Thursday, 17 July 2014

Review: Immortal City by Scott Speer

Immortal City by Scott Speer book cover

Title: Immortal City
Author: Scott Speer
Series: Immortal City, #1
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Setting: Los Angeles, CA
Pages: 406

Add to Goodreads

Jackson Godspeed is the hottest young Angel in a city filled with them. He's days away from becoming a full Guardian, and people around the world are already competing for the chance to be watched over by him. Everyone's obsessed with the Angels and the lucky people they protect - everyone except for Madison Montgomery.

Maddy's the one girl in Angel City who doesn't breathlessly follow the Angels on TV and gossip blogs. When she meets Jackson, she doesn't recognize him. But Jackson is instantly captivated by her, and against all odds the two fall in love.

Maddy is swiftly caught up in Jackson's scene, a world of glamour, paparazzi - and murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels' wings for the police to find on the Walk of Fame. Even the Guardians are powerless to protect themselves in the face of this threat … and this time it's up to Maddy to save Jackson.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Immortal City has left me very indecisive (this seems to be the story of my life lately!): on one hand I really like the idea behind it, but on the other, I can obsess over lots of things that bothered me. The best way to describe the story is to take a dose of True Blood, but nix the vampires and replace them with angels. Move the setting to LA, and have every human obsess over the angels who are essentially the celebrities of the Immortal City world. Add a pinch of mystery, mix all of this with back-to-back episodes of The Hills, TMZ and E! and every celebrity cliché you can think of, and you'll have a pretty good idea what the book is about!

Immortal City is very visual. I felt like I was reading a movie, if that makes sense. All the imagery is crystal clear yet balanced, without falling into overly descriptive territory. Speer’s background as a movie director really shines through, and while I thought it worked out pretty well, it took quite a bit of getting used to. The big picture is easily focused on, but the little things and emotional impact suffered as a result.

Maddy Montgomery and Jackson Godspeed are our two main characters, and for most of the book I quite liked them both. Maddy is human, and living with her uncle since her parents died. He owns and runs a diner, and Maddy helps out serving the tables both before and after school. Jackson is an angel at the top of the celebrity food chain, and he seeks refuge in the diner to escape the cops who are trailing him one evening, thus providing the perfect opportunity for our two characters to meet. Maddy knows what it’s like to struggle through life, and she’s not easily captivated by Jacks lifestyle or celebrity angel status. Jacks on the other hand, is used to people saying yes to everything he asks for, and this inevitably is one of the main issues that constantly crops up. And I really do mean constantly.

I liked both characters when I was reading the book, but the more time passes since I’ve finished, the more neutral I’m getting. Neither of them left any lasting impression on me, and I’m not sure if this is solely down to the narrative style, or they weren’t unique enough, or if it’s the frequency of POV switches. The story’s told in the third person, and sometimes I do struggle to fully connect with characters when this narrative is chosen.

Also, we have a third POV to contend with in Immortal City: Detective Sylvester. This was one of those points I could obsess over. Even now, I have no idea why his POV was needed. The only reason I can come up with is to info dump background information on both characters and how the world is governed by the angels. His voice didn’t blend into the story seamlessly, and I tried very hard not to skim over any of the sections where he was involved. I just didn’t care, and for me, it detracted from the flow of the plot.

There is a mystery arc, and I really liked the concept, but I don’t feel it delivered fully on its potential. I felt it was a bit too tame and didn’t manage to overshadow the celebrity culture enough. At times I didn’t buy into the threat posed to the characters. I think the materialistic side was explored a bit too much: at times I felt like I was drowning in brand names! Granted, this helped cement the celebrity lifestyle and all the privileges that go along with it, but for me, the cost was losing focus on the mystery elements.

Up to around page 300, Immortal City was destined for quite a high rating. Unfortunately, I thought the ending spoiled things. It felt like the last 150 pages of the book was the actual ending, and it was so dragged out that by the time the book was almost over, I was at drama overload and struggling not to lose interest. It’s such a shame, as this is the last impression I’m left with, and it sort of tainted my overall feelings about the book. I’m not sure if Immortal City will be for everyone. If you take a chance on it, I hope you love it, but my best advice is to keep expectations in check and it could turn out to be a good read.

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