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Monday, February 27, 2012

"Allegiance" by Cayla Kluver~A Legacy Trilogy Book 2 for YA's May Not Add Up

Published by:  Harlequin Teen
The Legacy Trilogy Book 2
Pages:  490
Genre:  YA Fiction/Fantasy
Released:  February 28, 2012

Book Cover Rating  :
First impression: "pretty girl in messy dress."  This is not the typical look of fantasy fiction covers: it has an actual picture on it.  The young man and the horse leave nothing to the fantasy/imagination which may take something away from the YA girl who likes to fantasize. This seems to be a romance novel. To me, the picture is contrived because it's an obvious contemporary picture. Looks more historical romance than fantasy, which the novel purports itself to be. The scroll-work around the picture adds a lot in terms of design, although we nearly lose the name of the book. Don't care for the "weedy" treeline. Really odd: is that a car in the background?   I'm left feeling slightly ill at ease about the whole thing.  Rating:  C-

AuthorCayla Kluver is eighteen years old, and lives with her family and her muse (Nina, her cat) in Wisconsin, where only the hardy survive. Legacy is her first novel.

The first edition of Legacy won first place in the 2008 Reader Views Literary Awards, and a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards for young adult fiction.

Kirkus Reviews
A teen romance that delivers a softer, more innocent love story than the publisher's well-known adult tomes. The second book in the Legacy Trilogy, this text quickly introduces the forbidden love between Hytanica's newly crowned Queen Alera and Narian of Cokyri, which took root in the previous volume. Two major factors complicate this teenage love affair: Alera is married to King Steldor, and Narian has been forced to serve the Overlord of Cokyri, Hytanica's enemy. This background sets the stage for Alera's struggle with her role as queen and wife, which includes her lack of affection for her appointed husband and distaste for how women are unfairly treated, especially with regard to domestic violence. Alera's attitudes may make sense to the modern reader, but they sharply contrast with the narrative's medieval tone. Readers would benefit from reading series opener  Legacy (2011) to understand the history of these two warring nations, Alera and Narian's relationship and the mystical powers of Cokyri's evil Overlord. Without this, many of the characters and their relationships to Alera blend easily and feel ill-formed. A formulaic, quick (if hefty) romance that creates believable suspense as Alera determines whether her allegiance is to her lover or kingdom. 

The Dame's Review:

I was impressed to find that Ms Kluver's first book "Legacy" won such recognition.  This 2nd book in her series seems to fall short of that sort of award-winning, I think.  Such is often the way of 2nd and 3rd books in a series.  And this is a publishing world in which authors are encouraged to produce a series when one fine book might suffice.

This is a book for older young adults in that it has a more complex storyline about male-female relationships.  While it is about young people in their late teens and early 20's, they actually behave like much older adults, which is disconcerting to the reader who expected less implied sexuality. 

 I felt as if I were reading a sort of historical romance novel couched in a fantasy wrapper or vice versa, as well. Ordinarily I can adjust to his senario.  However, in this case, it was difficult to keep my concentration focused on the "other worldliness,"  though I did like the characters very much.  I simply felt the author was trying too hard to straddle both worlds without being clear which one she was in! I attribute this to her being a young author who doesn't have the experience necessary to focus one way or another.  All in all, it made for a novel that was a bit wonkey. 

The characters are interesting, the premise is good, and YAs will like the beautiful figures described.  That may make you wonder why I would question anything at all...but you'd  have to read the mismatch or believe me to understand what I mean. 

Here's a twist:  What appealed to me, but was actually out of place as well, was the young Alera standing up for herself against all the powerful men of the Kingdom.  A daunting idea in the apparent "age" and time she found herself, and with the particularly violent and explosive temper of a husband who was King.  I liked her spunk, but soon after she'd shown her strength a few times, I got bored with it, and kept wondering when she was going to loosen up a little!  As women, we have to find a happy medium, and balance that with the understanding creatures we are, as well as keeping our individuality.  Anger and violence from either gender is abhorrent, after all.  Why should a woman get away with what a man shouldn't?

Without beating a dead horse, I just need to say that this book is a mixed bag.  There are some good moments if you're interested in a historical romance...but if you want a well-developed fantasy novel, this isn't it.  Since I didn't read the first book in this series, I didn't have all the background on Alera, the young woman Queen, and her sweetheart Narian, a great warrior from an opposing clan.  But, that story is soon picked up in the reading of "Allegiance."  You won't miss much if you don't read the first book.   Alera's "allegiance" to her country is in contrast to her love for Narian...thus, the proverbial battle of love and war.

I cannot recommend this novel without reservation to my readers and friends.  It's a novel with a good premise that wasn't given a clear follow-through, written by a novice writer with promise, I think. I have to say readers beware...at best a light reading distraction that may fail to please..

2 1/2 stars



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