Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout

I can't believe I hadn't posted this. So for Jepad who wanted to know what I thought of it - here's the review. :)

The Turning tells the story of Dr. Carrie Ames who is turned into a vampire following a vicious attack in the hospital morgue. As a vampire she now has the choice of following her evil vampiric sire Cyrus, or joining the Voluntary Vampire Extinction Movement. Nathan, a VVEM sanctioned executioner attempts to help her make a decision regarding her new life. But she only has a short time before the VVEM will add her to their hitlist.

This is perhaps one of the more realistic takes on vampirism I have read. It's gory, upsetting and violent. And whilst it's probably not for those readers who prefer a more romantic story I found it a refreshing change to some of the defanged heroes around at the moment. From the horrific scene where Carrie is attacked, to the brutality she witnesses at Cyrus's mansion. It's a good job there are some lighter moments to balance the darkness. Indeed for a short while we have an endearing dysfunctional vampire family.

The problem I think Jennifer Armintrout has is convincing the reader that Carrie is equally drawn to both Cyrus (her sire) and Nathan (her rescuer). It's easy to accept she is attracted to Nathan - who wouldn't be. Cyrus is more problematic - given all that he is and does - and I don't think JA quite pulls it off. This is where I think The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein works slightly better, though it's not really fair to compare the two as they are telling different stories. But in The Becoming you can see why the heroine would fall for a vampire, only realising he's a sociopath when it's too late. In The Turning we see the callous disregard Cyrus has for human life and it's harder to understand why Carrie doesn't walk away, or do something.

Cyrus's magnetism almost has to be experienced rather than read about, and I didn't get far enough into Carrie's head to share it with her. In the end I just had to accept that the instinctive, animalistic pull towards Cyrus enhanced by the blood tie is as compelling as the pull towards Nathan.

As someone who is plunged into a world they don't understand Carrie inevitably makes mistakes - some with higher consequences than others. She is an independent heroine, determined to see shades of grey in a world where she is told there is only black and white.

Possession (Book 2) is available now.
Ashes to Ashes (Book 3) is released August 2007


jepad said...



I think that you hit on my problem with the book, although it clearly bothered me more than you. Cyrus. I think what disturbed me most was when Cyrus takes Nathan's protege and Carrie makes no attempt to stop him. I just had a huge problem with that. Carrie should've at least made some token protest before the protege gets carted off (and presumably raped).

But the book already had some issues before then. It started out wonderfully. The darkness nad viciousness of vampires was shown perfectly. However, the way Carrie fell in with Nathan and his explanation of her 'new life' all seemed to convenient. There was part of me that could suspend disbelief enough to really buy all this.

In the end, I skimmed through the rest of the book. I think that my dislike for Carrie, largely stemming from the above scene, really ruined the book for me.

This was a book I wanted to like, but couldn't.

LesleyW said...

More Spoilers

I think Carrie felt (for whatever reason) that she had to honor the bargain she made to get the antidote. Which meant sticking with Cyrus. I think once Ziggy was there, she thought that she could get herself out, but wouldn't be able to get both of them out. I do think that when she initially left Ziggy with Cyrus that she thought he would just feed from him and then let him go. Which was naiive of her. Hence her decision then to wait until vampire New Year to get him out - which didn't go the way she planned.

I had to think of it as Cyrus being like crack cocaine or heroin - which I don't think quite came out in the way it was written. Carrie was perfectly capable of making a logical and coherent argument when she wasn't with him. But when she was with him she behaved like an addict. This was what Nathan had previously tried to explain to her, but she kind of pooh poohed it.

Naomi said...

Carrie was perfectly capable of making a logical and coherent argument when she wasn't with him. But when she was with him she behaved like an addict.

That's pretty much how I saw it. In addition, I personally felt that Armintrout set Carrie up as a somewhat morally dubious character - good at heart but perhaps not for the right reasons. Like when she reflects at the start that she became a doctor for the sense of power.

Cyrus is actually my favourite character in the series so far. I'm not that enamoured of Nathan. Dunno what that says about me as a person, lol.

LesleyW said...

The moral dubiosness was something else I not necessarily liked, but definitely felt had been lacking in the books I'd read recently. I think I've become slightly tired of reading about heroines who are so perfect and never do anything wrong.