"Ashlyn Woods has just transferred to one of the most beautiful campuses on the west coast, where she can't wait to start her life over as a normal college student. But her plans take an unexpected turn when she discovers that she is a Soterian: a person who develops special powers when the balance of good and evil shifts too far in evil's favor.
Soon she and the other Soterians are studying martial arts and learning to use their powers to prevent California from being plunged into chaos. But they quickly discover that they're up against a much more dangerous enemy than they anticipated.
And when Ashlyn meets Kai, a devastatingly gorgeous guitar player, she realizes she must sacrifice more than she ever imagined."
I got Rising Shadow as part of a tour, and was really excited to read it. It had an interesting premise—people gaining powers when the balance of good and evil shifted too much in evil's favor, and losing them when things were balanced out again—but the plot wasn't quite up to par with it, and the characters seemed a bit unrealistic at times. There was also a heavy-handed lesson—don't drink (which, seriously, is a sad lesson to have to teach when the demographic you're aiming at is under 21)—that I think could have been left out/more subtle.
I had a really hard time getting into this book. The pace was, for me, incredibly slow. It started out with the end of the book, then skipped to four months earlier. So, in a way, it started out at a run, tripped, took its time getting up, moseyed along until nearly the end, at which point it started jogging, then slowed down to a walk.
I had a hard time liking Ashlyn. She had serious self esteem issues that got old and annoying early on in the book. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's someone that says they're not good enough for their boyfriend/girlfriend. Not only that, but when Ashlyn and Kai were together, they were nauseating, and they were just as bad apart, but in a different way. I can't recall ever rolling my eyes at a book before, but many an eye was rolled while I read this, for a number of reasons.
Other than making me slightly ill (I'm talking multiple occasions of them saying "I love you more than life itself" or something to that effect), I felt like their relationship was a little rushed.
I was kind of annoyed when another group of Soterians was brought in out of nowhere, about halfway through the book. Even more so when, in the beginning of the last quarter of the book, Ashlyn got the powers of all the Soterians. There was only a teensy bit of lead up and hinting about this. I think the Alchemist thing could have been mentioned earlier on, it came across as an afterthought.
The twist at the end might have come a little late to be resolved like it was. I feel like, even though the book seemed too long to me, it could have used another chapter between discovering the big twist and the big twist being wrapped up.
The writing was good, very descriptive. I'm a big fan of descriptive writing, and this book had plenty of it. Wheeler did an excellent job of painting a vivid picture, making each scene clearly visible to the reader.
So, all in all, it just wasn't my kind of book. Had I read it at another time, without the pressure of a deadline, I might have enjoyed it more. The premise was interesting, the writing excellent, but the plot and characters fell a little flat. As for whether you should read it, I'll leave that up to you.
I give Rising Shadow 2 1/2 out of 5 Roller Skates.