Killing Me Slowly

A leopardess who learned how to dance. And read.
Haven - Kristi Cook Haven is...a strange book. It's one of those patchwork novels that (rather shamelessly) borrows from a number of other sources, and then tries to tweak them just enough so that, when someone calls it on it, it can point to those tweaks say "Nuh-uh, my book's not like that, because this part is different".

I certainly understand taking cues from other stories that you love - God knows my first foray into novel-writing was a painfully blatant rip of James Cameron's Dark Angel - have to do more than tweak a few things here and there, because when it gets down to it, the elements that it seems Kristi Cook borrowed here are still recognizable.

Probably the worst part is that Cook ties this all together with a plot held together with scotch tape and a protagonist whose attitude (towards the supernatural, at least) is almost archaic in this Twilight and Buffy-saturated world. This whole book feels about twenty years too late - in the early '90s, I imagine this would have been new and innovative and relatable. Now, it's almost unbelievably dated.

But let's start from the beginning, eh? Haven is the story of Violet McKenna, a sixteen-year-old girl with visions who, naturally, despises them and wishes she was a normal girl. To be fair, her visions have caused her a lot of emotional trauma, since they tend to only feature the people she loves getting hurt, and she has trouble getting said people to heed her warnings. It's a classic Cassandra complex, but I appreciate the emotional baggage Cook includes here, since a lot of the time our protagonists-with-powers don't really have very good reasons for despising them.

Anyway, as the story begins, Violet is still dealing with her guilt over "seeing" - but not being able to prevent - the death of her father. Her step-mother receives a job offer in New York, and Violet tags along, which is how she ends up at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters Winterhaven, an elite boarding school. She chooses it from a pile of private/boarding school brochures, because it just feels right (more on that later). Once there, she meets a brooding and handsome boy named Aidan who has this ~mysterious attraction effect~ on everyone, but doesn't give any of the other girls the time of day. Yet the moment that Violet walks in the room? IT'S LOVE.

The two are naturally drawn together by virtue of being the main characters, and they have that awkward courtship that always follows when one-half of the couple doesn't really want to participate...

Read more at You're Killing.Us.

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