Review: Lives of Magic

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Title: Lives of Magic [Seven Wanderers Trilogy #1]
Author: Lucy Leiderman
Release Date: January 4, 2014

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Gwen is settling into her new home in Oregon and looking forward to senior year when she is kidnapped by Kian, who warns her that she is in terrible danger. An ancient war was fought between magical Celtic warriors and three evil magicians. Those magicians are alive and well and need Gwen’s magic to regain their power. If they succeed, they’ll be unstoppable. To save the world, Gwen must unlock the magic trapped in her memories of a past life in Britannia.

As Gwen starts to recover her lost memories and awakens to her power, she suffers the consequences of a divided soul. Gwen and Kian travel to New York and then to England to find others of her kind. Gwen, Garrison, Seth, and Moira need each other to solve the puzzle of their last days in ancient Britannia. They are only as strong as what they remember, but a troublesome history threatens to doom the world. One way or another, a deadly showdown is inevitable, ready or not …

I am seriously conflicted when it comes to this book. As much as I loved the plot and (some of) the characters, I couldn’t bring myself to love the writing and a great part of the narration.

Let’s start with the writing. It wasn’t bad. The book itself was actually pretty good. However, I found that everything was dramatized for the narrator. She would blow everything out of proportion, make semi-relevant analogies, perform useless and stupid actions in times of distress, and rush into things. The beginning, especially, was rushed. Too much, actually, to the point that readers go through information overload. While I can understand the need to rush to the action and the magic parts, I wish that the beginning would have been slowed down a little, maybe a peek into her life before hand, or even just get us to see her relationship with her parents, as she misses them, but we know very little about them… like so little I don’t even remember if they had names…

At another point, the MC feels pity for her “kidnapper” and immediately states that it’s Stockholm Syndrome. This hit a nerve, maybe ’cause I just took a psych and law course, but she trivializes something that shouldn’t be trivialized. Stockholm syndrome is is basically when a victim feels pity or protective of their kidnapper, and it’s something that affects lives of many people who’ve been held captive for a long time and have been only found recently. I really don’t think it’s something that someone could develop in 5 minutes. And I’m not even sure if it took 5 minutes for the MC to diagnose herself with it. But it was something that really bothered me.

Some points also just seemed… cliché? Like when one of the characters say, “What if I told you that you are not actually who you think you are?” That’s such an atypical line and I feel like, with the rest of the book proceeding it and revealing everything just right, this part, the big secret kind of thing, could’ve been executed so much better.

[Note: all the bits I’ve just included are from the beginning of the novel, so don’t eat me alive for spoiling the book]

After the initial reveal of all that is magical, the book gets a lot better and the writing hits its prime and begins to smooth out, becoming more coherent and easier to understand. It was all, generally, less dramatic and BAM in your face. The dreams and memories really helped sort out of the current plot from the past one, and I thought that it worked really well in keeping the two worlds apart, yet slowly piecing them together, as well.

Now for the plot. I thought the concept was really interesting, with the magicians and the tribes, and all the memories and dream sequences weaving two separate stories that clash against each other and yet fall into place perfectly. Throughout the book, I was constantly surprised by the plot’s twists and turns, as well as the fact that some parts managed to get me really excited or afraid for the characters, whom I got really attached to, especially the guys. The pace of the novel was great too, save for the beginning. It would be a boatload of excitement, and then moments of rest and relatively mundane days, full of training and flashes to the past. Overall, the two different times were weaved together well, and the plot panned out really well and kept me guessing.

If you haven’t already noticed, the MC, Gwen, kind of really annoyed me. She was very… selfish. Everything revolved around her, and her problems always were blown out of proportion to the point where her indecision concerning love interests was a GIGANTIC problem and of course took precedence to other people’s issues and bigger issues that arose throughout the novel. While she may be powerful, she has to get over herself, and fast, because she really got on my nerves.

Aside from Gwen, I really liked the male characters, especially Garrison and Kian. I always love the happy-go-lucky comedic relief, which was, more often than not, Garrison’s character. He was really laid back and took things in stride, and I loved his bromance with Seth. Their friendship was fun and full of teasing and poking fun at each other and their character’s really made the book. Kian, on the other hand, I liked the fact that his character developed well throughout the novel, each action making me love him (and hate him) a little more. By the end of the book, I was totally rooting for Kian. These guys made the book worth the read, because their unique personality really added colour to the otherwise bland and boring world painted by Gwen.

In the end, the book wasn’t mind blowing. It didn’t shock me out of the water, nor did it make me want to hop around in anticipation for the sequel. However, the plot and (most of) the characters made the book fun and extremely riveting. Despite its faults, Lives of Magic kept me glued to its electronic pages, ready and waiting for the next surprise around the corner. Overall, a great book ~

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Writing: 3/5
World Building: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.82/5

eARC provided by Dundurn, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

All quotes and criticism taken from and based on the contents of the Lives of Magic ARC.

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