Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: A Hunger Like No Other

Note: This book is *not* YA.

When Darkfallen & Greta from Paranormal Wastelands came here to I Write, I Read, I Review last November as guests for Saturday Spotlight (really need to get back to that, but that's another subject...) one of the books that they talked about was Kresley Cole's A Hunger Lke No Other. I went to their blog and looked at their review for it while putting the post together. I laughed. A lot.

I've been interested in checking the book out since. That was back in November, though. Why did I wait until February? Well, some of you might know that my birthday was on Thursday and I turned 30. It's been a while since I sat down with an adult paranormal and considering that I was feeling a little glum about starting a new decade I figured perhaps it would be a good idea to read something that was about characters a little further along in life then what I normally do.

But enough babbling about how I found the book and me questioning whether turning 30 and reading YA makes me feel a little "old" -- (I don't think it's a serious issue; I think I simply wanted a change in pace) -- that's not why you're here. Did I enjoy A Hunger Like No Other? Read on and find out.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
A mythic warrior who'll stop at nothing to possess her . . .

After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy . . .

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents -- until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae -- and their notorious dark desires -- ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all-consuming desire . . .

Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

The first thing that I immediately recognized as I started turning the pages here is that this book gives a much larger focus to the romance then the majority of the stuff that I read now. Even books that do tend to have romance in a starring role in YA tend to rely heavily on other plotlines and issues to balance things out. It's not that there was nothing else to A Hunger Like No Other. But there was no denying why the reader was here and the book wasted no time in getting things set up straight out the door. 

I liked this and found it refreshing. 

Don't let it fool you into thinking that's all there is here, though. Kresley Cole does a fantastic job of blending various supernatural beings together into one overall collective called the Lore, creating her own mythos and rules for each so that they take on a fresh new light and creating issues that will allow them to interact in interesting ways, both with regard to romance and with regard to dealing with each other. Mistrust to outright hatred of other species is one of the things that has been carefully etched into the world building, is a huge theme within this book, and is something that I would wager is going to rear its ugly head time and again as the series continues. 

Another thing that I really liked about A Hunger Like No Other is the contrast between ancient traditions, rules and ideals and trying to survive in the modern world. Watching Lachlain learn to adapt to the times after being imprisoned for 150 years was pretty amusing and allowed for some very interesting situations. And Emma's need and enjoyment of modern things made her relatable to me. I especially liked her reliance on her iPod to escape situations that she found aggravating. 

The Characters: 

I liked the contrast between Lachlain and Emma. I feel strongly that the book would not been nearly as good without it. 

Emma is a 70 year old vampire / valkyrie "half breed". She has been raised by her Valkyrie aunts her entire life, since her mother died when she was very young and she never knew her father (or even who he was). She's seeking that when we find her. I've read some reviews where people have complained that Emma is too weak. But honestly, that is the point. Emma's growth in A Hunger Like No Other is to go from being someone who is naturally timid and kind and gentle to finding a way to gain strength and achieve respect without losing the good parts of her initial characterization. Plus she cries pink tears. How neat is that? I'm not one to enjoy a character's misery, but I'll give credit for originality where it's due. I've heard of blood tears before, but pink tears? Really? 

Lachlain has spent the last 150 years being tortured by vampires. He cuts off his own leg in order to escape when he scents Emma, only to discover that she, the one his instinct is claiming is his mate, is a vampire. Needless to say, Lachlain is not thrilled. If Emma's growth is to become strong, Lachlain's is to learn tolerance, to make some semblance of peace with his past and to realize that people are individuals -- one's species does not instantly or immediately decide how a person will behave, what they think or feel. I think Kresley Cole did a fantastic job here, especially as the fact that Emma is a vampire (rather then realizing she is half vampire) is all that he sees at first. With his history and the things he has endured, it is a miracle that he does not kill her. 

I loved and hated Emma's aunts. As individual characters whom I hope get their own stories I thought each was unique and interesting enough to warrant it. As a collective force trying to control Emma's life, they annoyed me -- quite possibly because I see my own family there so strongly. Like Lachlain they had their own prejudices and ideas that made them less then ideal. This was good because it showed the reader that is not an isolated trait that is "his" but rather a way in which the world these characters live in works. If anything Emma is the unique one in this regard. Anyway, I also loved the irony that in many ways it is their actions that were responsible for Emma's "weakness", the very weakness they were trying to get rid of. This all seems to have been very well thought out.

