Review: Obsidian and Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout

So, the ever-fabulous Vicki Keire mentioned on her blog that she was reading something called the Lux series. She called them amazing. I decided to check it out. Turned out I’d actually read the blurb on Amazon a few times, and thought, “Hmm, sounds too much like Roswell. Pass.” But, with a solid recommendation from someone with good taste in books, I decided to test the waters.

I have now come up for air. Geez. Engrossing, let me tell you.

What I love about these books is that they’re basically Twilight with aliens instead of vampires, but Katy says and does all the things you were screaming at Bella to do. Like, when Bella’s all, “Oh Edward, I don’t care that you’ve been treating me like a leper because I have exactly no spine,” Katy’s like, “Get out of my face, Daemon. You’re a prick.”

But I’m not going to lie. These books are not exactly original. It just goes to show that a story can still be engaging, even if you already heard it before, if it’s done well. And these are well-executed romance books. And the sexual tension is palpable. Geez. Eye-rolling, lip-biting… Damn.

The other thing that’s awesome about these books is that they’re set in Petersburg, WV, which is about forty-five minutes from where Bramford (from Breathless) would be if it actually existed. Still, if you’re a fan of both of the books, you’ll note that both Katy and Azazel go shopping for Homecoming dresses in Cumberland, MD, and that Winchester, VA is also mentioned quite frequently. So, if the worlds all meshed up, the DOD guys could run into the Sons of the Rising Son in Keyser or something and compare notes over coffee. It’s a trip reading about stuff so close to where I grew up. I had a blast with that.

Yeah, so you should read them. That goes without saying, even though I just said it. But now, I shall whine over trivial things that don’t matter that much. Also, there may be SPOILERS. You have been warned.

Okay, so I really am getting sick of these scenes in YA books where guys like start trying to have sex with girls and then stop. I get why people do it. A-You blow a big wad of tension once sex happens in a romance, and it can be weird to figure out what to do afterwards. B-This supposedly makes a guy look sweet and amazing, and (apparently) the message here is that if guys really like you, they will not have sex with you until the time is “right.” c-You never run the risk of your leading man looking like a rapist, because by the time they actually get down to doing the deed, your leading lady is practically begging for it.

But, see, I think this is sloppy writing for a number of reasons. a-It’s completely, totally, and in all other ways unrealistic. b-It sends a weird message about sex that I don’t understand, and I feel could be dangerous for teenage girls. Please, girls, let me know that you realize that these are pretend boys, and that if you actually let a boy start undressing you, you know he’s not going to stop at some point and say you should cool off. You’re intelligent enough for that, right? Of course you are. I’m overreacting. c-It is becoming cliche, and I am now able to spot actual sex scenes as opposed to fake-outs by how detailed the description is. The more I know where exactly his hands are, the more I’m certain he’s going to back out at the last second.

So, you don’t want them to have sex yet? Okay. Fine. Don’t make them do it. But you could still have hot and heavy scenes that got cut off for various reasons. Someone could try to kill them before they get there. Someone could show up (like a parent? Where are the parents? God, just kill them off like I do. They’re always in the way, and dead parents is way good for angst) and interrupt them. Someone could reveal a secret accidentally in the heat of passion that made the other partner so angry he or she is turned completely off. I mean, seriously. There are ways to handle this. Better ways.

Hell. The girl could stop it for once.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I happen to have done this myself. That there’s a scene in Goodbye, Blue Sky in which Nora and Agler are going at it, and Agler stops her, and is all, “Maybe we’re taking this too fast.”

I hide my head in shame. You’re right. Epic fail.

(I, however, would like to point out that Nora and Agler don’t even end up together. I mean, not yet, anyway. They might at some point. I haven’t decided.)

Okay, well, that rant is over. The other thing that kept annoying me in this book was the typical romance cliche in which the people who are supposed to be together don’t end up together because of a few misunderstandings that could be cleared up in three sentences, but they refuse to explain them to each other, even though they’re spending tons of time together. This drives me insane.

And I would say that, in this case, it’s really second-book-in-a-series syndrome. Here’s the problem, okay? A romance is about two people getting together. Once they are together, the story is over. But in a YA romance trilogy, you have to keep writing about the same couple. So, in the second book, you have to one (or more) of the following: a-break them up, b-introduce a love triangle, or c-destabilize the relationship enough that you can create tension of some kind. It’s messy but necessary. Frankly, I hate it. I’m waiting to read the trilogy that gets it right. No one wants a couple who was happy to be unhappy. (That’s too much like real life.) But happy people are boring. It’s a conundrum. (Hey, I have done this myself. Remember Jude and Lilith in Trembling? And I caved to love triangles in both the Apocalypse Trilogy and The Toil and Trouble Trilogy.) How do you sustain romantic tension??? I want more options, dammit!

Right then, so go pick up Jennifer Armentrout, kay? You won’t be sorry.