Friday, October 9, 2015

Descended of Dragons: Rare Form - Book review & tour

Rare Form by Jen Crane
(Descended of Dragons, #1)
Publication date: 6 October, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rare Form by Jen Crane is the first instalment in the Descended of Dragons series. Narrated in the first person from redhead Stella Stonewall's perspective, the novel opens with Stella leaving college and unsure of what to do in her life, when she crashes her car in another and a lamppost.
From the first chapter we are introduced to Rowan Gresham, another main character, who tells Stella that he has been looking for her and that he has information about her father – a man Stella has never met and whom her mother would never speak of.

"It wasn't every day a girl learned of an alternate utopia with dwarfs and magic."
Shortly after, Gresham takes the protagonist to another world called Thayer, where everyone has an animal ancestry and form – except Stella.

In an attempt to prove to Stella that Thayer exists, Gresham brings a dwarf-like bearded man and hides him under the table at a restaurant. What bothered me about that part was that the focus was on the man not the fact that he magically disappeared. I felt that was a big of an anomaly in the narration or the character's focus.
Another thing that annoyed me in Rare Form was the use of "atop", which was used roughly ten times in the novel. It's not a big deal, but when a word keeps popping up like that – and there are synonyms – I, as a reader, get annoyed. Others may not.

In Thayer, Stella finally feels that she fits in, though she still wants to prove herself, especially after she learns that the students were betting that she wouldn't last a week there.
One of the themes or main ideas focused on in the novel was that the school, known as Redix, is a place for "adults"; therefore, they have coffee by day and bar by night. No monitoring of alcohol or sex; everything is left open.
"Coffee during the day and a full bar at night."
"Are you freaking kidding me? A dorm with a bar? Pinch me now."
"It isn't a dorm. It's a residence hall for adult students. We're all adults here."
However, as you read on a bit, several of Stella's actions and reactions seem to be unadult-like, especially in her infatuation with Gresham, which we later learn that he might be taken.

At first, Stella's narration annoyed me. It was repetitive and fairly shallow; although she describes fear and what happens when we panic and all the crazy ideas we get quite well.
Stella's character sees significant change during the course of the novel.
In Thayer, she feels she has a place, makes friends quickly and begins to delve deeper into her new world and lineage – even though her mother still shies away from the "Who is my father?" question.

Not one of the best – or prettiest - images in the novel, but still a creative one "My mind vomited questions." Generally, Rare Form is full of beautiful paragraphs and speeches rather than standalone imagery.

Although the main characters are Stella and Gresham, others like the jealous – and irritating – principle Livia Miles, who attempts to humiliate Stella throughout the novel and is constantly jealous of her.
Our and Stella's first encounter with Livia goes like this:
"Ugh, Rowan. She is an imbecile. Wherever did you find her, and what moron allowed her into this institution. If this is the caliber of student my department is expected to instruct, I…"
Other characters include Stella's mother, Timbra, who becomes Stella's best friends, Boone, the enigmatic Ewan and others.

Although Stella's main transformation comes towards the end of the novel, it is a significant one, where an adult and wiser Stella comes out.
The protagonist struggles to find her animal form and to control it. Gresham is her mentor and uses an unorthodox method to help her.
"You can't possibly know what it means to coax a throbbing chakra; to fan its banked fire until, white hot, energy bursts forth and burns forcibly through your veins. You can't imagine the rush you'll feel when the only physical form you've ever known explodes into a thousand pieces and leaves a monster in its wake. And the liberating part about changing is that you don't even care. You're free. You're… yourself… finally."

The novel also includes diary entries by Stella, which I felt were a sort of summary to the events, which were already narrated in the first person from Stella's point of view.
On another note, the novel is fairly quick-paced, especially since its starts with a car crash and quick shift from our world to Thayer in the early chapters.
Rare Form is not free of romance, in fact Stella is attracted to two people, though one more than the other, and there are several couples, some of which are having difficulty dating because of their animal forms, which is interesting in the turn of events.

As we go farther into the novel we learn that a powerful wizard had enslaved dragons long ago and had them do his bidding in an attempt to control Thayer. That wizard remains hidden with his whereabouts unknown. Although it has been years since anyone has seen the dragons, Stella soon comes face to face with several. It is then that the already quick-pace heightens and the reader is propelled towards the end of the book.

Although there were certain points I did not like about Rare Form, I must say, honestly, that I gobbled the novel in a few days, whenever time was made available (including a couple of minutes here and there at work).

Quick, enjoyable and it has dragons, three things that make a good book.

Note: I received a free copy of Rare Form by Jen Crane via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour.
Note II: This book is meant for an adult/mature audience. (18+)

Overall rating: 4 stars.

As part of the blog tour of Rare Form, there is a giveaway, open internationally, for a signed copy of Rare Form and a $15 Amazon Gift Card. Ends 15 October.

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Purchase Rare Form via Amazon and Barnes and Noble

About the Author:
Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, Jen Crane has been in love with fantasy and science fiction since seeing a bootleg tape of Quantum Leap in the 90’s. 
She has a master’s degree, and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. She’s been published in reputable newspapers and magazines.
One day, though, she said, “Life’s too real for nonfiction. I’m gonna write about love and magic.”
Jen is happily living out her dream in The South with her husband and three children, striking that delicate balance between inspiration and frustration.

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