May 22, 2009

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Aislinn can see faeries. Like her grandmother and mother before her, she has been able to see them all her life. And these faeries and not nice, tiny, glittery creatures. No, these faeries are powerful and dangerous, and Aislinn knows that the last thing any mortal would want is to draw their attention. But when one of them speaks to her, Aislinn realizes that all the rules she so carefully followed are not enough to keep her safe. Now that Keenan has noticed her, it will take Aislinn all her willpower to keep her freedom, her life, and her best friend Seth.

Where to begin? Wicked Lovely has been getting a lot of attention, and I can see why. It’s fresh, it’s difficult to put down, it’s dark but not too dark, it’s full of very captivating characters. Wicked Lovely is set in a city and has a very modern feel, but at the same time Melissa Marr really kept the mood of old faerie folklore alive.

That mood was one of my favourite things about this book. Each chapter opens with a quote from a book on faerie lore, and it was exciting to see so many familiar names: Lady Gregory, Lady Wilde, Yeats, Robert Kirk and Andrew Lang, Evans-Wentz, and so on. Some of these I’ve read, others I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

As for the characters, as much as I liked Aislinn herself, I liked some of the secondary characters even better. Especially her grandmother, who raised her granddaughter not to see female sexuality as something shameful or grotesque. Oh, how I loved Aislinn’s grandmother. I wish there had been more scenes with her.

The scenes with Aislinn and Seth, for whom it's obvious from the start she has feelings, were very well written. The tension between them was nearly palpable, and Marr did a great job writing scenes that are both subtle and very erotically charged. The book is by no means explicit, but it portrays teen sexuality very realistically.

There’s a lot to this story – a lot of themes, and several secondary characters and subplots. What stood out the most for me was how the book deals with feeling entrapped, with being snared by other people’s decisions and wanting to do something about it; wanting to make your own decisions and choices and to take control. This is true of Aislinn, of Keenan, of Donia. My edition of the book has an interview with Melissa Marr at the end, and here’s how she answers the question “what is the message, if any, in Wicked Lovely?”
There are always choices. As long as we’re still breathing, we can keep making choices and keep striving for our objectives. The choices aren’t always ones we like, but I honestly believe that if we keep choosing, we can often get to where we need to be. If we stop choosing, we have no chance.
I like that a lot. Wicked Lovely has a satisfying ending, but there were some loose ends left to tie. As this is the first book in a series, that’s only to be expected. I hear that Ink Exchange focuses on different characters, but hopefully some of those lingering questions will be answered.

Reviewed at:
Medieval Bookworm
Bart’s Bookshelf
Gimme More Books
A High and Hidden Place
Melissa’s Bookshelf
Beth Fish Reads
Books & Other Thoughts
The Bibliophile and Movieholic’s Blog
The Book Zombie
Libri Touches
Stella Matutina
Mari Reads
A Striped Armchair
Once Upon a Bookshelf
Wands and Words
The Written World
Em’s Bookshelf
Literary Escapism
Books and Needlepoint
Ink and Paper
Life in the Thumb
Dreaming Out Loud
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Fyrefly's Book Blog
The Zen Leaf

(I’m sure I missed a ton – if yours is one of them, let me know and I’ll be happy to add it.)

53 comments:

  1. Your post is so timely, I just capitulated and ordered Ink Exchange today! I've been waiting to see what you thought of this. =)

    I too loved the message about choices. Aislinn really takes control and starts to make her own choices by the end of the book. I think that growth is something that Marr did beautifully and really is an important message, especially for teens.

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  2. Wonderful review, as always! I added a link to yours on mine, thank you for linking my review, as well!

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  3. Great review, thanks. I have heard so many good things about this book, I really must get round to reading it.

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  4. That cover is gorgeous. This sounds like a wonderful book. Ever since I met Jason, I've learned so much about faerie lore from around the world, so I think this is right up my alley.

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  5. Great review! I really loved Wicked Lovely, it's such a great book! Ink Exchange is awesome too, and so far so good for FRagile Eternity!

    I've linked to your review from mine, would you do the same, please?

    http://jo-scrawls.blogspot.com/2009/03/review-wicked-lovely-by-melissa-marr.html

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  6. Nice review Nymeth. I swear I'm the last person on book blogging earth to read this book. I've thought about picking it up many times though since everyone seems to like it. I'll probably end up bending under the pressure. lol. Glad you liked it.

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  7. Well I know what I'll be grabbing off of my shelves soon! Sorry, you don't get a point for this one :p I have it already, lol.

    I love that she put quotes about faerie lore before each chapter! And such cool sources too!

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  8. So happy that you enjoyed it and that the snippets in the beginning of each chapter helped to set a tone for the book. I loved it too!!! Here's my review link:

    http://lifeinthethumb.blogspot.com/2009/05/obsessed-with-ya-my-thoughts-on-many.html

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  9. Great review of a great book. It really is almost impossible to put down.

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  10. I loved this one!!! I loved Ink Exchange too, although Aislynn's barely in it. I'm on the library's waiting list for Fragile Eternity...I would just buy it, but I don't like hardcover books.

