Review: Opal, by Jennifer Armentrout

I think Jennifer Armentrout might read my blog. Either that, or she realized that it no longer made sense for Daemon to be like, “Kitten, I want to take it slow. Let’s not do it.” Remember how I made this big whiny thing about why you shouldn’t always make the guy stop the sex in my review of Obsidian and Onyx? I suggested that they could be interrupted by people, like parents.

Armentrout totally took this idea and ran it into the ground in Opal. Katy and Daemon were interrupted a gazillion times, by nearly every other character in the book.

Now, I’m not saying she actually reads my blog. (But it’s possible. I mean, she probably has a google alert for her name, you know, and that review could have popped up, and she might have read it. If so, hi Jennifer! I want to be you when I grow up! :P) I do think it’s doubtful that actually influenced her writing of Opal, however, considering that I posted that review in September, and Opal just came out a few weeks ago. She publishes with a small publisher, and they might be faster than a big NY one. But there’s no way they’re that fast. If she finished the book at the end of September, and turned it into them in October, I seriously doubt they got it out by December.

But maybe they did. I don’t know. Anyway, I’m just saying that I’m not claiming to have ACTUALLY influenced Jennifer Armentrout. Seriously. That was a joke.

All right, on to the review. There will be some minor SPOILERS, but what are you worried about, huh? This is a teen romance series. The plot is somewhat incidental. If there were no Katy-Daemon scenes, we would not be reading this book. Right?

Well, you might not want to know this. SPOILER!!! They totally do it. Also, I think there was a scene in which Daemon went down on Katy, but it was kind of vague-ish and it could have just been fingers… It wasn’t, you know, explicit in the least.

Which leads me to my next point. Okay, so in the last review, I was saying that “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.” This is still true, and I’m unsure what to do about it as a YA author.

Okay, I’d say that these books are already skirting a thin line. Like, how did I put it… “Eye-rolling, lip-biting…. Damn”? Yeah, that’s still so true. I mean, these are sexy books. They evoke intensity within the reader, and therein lies their power. And I’m not particularly comfortable with the idea of detailed sex scenes in YA books. Or, let’s say, I’m not comfortable with sex scenes in a YA book that are designed to be… sexy. I think that’s going too far. I mean, someone might be able to do it, and I’d read it and be fine with it. But from an author’s perspective, I get how difficult it is to try to write a non-icky YA sex scene.

What do I usually do? I narrate around. I fade out.

And the narrating around is what Armentrout ultimately decides to do here. So there’s a sex scene, but it’s a description of emotions. It’s, um, what do all the book bloggers and newbie writers like to complain about? Telling, not showing. (Narration can be good, ummkay? If I showed EVERYTHING, we’d all be bored to tears.)

And like I said, I get why she does it, but for me, it fell really flat. All through these books, at every turn, we’d been with Katy and Daemon for every second of their intimacy. We knew details, like when shirts came off and when hands were on hips or stomachs, etc. Admittedly, anything racier was implied rather than spelled out. Then we were sort of dropped out of the sex scene, except on a very emotional level, which was described in detail.

That just wasn’t enough for me. I’m not sure why. I think I’m different than other girls. Like, my best friend Chelsea and I went to see Breaking Dawn Part II, and I thought it was the most boring movie of all time (except for the cool fake-out ending!), but Chelsea was all wiping tears away and being like, “He’s the best dad ever.” And I was like, “What? How is he being a dad? I think he’s just being hot.” But, the point is that Chelsea was really caught up in the emotional reality of Edward and Bella having a baby and being together, and it really touched her. And I was arching an eyebrow through the whole thing, thinking, “This is stupid. Life’s not like this.”

Maybe I’m just cynical. I’m not saying that sex can’t be earth-shattering. It can be. And I’m also not saying that the important things that happen sexually aren’t the emotional parts. Because they are.

I guess I must be part guy or something. I don’t know. Maybe I have excess testosterone, although I’m not very hairy, so… ? Whatever.

Other cool things about this book. Guy watching you sleep when you don’t know about it=creepy!! Thank you, Ms. Armentrout. Thank you.

Um, they go to Martinsburg!! If I had known, I would have come out to meet them, because that’s like twenty minutes from where I live. (Eee!) In Brighter, Freeburg is the equivalent of Martinsburg, so you can compare and contrast if you want.

Yeah, okay, the end. Read Opal. It’s awesome, and you won’t regret it. (Are you noticing a pattern here, wherein reviews of these books are less about the books and more about me? I think I must be very self-involved.)