Monday, May 21, 2012

Moonstone Series (Unbidden Magic Series?) by Marilee Brothers

So let me start out by saying that despite reading this series, and attempting to research into this question, I have approximately no clue what the official name of this series is. When I got the series from NetGalley, it was being offered as the Moonstone Series. Trying to search that term, however, gets me other people's reviews of that name, and that's about it. The Unbidden Magic series is what this is listed as on Goodreads, and I think on the author's site, but I have to assume that if Netgalley is offering it to me as the Moonstone series, that's probably what I should consider it.

The first book in the series, Moonstone, sets up the story of Allie, a young girl who, after an accident at home, suddenly finds herself with an interesting range of powers that she has absolutely no idea how to control. One day she's just doing her best to slide by, taking care of a mother who suffers from fibromyalgia (self-described), the next she finds herself able to control a giant rampaging bull and being gifted a magical moonstone pendant by an elderly friend, the town witch.. Nobody ever said life was predictable.

Allie's powers come with a catch, however: there are people who are willing to do anything to get their hands on the moonstone, and they quickly prove that they're more than willing to hurt whoever gets in their way. Throw in a hippie guardian angel, some daddy issues, a touch of fairy and demon magic, and a few studdy boyfriend options, and you have the Moonstone series to date.

It's hard for me to figure out how I felt about this series as a whole, because it has such an interesting blend of good and bad elements. It's far from a perfect series, and there are a LOT of things that annoy me about it, but a lot of the same things that annoy me also make me happy in other ways.

Take Allie's mother, Faye, as an example. The woman is incredibly selfish, and, if we're being honest, is nothing more than a drain on society. She lives with her daughter in a trailer on the land of a family member, doesn't work, hooks up with a sleezy lawyer, and claims to have fibromyalgia in order to claim disability from the state. She's an incredibly self-centered woman, and there are several times in the story that Allie is almost taken away from her. I honestly hate her character, and the fact that Allie doesn't think there's anything wrong with this, just accepts it and continues with her life, bothers the hell out of me. It seems like Allie should know better, should hate her for the way she's treated, but she doesn't. And while I hate that, there's also a part of me that knows that this portrayal isn't exactly a false one, for a young girl. And although I like to think of my main characters as older, sometimes, Allie really is just a teenage girl; the fact that she loves her terrible mother is like this great, unmentioned depth to the story. Like, if Brothers had made a bigger deal out of this, elaborated on it more, Allie and her mother would have been so much more real.

Another aspect of the story that was both amazing and terrible was Allie's love life. First off, in about every book, Allie finds a new guy that wants to hook up with her. And that's a little weird and excessive, but alright. I kind of love the fact that Allie isn't one of those typical heroines who date one guy in a book and suddenly they're in so much love and they're devoted to each other and they're perfect and they're going to get married and have babies becausethey'resoperfectforeachotherandamaizngandaljhdflkajsdlf. Like, maybe that happens when you do finally find that one guy, but how often does that happen when you're a teenager? Not just a teenager, how often does that happen as a teenager, with the very first guy they fall in love with and date? Not that damn often.

Much like Tamora Pierce, whom I love for this same reason, among others, Brothers' main character doesn't fall in love with a guy in one book, and become the super couple where the rest of the series always has their relationship problems traipsing all over and hijacking the plot. Allie meets and hooks up with different guys and doesn't just automatically settle down, and I love that about her. 

On the other hand, if I had to pick one thing I absolutely hate about the modern YA book fads, it would be the stupid love triangles that every single book seems to have, and it seems that this series isn't an exception. But I will give Brothers mad props for not letting those love triangles take over the book completely, turning an otherwise good plot into nothing more than a teenage girl's relationship problems. 

Overall, I'd say that I had a few problems with this series, most notably the way that the plot just tended to conveniently fall together--for instance, a plot revolving around a prophecy that nobody even bothers to question, just believes in the first time they hear it--but I also feel that it's pretty good. It's not a perfect series, but that's okay. It's a really nice series to read if you're just looking for something small and simple to read in your free time, and I'm sure that younger readers who enjoy it even more than I did.

I would recommend this book to typical fantasy fans who enjoy simplistic YA books, and I think I'd recommend this book to fans of the new YA fairy fad, like fans of The Faerie Path books by Allan Frewin Jones. 

Like always, if you think you might be interested in this series, the first four books are published and released, and can be found at your typical bookstores. If you can't find the first book there, then it can also be found on Amazon!

And as a final plug, if you're interested in winning a signed Last Breath bookmark fom Rachel Caine's tours, the giveaway won't be ending until June 10th. 

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