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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unnatural by Michael Griffo

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized2 Comments

Publisher: Kensington

Source: From author
Publication Date: 01 Mar 2011
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 0758253389
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Pages: 480
Place(s) Traveled to: Weeping Water, Nebraska // Eden, England
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
First Line: Outside, the earth was wet. (from Prologue)
Related Posts: Character interview with Cieran 

Archangel Academy  Series Order
Book 1 – Unnatural
Book 2 – Unafraid (30 Aug 2011)
Book 3 – Unwelcome (2012)

Lately the bookshelves have been flooded with paranormal reads and I have to admit that I’ve overdosed a bit on books dealing with vampires. When I first head about Michael Griffo’s Unnatural my first thought was “ugh, not another vampire book.” But Unnatural isn’t just another vampire book and its that unique twist that made me give this one a chance. The twist is that the love story (because really what is a vampire book without a love story these days?) is between two guys. There aren’t a ton of gay characters in books today and when you do find them they are usually just in supporting roles. So it was refreshing to see that the main character was the one who was gay. 
Unnatural is a debut young adult from Michael Griffo and as such its not without its flaws and its these that prevent me from fully enjoying the story. The biggest issue that I had was the head-jumping. Every time there was more than one character on a page (no matter how minor) then it was guaranteed that you’d be forced into their head at least once…and sometimes even in the same paragraph as another character. It got to be very dizzying and there where times when I lost track of whose head I was in. The head-jumping just got worse and worse throughout the book as more and more characters were introduced. I love books that have multiple points of view but I prefer them when they are more clearly defined and structured…and not done one a whim as a way to cheat at narration.
The mythology of the world was a bit rocky and I’m not sure that I fully understood it but then all that head-jumping (not to mention my 18 month old niece) was a distraction. The writing could also use some work as scene transitions were a bit choppy and some of the dialogue was overly cheezy. But I am hoping that with future books that this will smooth out as the author bio does proclaim the author as an award-winning playwright. Overall I liked all of the characters and approved of the multi-ethnic cast although I wish that some more details into background or motivation would have been given. Although I am sure some of those details will come out in future books. 
I would also like to see how these new water vampires are born because from what I understand Ronan was born of a vampire mother, lived a normal life as a human and then he was changed at some point when he was 16 or so. But how? And why changed so young….also why is his half-brother, CIeran, still human. There are also some other questions that I hope will get answered as the series progresses. 
Unnatural is also another book that falls into the whole insta-love trap….but oddly in this case I didn’t mind it so much. I know, I know just the other day I was ranting about insta-love in books but I can’t really explain it. I think that the fact that this book was a gay love story line helped to set this one apart. And even though when Michael and Ronan meet they instantly fall for each other their relationship isn’t without hurdles. So there is time spent on relationship growth and in getting to know the other person. There isn’t a blind acceptance of flaws and there aren’t deep dark secrets kept with promises that all will be reveled if one person just trusts and doesn’t question the other. Ok, so there is one pretty big secret that Ronan keeps from Michael but there are consequences for it. I like that there are consequences as consequences are part of reality. 
In the end, Unnatual, wasn’t a perfect book but it had its moments of entertainment. I hope that future books will explore the motivations of some characters like Briana and Ronan’s mother. While this isn’t a book that I would have rushed to read if I didn’t receive it for review I am curious about where the story of Michael and Ronan will be going. This isn’t a book that I can strongly endorse but it is one that I would recommend to those interested in more GLBT reads. As the relationship between Ronan and Michael is beautifully done even if it is a bit soap operay at times. I think that it is those two characters that will bring me back for book 2. Though next time I’ll keep a pillow handy as I bang my head on the desk from all the head jumping….for if there is something worse than insta-love its rampant uncontrolled head-jumping.

2 Responses to “Unnatural by Michael Griffo”

  1. Lauren M

    I had initially dismissed this one because of its typical-sounding storyline (other than the gay protagonist), but now it actually sounds like it might be worth reading! I’m no fan of head-jumping, but other than that it seems enjoyable. Thanks for the review! 🙂

  2. Pam

    This actually looks perfect for me and I came to the review due to the cover. I still love vampire fiction.