Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beathless by V.J. Chambers - Review by Rissa

Jason races into Azazel's life--sweaty, tortured, and hunted by covert forces. Even though her football-player boyfriend doesn't like it, Azazel is drawn to Jason. He's so complicated. He gets in fistfights, but always wins them--efficiently and thoroughly. He reads Plato and argues with their AP teacher. But he's also quiet and serious, haunted by a past he won't talk about. Azazel feels obsessed. She can't let anything get in the way of finding out Jason's secrets, not even her boyfriend, her friends, or her parents. Most importantly, no matter how dangerous Jason claims it is for her to be near him, she can't let him leave.

As menace begins to surface from even the most trusted and familiar places, Azazel finds herself flung into a whirlwind of sinister motives and clandestine proceedings. Though Azazel evades each escalating danger, her feelings for Jason may prove to be the greatest danger of all.


I can honestly say I have never before experienced a story line of that like Breathless by V.J. Chambers. The book starts off innocently, introducing the main character Azazel as being a relatively normal teenage girl who just wants a normal teenage life. However, fate does not seem to be on her side. All of what she once believed to be true is thrown to the wayside when a mysterious boy races into her life and turns it upside down. On top of that, Azazel will find out that her parents, her boyfriend, her best friend, and her entire town are plotting a surprise for her 18th birthday that will change the course of her life, forever.


The cover is mysterious, with a deathly red haziness as a screen over an image of a hand clutching a necklace with a hellish, fire-pointed star pendant. In the beginning of the story the reader will find themselves questioning it's relevance, but fear not, all shall be explained. Consider it forshadowing.


The main character, Azazel (10 points to whoever can get that pronunciation correct on the first try) is a normal high school girl with questionable morals (read: somewhat slutty). I cannot say I warmed to her personality, especially because she spends the first chapter trying, quite literally, to get into her boyfriend's pants. When he refuses (for reasons that seem honorable), she turns into an insecure, rejected little girl. But, I digress. Azazel does have her positive aspects. She goes along with her parents warmhearted welcoming of foster boys into their home, as family. She immediately takes pity upon the mysterious Jason, when she finds him fleeing from some unknown evil.
Now, on to Jason. It's pretty difficult to be opposed to an attractive guy who is super smart, and able to argue theology with people twice his age, especially while knowing that he is being hunted down and in danger. At first I felt very confused by him. He was a mystery, but in an understated way. As the story progresses the reader will be surprised at how he steps up and takes on the lead role.
I was impressed with the huge and shocking turnaround that many of the characters went through in the course of the book. I cannot go into the more specific details without giving away a large part of the plot, but Toby, Lilith, and Azazel's parents go through such huge character revelations that the reader will find themselves going back and rereading to figuring exactly what just happened.


To say that they plot was not what I expected it to be would be the understatement of the year. As I will later explain, I was unpleasantly shocked by some of the plot twists that surface. Azazel is your stereotypical teenage girl who thinks she has a normal life. Then, a chance meeting changes and twists that normal life until it is entirely unrecognizable. In a massive struggle of good vs. evil, and light vs. dark, Azazel will have to put all of her faith in the mysterious Jason and rely on him when every other person in her life seems to be an actor in a plot to ensnare her in their twisted plans.


I was actually surprised by the ending of the story, because while it does sum up the plot, it also serves to leave the door open, and answer just enough questions that those remaining make the reader curious to know what is waiting in the future for Azazel and Jason.

Final Note:

As you may know, I tend to include this Final Note when I have something else to say about a book that does not fit in under any of the other categories. When I opened this book, I had no idea what to expect. At most I figured that it would be a typical, "high school girl meets mysterious boy and together they fight off the forces of darkness" read. In some respects, it was. However, it took that theme and went much farther. I had no way of knowing that it would involve a Satanic cult, and horrific rituals that made me sick to my stomach. The main character and her best friend seemed to be nothing more than stereotypical teens, to whom I could not relate. Perhaps this may appeal to some, but it was not my cup of tea. I feel that the summary was incredibly misleading, and that is my warning to my young adult readers; this book is much more than it seems. Read with discretion.

Thus, I give the book a grade of


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