    I got my sister this for Christmas, and even though she's not a big reader, she stayed up late to finish it. :D

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  11. I was plesently surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.

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  12. Another wonderful sounding book to add to my groaning TBR...

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  13. I might have enjoyed this book more if Seth didn't constantly cradle Aislinn his arms in every scene they share. Hilariously, I loved everything in this book except the romance, which I found a little pedestrian. To be fair to the book, I spent my teen years gobbling up every romance novel my library offered, including those teen romance series (Love Stories, etc.) It's highly likely I'm burned out still. I wanted more fey politics than makeouts. XD

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  14. Great review - can't wait to read my copy.

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  15. Time to give in and just order this one. *sigh*

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  16. there's so many urban fantasies with fairies in it these days, it's almost overwhelming! I'd love to read them all, because I don't think I can get enough of fairies in fiction, but I hadn't thought of reading this before. Now I'll have to change my mind of course!!

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  17. I must look it out for this title.

    I see that you are currently reading Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter - it is one of my favourite books and I hope you're enjoying it.

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  18. I nominated you for a blog award!
    http://never-travelled.blogspot.com/2009/05/im-wiener.html

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  19. I saw you say somewhere that you had read this, but I am still really happy to hear that you did!

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  20. This is my current audiobook - I'm halfway through it and am really enjoying it, the narrator is very good. I love all the fairy lore too!

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  21. Love your review! I bought the book by Kirk and Lang because of Wicked Lovely... most of the loose ends will be dealt with in Fragile Eternity, I think, since Ink Exchange really doesn't have that much of Aislinn/Keenan/Seth. I can't wait to read it, but I'm still re-reading the Percy Jackson books (so that I could read The Last Olympian), and then I'll re-read Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange... will be sometime before I get to Fragile Eternity!

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  22. Btw, checked my blog and even though I didn't review Ink Exchange, I did write about Wicked Lovely apparently -
    http://marineko.blogspot.com/2007/09/wicked-lovely-by-melissa-marr.html

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  23. Doesn't that book have a pretty cover? I can't say that I've ready many books about fairies but I'd be up for giving something like this a try. Sounds like it could be fun!

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  24. The books get darker, especially Ink Exchange. It has a different focus, and won't answer many questions. And Fragile Eternity will just create more questions. It's definitely not the end of the series! And while I'm not crazy about the direction the characters are taking, I can't stop reading the books.

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  25. The world that Melissa Marr creates in her books is definitely what got me hooked. :)

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  26. Hi Ana, I've been hearing so many good things about this book. I love the cover too! It's in my wish list and I hope to get to it one day.

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  27. Great review. While I agree with several of your points, I did not like it as much as you. I did not like the ending even knowing that this was the first in the series. I am going to read the next book because I did like the characters enough to want to know more. Seth and the Grandma were my favorite characters.

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  28. Great review. Wickedly Lovely sounds like a terrific book!

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  29. Great, comprehensive review! I keep vacillating whether I should try to read it or not. I am not much of a fantasy fiction person, but everyone rants and raves about this one, perhaps I should try it.

    It is just because of this type of review, however, that I gave you the "splash" award today.

    I hope you have a great weekend!

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  30. Great review, Nymeth. This book and series certainly has been getting a lot of attention lately. It's on my wish list. And I do love the cover!

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  31. I usually don't read fantasy, but I've read so many great reviews of this one that I'd like to give it a try.

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  32. I'm glad you liked it. Unlike Renay, I love the sexual tension. ha!

    In any case, as everyone has said Ink Exchange is different but also a powerful book about choice. I really love that one, more than others I think.

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  33. I'd heard of this book but knew nothing about it. Now, thanks to your review, I do and will definitely keep an eye out for it.

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  34. Glad to hear you liked this one! The second one (Ink Exchange) is even better and I'm dying to read the third (Fragile Eternity)!!

    Oh and TokyoPop has a Marr manga too called Sanctuary :)

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  35. @Amy I liked some of it! I was just the arms and the cradling in that got to me. Surely sexual tension exists in other spheres of physical intimacy. R-right?

    In other words, I'm demanding and want a pony. >.>

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  36. @Renay..I get what you're saying I hadn't noticed, but I did notice in Fragile Eternity that Seth quirked an eyebrow every other page for about 4 chapters!

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  37. My sister just read this and promised to send me her copy - she loved it, and is over halfway through the sequel now.

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  38. Sounds like yet another one of your recommendations for my wish list :)

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  39. Meghan: I agree, she really did that very well. I'll probably cave myself and get Ink Exchange soon :P

    Melissa, thank you!

    Alxa, from what I know of your taste, I think you'll enjoy it!

    Amanda: The cover really is gorgeous. I love faerie lore. This book uses Irish sources only, but it's still very interesting.

    Jo, thank you for the link! I added you.

    Dar: lol, I thought *I* was the last one :P I hope you enjoy it!

    Chris: That's okay :P Even if you hadn't it would be difficult to isolate a culprit...so many people reviewed this book. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

    Staci: Thank you so much for your link! And yes, the passages she quoted really helped set the tone.

    Beth F: I thought so too!

