Monday, September 9, 2013

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Synopsis: Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancĂ©, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home, and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

My Thoughts: Last night as I was reading I was totally stoked as to how much I was really getting into this book. I even spent 20 minutes trying to figure out who amongst my Shelfari friends recommended it to me and in which group so I could comment on how much I was enjoying it. (which I did thank her for the recommendation by the way.) AND THEN......right around the 400 page mark it went to Hell in a conspiracy theorist's hand-basket. Say WHAT????

What Didn't work: Right around the 400 page mark we were all of a sudden introduced to men in black secret CIA stuff and an acronym that didn't mean anything along with double secret probation or something along those lines. I got so annoyed that I stayed up until 3am to finish the thing so it wouldn't mock me today.

Ok, lets talk acronyms or in this case a code word that is unpronounceable and looks like an acronym. MKULTRA. Yes there really is something called Project MKULTRA. Armstrong didn't make it up. Just in case you feel the need to look it up here you go. So, it's a code word that according to Armstrong doesn't mean anything. So, this meaningless word was used so often in the last 200 pages that I had to either skip the annoying word or call it McUltra which sounds like a calorie and fat laden new mega mega sandwich from McDonalds. So be it. I'll take a McUltra and a Coke please. Ok I just can't let it go without saying that I would just like, no...I NEED to voice my concerns that one cannot have either an acronym or a code word without appointing some logic and/or meaning behind it. There I said it. I'm sure the US Government will take this into consideration.

In addition to this, the mystery aspect was only partially tied up. We still don't know if the Larsens killed the  couples they were convicted of. We don't know what is up with the town of Cainsville. We don't know if the secondary characters are even human or if the cat is really a cat. Pretty much we don't know anything and after reading a hardback book that was almost 500 pages I would expect some closure.

One more thing that goes in the minus column is the paranormal aspect of the book. Had there not been one obvious instance of paranormal super healing of a very minor character who was only in the book for a couple pages the entire book would have only hinted at the paranormal. As it stands the book seems to have an identity crisis regarding it. The main character constantly dismisses the possibility of the paranormal through the entire book to only, kind of, accept that, maybe, she can see omens at the very very end. As a reader of paranormal fiction I think the book should have just jumped into the woo-woo pool cannonball style and stopped with the hinting.

What Worked: As Olivia and her kind of partner, Gabriel, looked into the deaths of the 4th couple the Larsens were convicted of killing I was sucked into the research and interviews of their investigation. It was very hard to determine who was telling the truth, who was lying and who was using who.

The characters were also a plus. The town folk were interesting and the main characters, Olivia and Gabriel, were multifaceted. Neither one was completely likable but every once in awhile we saw an action that redeemed them a little bit making them worth reading about.

Also the Omens, Superstitions and Portents mixed in with Celtic lore was refreshing.

In a Nutshell: Such an interesting book until the terrible CIA plot twist. This almost ruined the book for me but I persevered and at the end I decided it wasn't a horrible waste of my time. I'm not sure I'll pick up a second book in the Cainsville series unless I'm guaranteed no weird conspiracy theories are involved. If the next book even has the non-acronym acronym MKULTRA in it I will not read it.

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