The Romance: 

Let's get right to why I have that note at the top of my review for this book. Here there be sex. Lots of extremely hot, makes you want your own Lykae to show up and claim you as his mate, extremely well written and plot / character developing sex. Yes. You read that last part properly. The intimacy, as a whole, was in no way wasted in A Hunger Like No Other. (Note: I recognize that 'sex' and 'intimacy' are not the same thing -- to make it clear, this book succeeds on both levels.) 

I've read reviews of people who feel that books like these encourage sexual abuse. *shakes head* This, to me, takes the core of the story out of context. Humans do not view the whole mating thing, nor behave in the same way regarding it, that the Lykae do. It's really that simple. It's a question of suspension of disbelief, and if you tell me you couldn't do that I've got no qualms with ya. But saying an author is advocating abuse here? I'm going to have to disagree with you there.

We know how Lachlain is feeling, just as well as what Emma is, throughout the entire story. Are there times he does stuff that is totally out of line? Absolutely! At first I would wager that while one half of his brain is going "Hey genius, here's your mate!" the other half looks at her and all it can think of is excruciating burning agony because it was vampires that tortured him, and initially when he sees Emma that is *all* he sees. Kresley does a great job at showing this, because for the first chunk of the book he does not actually *think* of her as Emma, but rather as vampire. 

Emma is terrified of him in the beginning. And who can blame her? I'd be freaking out too if someone kidnapped me and told me I was going to drive them to Scotland! (Especially since I can't drive, but that's beside the point...) The first section of the book is pretty rough. But c'mon, that's pretty much what you're signing up for with a plot like this. It's moot, a given. The real question as far as whether the romance is good ends up being "Can the author convince me that these two WANT to be together by the end?" For me, the answer here was...

Yes! For me this is the makes it or breaks it aspect of a romance novel and this is an area where I feel A Hunger Like No Other excelled. All while we are watching Emma become stronger and more independent, we are also watching Lachlain struggle with the situation fate has put him in. And as he accepts that it is really happening, as he realizes what he has done to his mate, the man's remorse coats the pages. Yes, he *needs* her. But as the book moves along simple possession is not going to be good enough. He wants to love and be loved in return. He becomes focused on trying to make Emma happy. 

And sometimes Emma pretty much wants to tell him to shove it. And I thought this was good. Because if she had given in too easily after all that had happened, if she pulled a complete 180 on me, I wouldn't have been able to buy it. Is there a fairly clear turning point? Yes. It ties in with the mythology Kresley created very well and within the context of the story it makes total sense. But even after this point, both characters must take action in order to ensure what they could have is what they will have. Sorry if I am confusing you! Just trust me, the flow of the romance is completely dead on and this will definitely be a book I'll be looking at as a writer while trying to work on my own stories because (at least to me) it made this aspect of romance writing -- which I feel is absolutely crucial -- finally make sense to me.

In General: 

I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful new obsession. You have no idea how tempted I am to click three buttons and get the next book on my kindle. (My brain is currently screaming: Now!) But I know better then that. I read as I go, and this book / it's review isn't going to be for everyone, so that wouldn't be fair. What I will say is that it has made a strong case for the idea that "Man cannot live on (insert item here) alone." I loved and enjoyed paranormal romance long before I got into YA and there's no logical reason I shouldn't be reading both.

Even comparing a YA paranormal to an adult paranormal, they both cover different concepts and themes that I'm interested in exploring, both as a reader and a writer. (And for the record, this goes beyond being about sexuality. Sex, all by itself and with no reason, is boring to me. That's actually how I lost interest in adult paranormal in the first place. It has to be enhancing something -- plot issues that have already been started, character development or growth, a theme of the book, etc.) 

So, do I think A Hunger Like No Other is worth your time? Absolutely! I really loved this book and I thought that it was very interesting, well thought out and well written. If you were curious about it before my review (or became curious from reading my review) and still want to check it out now? Run, don't walk, and grab a copy of this. It's absolutely brilliant and I'm honestly shocked it took me this long to read it. 


  1. I couldn't agree more with what you've said. This is exactly how I feel about this book. I'm glad you liked it. Great review!

  2. Squeeeeee!!!! Yes yes hop on the Kresley Cole band wagon! I'm so glad you liked. This series is awesome. Just wait until you meet Bowen in Wicked Deeds on a Winters Night and Malkom in Demon From The Dark. *swoon*

  3. I love Kresley Cole, I stumbled upon one her her books not so long ago, and I have been hooked ever since.
    I think I like the humor she portrays the most. I have yet to read one her books I can't put down.

    Irene Jennings (Condo Las Vegas)

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