Release Date: 14 Sep 2011
Publisher: Barkley's Books
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Demons
Summary: After a fire destroys seventeen-year-old Julia’s home and kills her foster parents, she chases the half-demon responsible across the country and back, determined to avenge her family and discover why a host of celestial baddies want her dead. With Julia is enigmatic hottie - Cayne, who has his own score to settle with the half-demon, and who might be just as dangerous as the creature he and Julia hunt.
Buy It: Kindle eBook
Review: When I first read the summary for Stained I was surprised by how similar it sounded to the CW's Supernatural (demon kills the parents in a house fire, character goes looking for vengeance and kills lots of demons along the way etc). That said, Stained and Supernatural do have those bare bones in common but they're completely different.
He got out when she’d been tear-free for a few minutes and approached warily. “Feeling better?” he asked, in a low voice that carried a hint of some distant, not-Southern accent. She nodded quickly, blinking away more tears.
“Good.” Cayne nodded down at her, water rolling down his gorgeous chest. “’Cause I was thinking…”
I understand that Julia is a hormone driven teenage girl whose foster parents of several years just died but I got emotional whiplash in the beginning of Stained. One second Julia is bawling her eyes out and the next she's ogling Cayne's jade eyes, black vans and ...'statuesque' figure. I really liked Julia despite this though and she does settle down after a while. I found her power of healing to be interesting and her tragic past fit really well in this story. I wish the beginning hadn't been quite so bumpy with her but it wasn't anything that damaged her character or the book.
Other than Cayne's initial unwillingness to tell Julia anything about what was going on, which drove me up the wall but definitely tethered my interest because I needed to know what was happening, I loved his character. This is the first time I'd read about a character with the power of suggestion which was exciting for me. When the TV show Heroes was on I remember thinking how interesting it would be for a character to struggle with that power - whether it was morally right to use it, if they were evil how it'd be used etc. Stained didn't delve too much into it but I was still pleased to see something of that nature.
Cayne jerked as a bullet exploded out his back. Julia ducked as a second blast knocked him a step back. He didn’t let go of the gunman. Instead, his grip tightened, and the man’s neck snapped with a horrifying pop.
I wasn't entirely on board with Stained until the first real action scene occurred where Julia and Cayne are getting along and working together. James' action writing was superb. It was fast paced, perfectly staged so that I could picture exactly how things were happening etc. I'm glad that Julia reacted believably to the first few incidents but wasn't too dramatic about it. I hate it when characters, especially in YA, go from being regular people to action heroes as if it were nothing. Once things start getting explained (Cayne telling Julia about himself and more about what Samyaza is up to was revealed) the book was impossible to put down; it was just too exciting and addictive.
I was extremely unhappy with the ending of Stained. I can't even call it a cliffhanger, it was more like the book was left unfinished. I've said this more times than I'd like to but it applies here especially. I have no problem investing time and money into series; however, I'd like it to be out the series' own merit. I want the books to be so good that I need more. I don't want to buy the next book because the first one wasn't finished. Rating: 3½ Bites (Really enjoyed it -- Good)
What are your thoughts on cliffhanger endings or 'incomplete' books?
What is your favorite paranormal TV show? I'm a huge fan of Grimm right now.