    Eva: Gotta love a book that turns a non-reader into a reader :D And I'm the same with hardcovers.

    Bart: It exceeded my expectations too.

    Jeane: lol, mine is beginning to groan too :P

    Renay: I can see what you mean about the cradling specifically. But I really loved the tension. I actually haven't read all that much romance - sounds like I should pick up some Elizabeth Scott!

    Scrap Girl: Happy reading! :D

    Debi: I don't think you'll regret it!

    Valentina: I know there are a lot of them, but this is actually the first one I read dealing with fairies specifically. Maybe that's why it all felt so fresh to me. Actually, there's The Good Fairies of New York too, but Martin Millar is on a league of his own for me :P

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  40. Paperback Reader: I am loving it so far! I adore Carter's writing, so I have no idea why it took me so long to get to this one.

    Miss D: Thank you again :D

    Kailana: Probably on Twitter :P

    Joanna: I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it!

    Marineko: I hope they are! I wonder if the third book the last or if she will continue the series. Also, thank you for your link!

    Iliana: It really does. I love the colours, the composition, everything.

    Softdrink: *head explodes* More questions! And I guess that answers what I was asking Marineko. I like darker and I like open ends to an extent, but some answers from time to time are good too!

    Mari: Me too :) The world and the characters.

    Alice, I hope you enjoy it when you do!

    ibeeeg, thank you! I agree, the ending could have been more satisfying. Still, I enjoyed it too much to really mind that :P

    Marie: It is!

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  41. Molly, you're the sweetest! Thank you so much for the award :)

    tanabata: Isn't so pretty, isn't it? I hope you enjoy the book when you get to it.

    bermudaonion: Urban fantasy seems to be a good way of easing in readers who are new to fantasy. I hope you enjoy it when you pick it up!

    Amy: I'm really looking forward to reading Ink Exchange! Of course, now I'll be looking for mentions of Seth's eyebrows :P Thank you again for sending me this :D

    Cath, I think you'll enjoy it :)

    Joanne: I'm glad to hear it's even better! And I had no idea she'd written Manga. That's awesome.

    Carrie: The book is very hard to put down! I hope you enjoy it too :)

    Maree: You know you want to add it :P

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  42. I knew you would like this one!! I read it last month and loved it!! Amy just sent me a copy of Ink Exchange, and I really want to read it soon!!

    I'm with you. Some of the secondary characters were actually the ones I liked the best. Donia and Keenan, especially!

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  43. I need to move this book up after reading your review, Nymeth! I read a lot of good review on this book and I'm glad you enjoyed it too! :)

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  44. This sounds so good, i've seen it around the blog-o-sphere. I need to read it too.
    great review ;)

    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

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  45. I really need to pick up Ink Exchange and the final one. I just LOVED this book! Thanks for the link :)

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  46. Is there anything left to say? M really liked it... and I'll probably (cross my fingers; I'm WAY behind after vacation...) get around to it, too.

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  47. I read another review that praised this book, and although it's not something that I would normally read, I think that this series would be an interesting read for me. I am going to see if I can grab a copy of this. I have to say, you read some mighty interesting stuff. Great review!

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  48. Dear Author also did a great review of Wicked Lovely way back when it was first released and later reviewed Ink Exchange. I remember that both reviews (esp. the second)gave me a lot of food for thought.

    BTW, I think I enjoyed the third book of the series most so far, mainly because it is more direct in acknowledging some of the serious problems of the relationship/power dynamics that are going on. That, and more Seth and Niall. :) For the commenter who wanted less romance and more politics, book 3 may really appeal if you decide to stick w/ the series.

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  49. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, and I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on Ink Exchange. I'm just about to read the third one, which I've heard is a bit more introspective, so that should be interesting.

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  50. I'm reading this book right now actually. I'm really enjoying it so far!

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  51. Stephanie: So sorry that I forgot your link, eek! Added it now. Amy is so sweet :D She was the one who sent me this one!

    Melody: Oh, you will love it for sure :)

    Naida: Yep, you do!

    Ladytink: I need to pick them up myself! Sigh, I have too many series on the go.

    Melissa, I hope you enjoy it when you do!

    Zibilee: I hope you find it and enjoy it :)

    Tracy: Just read the Dear Author review - it does make some very good points, especially about the initial pacing and about Seth. Melissa Marr actually addresses that in the interview at the end of my edition. She says that part of the reason for his perception is that we always see him through Aisilin's eyes. But a few scenes from his side might have made the book even better, and it sounds like I'll get to see that in the rest of the series :)

    Darla: Oooh, introspective sounds good to me!

    Vanessa: Glad to hear it :D

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  52. Great review and a good contribution to the Bookworms Carnival! I need to hurry up and get to this book.

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  53. when i read the first book I liked it a bit and bought the other two (unfortunately). I didn't like them. What did I not like?

    1) The love between the boys and the girl is too artificial. I didn't feel or believe it.

    2) There isn't enough description for characters, places etc. so you can't attach yourself to the story truly. In my opinion a book should make you feel the place and feelings or whatever it tells.

    It's a cold story that has lots of holes in it.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.