Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Sociopath: Legacy by Lime Craven

2 Stars (rough average as this was extremely difficult to rate by the numbers)

*This review may contain some general spoilers but they are all things I wish I would have known going in, and I couldn’t write an honest review without mentioning them.*

They say writing is cathartic. I hope that’s true for book reviews. This one is meant to finally purge the book-hangover from my system.  I wish there was literary brain bleach to cleanse the images of the last third of the book from my mind. Prior to that I was jotting down glowing praise for a story that had five star potential written in its pages. So let’s go there first.

Sociopath: Legacy is the sequel to Sociopath.  You’ll need to read that one first as the sequel continues the story of media mogul, Aeron Lore, his cutting penchant, and his twisted courtship of Leo Reeves. This time though Aeron is not the big bad crazy. That distinction goes to…

Blood Honey 
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but real life is sorely lacking in ritualistic serial killers. Hands up—who’s bored of terrorists?”
Blood Honey is slicing girls of every age up and putting them on display, each with a distinct term of endearment smeared on their skin. Initially it provides an intriguing mystery to this erotic-romance thriller.  There were so many possibilities with this and for a long while it paced far from predictable. (Though perhaps the answer was always there in the title.) Usually predictable is a negative in books but here, I later realized, it might have been welcomed, allowing me jump ship before that brain bleach was needed.

But back to the positives, we learn more about the past as well as get more insight into Aeron and Leo’s current relationship. Despite the “drama” between them in book one, we find Leo back at Aeron’s side. Their relationship is the epitome of love-hate in a romance if there ever was one. It truly captures a couple with love but distrust, distain but attraction.  You’ll find plenty of “love-hate” banter among sparring couples in romance, but this is something totally different.  It’s dark and potentially deadly, yet the narrative always keeps it light…in the first half or more. (Man I wish I didn’t have to make that distinction). 
“‘There’s a fine f*cking line between love and hate, Leo. I like the line. We’ll be the line. Okay?’”
Aeron is a captivating narrator. He’s not someone you’d want to know in real life (that could be dangerous…or dicey) but he’s witty and intelligent as he, along with Leo this time, narrates their tale. Thought-provoking definitions start off each chapter once again. In the first book and most of this one, Lime Craven does a superb job taking readers into the world of a functioning sociopath. It’s not the crazy most people assume. Instead it’s a world of cunning, manipulative, and resourceful ways that invites danger. She is very talented with her writing style.

But then the book takes a turning point. It honestly felt like someone else took over writing. Aeron and Leo’s story has always had dark undertones, but both the first book and the first half of this one were always kept light by the witty narration. But the last third of this book takes a turn and not for the better. It becomes unabashedly dark and disturbing while at the same time the reveals and the unraveling of the plot become clichéd.  Blood Honey’s identity for one. (Darth Vadar’s voice still ringing loudly in my head).

Meanwhile, characters that were growing and evolving, becoming such fully developed characters that it felt like the two books were coming together into a perfect picture, begin to slip and become weak, victimized, and lost.  While the cutting obsession would have been a trigger warning for some readers since the first book, a few new ones need to go up for this one (detailed violence and rape)!  The book finally lost me on the later. It’s far too over-used as a degrading plot device for women in fiction that suppresses them and presents them as the weaker, helpless sex. My feminist hackles were raised that Leo’s character crashed just when she was starting to take off.

I was devastated at how the story from the climax through the end played out and struggled to finish it. This section would be a definite one star rating. On top of the gruesome violation that was sickening, the resolution of the story becomes a sinking mess in some Maldives island waters.  My head was swimming in questions of who some characters really were (existentially, not literally), backgrounds that needed more explanation, red herrings, and several plot points that felt dropped (including ones from the first book). Oh and there's a ghost (WTF?) 

The final ending is unsettling. It was ewww & unbelievable. I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be depressing or a twisted attempt at an HEA. (For the record, it was not an HEA in my book. For others, it might be up for interpretation.)

*Note: I had the wonderful opportunity to interview author Lime Craven and the characters of Aeron and Leo after the previous book.  You can read those interviews as well as my 4.5 star review of Sociopath: HERE.  Lime is a talented writer who obviously put a lot of time into her books. So I want to stress that I post this mixed review (at a delayed date due to the policy of the promotional company) out of my belief in the extreme importance of honest reviews. 

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