Friday, 10 January 2014
Fading Amber by Jaime Reed
Published by: K-Teen/Dafia
Genre: Fantasy (Young Adult)
**Caution: contains spoilers** You might want to skip synopsis and go straight to review.
Fading Amber is Book 3 of the Cambion Chronicles Trilogy.
In Book 2, Burning Emerald, Samara became a Cambion and Caleb was badly injured and hospitalised. Samara's new supernatural status attracted an unsavory character, a demon named Tobias (her sentient Lilith's mate, returned to claim her). Lilith was pleased that her mate returned for her and Samara had to fight to maintain control of her body so that Lilith would not take over her consciousness. She began to experience black-outs that became more frequent and the novel ended on a cliffhanger.
Fading Amber begins with Samara back home in her room. She is trapped, suspended from the ceiling by Lilith. She is aware that she has had another black-out and does not know how she came to be there. The last thing she remembers is leaving her school building. Lilith eventually releases her from suspension and Samara tries to communicate with her for an explanation, but she refuses to respond. Samara finds a note in her own handwriting urging her not to try to find out what happened, signed by Lilith.
Sam returns to normal life - school and her part-time job at Buncha Books. Caleb is out of hospital and his brothers are still in town. Tobias seems to have disappeared, as has Malik, the deceased teenage boy he took the form of. Tobias' body has been separated (and hidden) from his soul and he is trying to get it back. He knows Caleb and his brothers are responsible and know where it is hidden and he sees Samara as his only chance to get it back. Sam and Caleb, with the help of his brothers, try to stop Tobias' soul before it retrieves and unites with its body.
Caleb and his brothers are in trouble with the Santiago family (the Cambion leaders). They are considered part-responsible for the damage caused by their corrupt father (which resulted in the death of innocent people and Sam's friend Nadine) and it would seem only a matter of time before they are held accountable and punished. They are being watched by Ruiz to make sure they don't step out of line and, to some extent, are protected by Nadine's mother (a powerful Cambion of the Petrovsky family).
Caleb and Sam have a dilemma: whether or not to become bonded. If they do, they will become united - mates for life - and there will be no going back if they do. Sam's "purity" is protection against the power of Cambions and demons, so sleeping with Caleb would leave her vulnerable. However, if they bond, their unity would make them stronger and give them greater protection from the Santiago family. It could nullify the threat to their safety (and that of Caleb's brothers). Because of this, they are under some pressure to "mate" but they don't want to rush into it or do so for the wrong reasons. Caleb and Sam have a difficult decision to make and the pressure to do so mounts....
I am a fan of this series and I am pleased to say that this final instalment exceeded my expectations. It is a fun read. The best thing about it for me is the humour - something I have not come across in many YA fantasy novels and something that is not easy to achieve. I would say the thing that makes Jaime Reed stand out as a YA fiction author is her skill at weaving humour into a plot; I marvel at the way she effortlessly combines laugh-out-loud moments with tension, poignancy and even intimacy.
Both Sam and Caleb are such likeable characters and they are great together. Caleb does not behave like a fictional boyfriend but a real one (aside from the sentient inside him, naturally). For example, Caleb is not a morning person and so he is not thrilled about having to get out of bed early to pick Sam up for school - of course he does it but he'd rather be in bed sleeping. They don't do soppy or sentimental and yet they find ways to express their love for each other so romantically that it is hard to avoid that warm and fuzzy inside feeling when they do. (I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's true!) Another great skill by this author.
I found myself drawing parallels with the Twilight series: Sam and Caleb's relationship is shrouded by a dilemma in the same way that Bella and Edward's was. Caleb's absence for most of the second book, together with the interaction between Sam and Tobias reminded me of the plot of New Moon. In this final book the two of them face a threat from the Santiago family in the same way that Bella and Edward did from the Volturi in Breaking Dawn. However, I also believe The Cambion Chronicles is showing The Twilight Saga what NOT to do (i.e. it is absent of the irritating subtext [religious or otherwise] that angered so many readers).
As I mentioned in my review of Living Violet, I do get irritated by the amount of YA fantasy novels that make chastity a theme running through the plot. I took issue with it in the first book and said I could not understand the significance. Well, I understand now, since all is made clear in this final instalment. I now believe this element of the plot is simply covering a topic that many teenagers experience - whether to have sex or not and all the pressures that go with having to make the decision, and it does so without judgement.
This is a fantastic trilogy (unlike the Twilight* saga I am not embarrassed to admit that I have read them) and one of the best under this genre that I have read. It is not often I find a full set in a series that consistently satisfies my reading experience - and saves the best to last.
If you like YA fantasy fiction with a dash of romance, this series is a must read that I am certain will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear.
31 January 2014
Update: I believe the Cambion Chronicles has an endearing quality that will leave readers returning. I have just re-read the entire series and enjoyed the reading experience all over again.
*I get both why some people love it and others hate it.