As I was reading this book I was curiously divided on how I felt about it. One the one hand I was wildly in love with the premise. OTOH, I was not wildly in love with the protagonist. Even up to the very end of the book i was never sure if I wanted to seek out and read the follow up book.
So I decided to do a list of What worked and what didn't:
1) The premise. How frickin awesome was the idea behind the main paranormal element in this book? Nature is not our friend. It is a living, breathing, entity with emotions and needs and sometimes it just really likes to destroy things. Fire, earth, wind, rain -- all chaotic systems out to destroy humakind and to stave off that destruction there exists Weather wardens to keep stuff under control. The weather is still presented as a system that is based on physical processes and cause-effect cycles. But there is this extra filament added to it that makes it seem almost sentient. I was so stoked as I was reading this because it was just fascinating. Also it is just so nice to read a UF that doesn't include vampires and werewolves. I also love the inclusion of the Djinn. Not a mythological creature one reads about a lot of in Paranormal/UF.
2) The writing. Caine is undeniably talented and the writing is very strong. I especially love when Joanne (the main character) is musing on he nature of the elements. When Caine writes about the fire or the storms the words simply crackle and pop right off the page. She is really in her elementa (ha ha) when she's describing the "emotions" of the storm or the hunger of the fire. They are at turns malevolent, mindless, driven or even playful. The weather and other natural phenomena become another, fully realized character in the series. I also loved the flashbacks. That is where I think the tone of the book becomes almost that of a storyteller telling a good yarn. The flashback interludes is where the writing moves into a very natural groove. Which brings me to....
3) The structure. I was a little bit off stride when I began the book because she little drops you in media res
. Joanne is on the run and you have no idea really why or what happened. The present timeline with Joanne's escalatingly bad situation forms the framework of the narrative and is interspersed with flashbacks that form the meat of the story that fills in the framework. The present timeline had the effect of holding the suspense of the story. You keep reading because, well, what the frak is going on? But the flashbacks are incredibly interesting. They could serve to stop the story but they don't. I really enjoyed this structure. One other book pops into mind immediately, The Lies of Locke Lamora, that used this same structure very effectively as well.
4) The characters: The book is populated with very memorable characters, especially the supporting characters. I especially thought Lewis was very fascinating in his powerful elusiveness. I thought Bad Bob was just about the right amount of villain without being over the top. I loved Rahel's
bitchy sassiness. Pretty much everyone that Joanne came into contact with stood out in some way. Which brings me to...
What didn't work:
5)The (main) characters: I never warmed to Joanne. Ever. I think it has to do with the narration. As it typical of many Paranormal/UF book, it is first person narration. I do have to commend the author on staying in Joanne' head. I know in an effort to give the reader a visual of the character sometimes an author will find a way to have the character describe themselves in a way that simply doesn't happen in a person's own mind. For instance, I don't contemplate the color of my own eyes and the fall of my own hair in my mind. So a first person narrator shouldn't either. I actually liked that there were no long drawn out descriptions of Joanne. I actually didn't get a real sense of what she looked like until almost the very last page after Joanne connects Rahel's often used "snow white" in relation to Joanne. So yay. But still I was very disconnected with Joanne's voice. As I noted above the only time her voice really spoke to me was when she was either talking about the elements or when she went into storyteller mode in the flashbacks. But really she came off as a more a narrator of events than a full fleshed character to me. And some of that spilled over onto David who really should have resonated more with me. I did like his character but his persona was very elusive and very much bound up in Joanne's 'present' narration so I never truly connected with him either.
6) The romance. I love romance. But I wish she hadn't shoved it so quickly (almost brutally) into this story. This is a series and the romance could have developed over time. The romance element didn't have exist for what happens in the end to occur. The writing had strongly established a reason why both needed/wanted to protect and save the other. I who am a romance lover, actually didn't want
the romance here. Weird.
7) The trope. This is a minor niggle and is more my hang up than any real failing of the book. But when I first started reading it I almost closed the book to never pick it up again. Why? Because Joanne was a loner, bad-ass chick with a lot of raw power and snarky attitude. Sigh audibly. Been there, done that too many times. I think if I had bought the book back when it was published this wouldn't have been a problem. Back then the field wasn't over saturated with this type of character.
With all that I think the 'What works' far outweighed and more heavily influenced my enjoyment of the book that the 'what didn't work.' I do plan to read the next book because I love the idea of the series so much. And the ending was pretty darned cool.