday, July 30, 2012

Challenge Review: Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent

BIW Mini Challenge

The Before I Wake Mini-Reading Challenge is hosted by Rachel @ Fiktshun!
Title: Before I Wake
Series: Soul Screamers #6
Author(s): Rachel Vincent
Genre: Supernatural Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Elements: Demons, Necromancers, Reapers, Bean sidhes
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN, Harlequin Books
Format: Paperback, 346 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-373-21061-9
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Source: Bought from Book Depository
Rating: 5/5

Tagline(s): The last thing you hear before you die.

Summary: I died on a Thursday--killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul.

The good news? He didn't get it.

The bad news?

Turns out not even death will get you out of high school...

Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent “recovering,” she’s back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend.

But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won’t keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn’t just gambling with her own life….


Kaylee Cavanaugh's death was inevitable, but no one expected her life to end the way it did. It was a Thursday when Kaylee's life ended and her afterlife began. It has now been a month since that fateful day and Kaylee's going back to school. But pretending to be alive is harder than it looks. Then when Kaylee goes on a practice soul retrieval, she comes face-to-face with an old family enemy. The stakes have risen and it's not only Kaylee's soul at risk. 

Where If I Die had an air of hopelessness, inevitability, and soul-crushing heartache; Before I Wake has an air of being left adrift, but has undercurrents of power and heart wrenching beauty. Fan, myself included, wondered if Rachel Vincent could out-do If I Die, and she blew it out of the water with Before I Wake. 

I think we see Kaylee's true strength in Before I Wake. She has always been strong, no one will contest that, but in Before I Wake we see her at perhaps her weakest and still she manages to pull herself together. Kaylee is like the heart of the group--when she died, the group crumbled, they are only strong as long as Kaylee is. Kaylee's experience with death and her subsequent afterlife have made her stronger and has made her value life even more than she did when she was alive. 

Kaylee's selflessness is epic. There really is something "intriguing" and "rare" about it. And that is why Avari wants her. I liked the way Thane described the differences between Kaylee and Avari: "You protect people with lies, and he manipulates people with the truth. You keep saving those who've hurt you, and he hurts people who've done him no harm." Kaylee's unrelenting selflessness is what makes her one of my favorite heroines. I'm glad that she didn't lose it when she died. But there are consequences that come with that selflessness; some are good, some are bad, and some are lasting and can never be taken back. 

The addition of Luca to the gang was refreshing. We met him in Never to Sleep, and it was great to learn a bit more about him. Luca's abilities as a necromancer are pretty creepy, though. He's like an undead radar--he can tell you where the reinstated (i.e. Tod, Kaylee) are located, where a corpse can be found, AND he can reanimate the dead. It just makes you shiver in revulsion. But aside from his creepy abilities, Luca seems like a pretty great guy, and to be able to handle Sophie he must have unlimited patience. I don't know how he does it. 

I absolutely LOVED the developments in Tod and Kaylee's relationship. Their relationship seems more natural and effortless than Kaylee's relationship with Nash did. Kaylee and Tod started out as friends, grew to care and love each other, and now they are facing forever together. Their hearts literally beat for each other, and they are the only thing that makes the other feel truly alive. I couldn't help but swoon. I love how well they compliment each other. Tod refers to Kaylee as being the strongest person he's ever met, but I loved how when Kaylee was weak or vulnerable, Tod was her strength. I am so very happy that Kaylee chose Tod. I don't know how she withstood his charms for so long. 

Here are some of my favorite Tod/Kaylee quotes: 

"Forever used to feel like a curse. Now it feels like a promise." (Page 65) 

"You make me feel alive. Every time I touch you, I feel like there's some kind of charge flowing between us. Like tiny little bolts of lightning, setting me on fire." (Page 67) 

"You don't make me feel normal. You make me feel amazing, like I'm more alive now than I was back when my heart beat on its own." (Page 118) 

"How is it possible that every time you open your mouth, I--" fall more in love with you "--melt a little more? Seriously. There's nothing in here but mush." (Page 129) 

"Not much scare me anymore, but I'm terrified of losing you, Kaylee. I don't want to let you go long enough for that to happen." (Page 188) 

And these are only in the first half of the book. There's a lot more mushiness to enjoy and swoon over. 

We wondered if Rachel Vincent could out-do If I Die and she more than did so with Before I Wake. Now with the series finale coming in With All My Soul, Kaylee's out for revenge and I can't wait to see how Rachel Vincent will bring this series to a close. I have a feeling it will be one of the best finales I've ever read and I'll be sad to see it end. 

About this Author:

A resident of San Antonio, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her workspace with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks-seriously-and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

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