Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Woohoo, I finished this review! When I woke up this morning, I thought I needed a review for the blog today and I knew I wanted to review River Marked. However, I didn't have time at all during the day to work on it... Then, today, I got home late and I also got my hands on Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts... Plus, I have some articles to read for work... so yeah, I was really doubting whether I'd be able to finish this review or not... but guess what? Yeah, screw the articles ^_^; I'll try to read them tomorrow morning instead. Yes, I'm such a bad little worker ^_^; but really, 24 hours in a day is definitively not enough!

Otherwise, life is the usual. I have another presentation next week (boooo!!) - hence, the literature readings :( Plus, I've been working on slides - sigh, my boss can really be picky ^_^; And I don't know if it's because of the presentation, but I've had a little BPPV relapse :( Been feeling fine for the past two weeks and oups, since Sunday, the vertigo came back :( It's not too bad, phew... but still very annoying, grrr. Luckily, my reading is going strong... Actually, very strong, so life is good :) And when reading is good, life is good... at least for me LOL.

Okay, I'll let you get to the review! Enjoy!

*Warning: I usually do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum in my reviews. However, it wasn't possible for this one. Therefore, read at your own risk!

River Marked by Patricia Briggs
published by Berkley in March 2011

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercedes Thompson series, Book #6

The Story: River Marked takes place not too long after the events of Silver Borne and opens with Mercy and Adam's wedding :) Then, for their honeymoon, Adam has organized a camping trip to Columbia Gorge. However, it turns out that the fae have not suggested the location out of good will; instead, they have been sent there because one of the fae had a vision and feels that something big will happen and that Mercy and Adam need to be there. Mercy and Adam quickly figure out that something is wrong... especially when they rescue a terrified man from the Columbia River. However, they never could have expected the River Devil, a creature from Native's myth able to yield some powerful magic. Luckily for Mercy, she won't be facing the monster on her own as she has the help of someone she never expected to meet... her father.

My Opinion: All right, onto the review. First, I'm really sorry about the spoilers, but I feel it was really hard to recap the book without them ^_^; True, the blurb was able to, but seriously, you don't really get a sense of the story from it, in my opinion.

Hmmm, there was some good and some bad in River Marked, but all in all, the good far outweighed the bad. Overall, I think the storyline was good and well executed, with a good pacing and lots action like most Mercy books... However, ultimately, I feel the storyline didn't matter that much, because the lure of River Marked was something else - Mercy's origins.

Still, I liked how the book started with some fun scenes - Mercy getting together with her friends Warren, Kyle and Stefan. I'd say those three are my favorite secondary characters in the Mercy Thompson series, so it was really a joy to catch up with them :) Then, there was the wedding. LOL, only Mercy would get a surprise wedding. Then again, it makes sense since I can't see Mercy planning a wedding LOL. If you leave the details to others, well yes, you'll get surprised :) What I liked the most is how everyone showed up for Mercy and Adam's wedding - not just Adam's pack, but Zee, Bran, Charles, etc. I really like how Mercy has an entourage around her, that she has friends she knows she can trust. Too many heroines in urban fantasy series are loners, with trust issues... so it's nice that in that aspect, Mercy is different :) Anyway, I really liked the wedding because it was light-hearted and fun, but also because it kind of tied up the loose ends. It feels like the series is ready to move into a different direction, that the love triangle is finally settled and Mercy's position in Adam's life, secured :)

Once Mercy and Adam embarked on their honeymoon, that's when the action started :) Like I mentioned, I thought the storyline was good - it was interesting and combined with a fast pacing, it resulted into quite a suspenseful book. Plus, I think Ms Briggs weaved in the Native American beliefs and myths in and connected the whole thing with Mercy's origins really well. To me, that was the major plus for River Marked in my opinion, readers finally finding more about Mercy's origins and background. I think it really lived up to our expectations and explained why Mercy is so special :)

It feels like I should say more about the storyline or this part of the book, but really I don't know what to say ^_^; I loved seeing Mercy and Adam's relationship... it's one of the rare time they've truly been alone and they enjoy each other. I also liked the new characters that were introduced, all those Native "myths." I truly hoped we get to see them again in the future... At the same time, it feels like their appearances is taking the series into another direction. I'd love for Mercy to meet other skinwalkers in the future - which seems to be a true possibility. Also, it seems like we might be headed for a big showdown with the vampires and that would really be interesting :)

To me, there was only two weaknesses to River Marked. The first was the absence of the Pack for most of the book. For me, what really makes the Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega werewolf world stand out is the dynamics of the Pack, the interactions between the werewolves. I kind of understand why Ms Briggs didn't include them in this book... without them, she got to focus on Mercy and Adam's relationship and also the whole Native aspect and Mercy's origins. I do admit that with the Pack, it might have been too much... However, it doesn't change the fact that I really missed them :(  Especially since I waited a year for my werewolf fix ^_^; The second weakness - and this is a complaint that I've had for quite a few books - is that I feel that Mercy is a bit of a "Mary Sue" heroine ^_^; It feels like at the end of the day, she's always the one saving the world. Okay, granted, she's the heroine and of course, the story revolves around her... however, it's not as subtle as some other books. Like in River Marked, it does make sense why Mercy has to be the one confronting the River Devil... yet, I can't shake the feeling. I mean, at the end, Mercy is the one who almost lost her life, but lo and behold, against all expectations, she came on top and survived... with a lot of injuries ^_^; And unfortunately, it's a bit of the same thing with Anna in Ms Briggs Alpha & Omega series.

My Grade: B+River Marked remains a good installment to the series and fans will enjoy it, if only to find out about Mercy's origins :) Once again, I'm already looking out for my next Ms Briggs werewolf fix ^_^;