Haven Moore can't control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother's house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was. In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.
I totally love the concept of past lives and reincarnation. I think that there is a lot of power in the idea that your true love can span centuries and will endure the test of time to find you again and again in an ever changing world. It is a romantic and engaging notion. Though a lot of YA books now have romances that last centuries, it is typically because there is a vampire that is super old and a young pretty teenage girl as his true love. In this case, both of the loves are relatively the same age and have both gone on living for a while so it is a lot more even playing field.
Plot: The plot was pretty interesting. I was almost flabbergasted by the abrupt twists that kept popping up. There was a lot of mystery to the book and just when I thought I had everything figured out, the rug was pulled out from under my feet and I was back to square one...again. I LOVED the ending. There is a final twist that breaks your heart and leaves you wanting more, but still satisfied. I think the ending saved the whole book for me, because without it I would have just been extremely frustrated.
Characters: If it is possible, Haven is both too trusting, too suspicious, too naïve, too passive, and too stubborn all rolled into one. Again, side note: I believe I will have to add Haven to my list of names that are too over used. So far the list contains Violet, Haven, and Ash...anyone else??? :P)Anyways, Haven was smart enough to get herself out of a tough situation in her hometown and then to get to New York City all on her own, but then my impression was that she just bumbled around, listening to someone and believing their story, then she bumbles into someone else and decides to trust in their story instead. It was baffling that she didn't seem to think for herself. She made foolish, idiotic decisions that no one in their right mind would make, and it drove me absolutely nuts! Also, her choices are unrealistic...who would go to New York City without a job, anywhere to stay, or much money to find someone you have never met? Then having met said stranger, who would then leave the country and go with random person to Rome after knowing them all of like...a day? Iain was cryptic in a way that was far too familiar of the romantic interests of the YA paranormal genre. Seriously. Can't the MC's just share their thoughts with each other? I guess there wouldn't be a book without a conflict, but this conflict is overdone and just bores me.
The southern atmosphere in which Haven grows up was enchanting and intriguing to me. I really like getting a glimpse into southern culture, because it is probably the most superstitious and religious place in the United States. The idiocy that people still believe that you can be possessed by a demon, and that if you have visions or are guy then you have a one way ticket to hell. The absurdity of these people is so much, that you doubt they can be realistic, but they are. I love to see the juxtaposition of religious values with the intense bigotry, hatred, and just plain meanness that seems so intrinsic in the south. Now all of you southerners don't get offended, but the Bible belt is where a good portion of the nations hate crimes take place, and I find that extremely fascinating. I love how the southern belles can say absolutely everything perfect, yet still have their words dripping with contempt. Haven's gay best friend Beau is to be admired in his refusal to be anything other than who he is, despite vicious mental and physical attacks on his well-being. But the best thing about Beau is that he isn't just the gay best friend. He has depth, meat, oomph,hut-spah...all that jazz...he has so much character that he tends to exist Haven at times. He is also so blasé and witty that I can't help but fall in love with him. I was glad that he ended up making an appearance later in the book as well.
Rating: I feel bad that I can't give this one a higher mark...It was good. Lyrical prose, with nice descriptions and characterization...but I couldn't stand Haven...when I don't like the MC I really can't rate the book very well. So I give a 6.5 out of 10. Cheers!
Similar books: The only book I can think of that is similar is Elixir by Hillary Duff. I REALLY enjoyed that version, despite it being written by an airy-fairy ex-Disney channel star. It too involves past lives and reincarnation, though there are only a few of them that actually are reincarnated, the others just live long LOOOONNNNGGGG lives.