Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

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Title: Any Given Doomsday
Author: Lori Handeland
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Paperback: 352 pages
Series Order: The Phoenix Chronicles Book 1
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Elizabeth Phoenix once used her unique skills as a psychic to help in the Milwaukee Police Department’s fight against injustice. But when Liz’s foster mother is found viciously murdered—and Liz is discovered unconscious at the scene—her only memory of the crime comes in the form of terrifying dreams...of creatures more horrific than anything Liz has seen in real life. What do these visions mean? And what in the world do they have to do with her former lover, Jimmy Sanducci?
While the police question Jimmy in the murder, Jimmy opens Liz’s eyes to a supernatural war that has raged since the dawn of time in which innocent people are hunted by malevolent beings disguised as humans. Only a chosen few have the ability to fight their evil, and Jimmy believes Liz is among them. Now, with her senses heightened, new feelings are rising within Liz—ones that re-ignite her dangerous attraction to Jimmy. But Jimmy has a secret that will rock Liz to her core…and put the survival of the human race in peril.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Right from the beginning, Any Given Doomsday starts off with a murder and the main character, Liz, having a vision and going into a coma. Awesome start? Yeah, I thought so too. The stakes are high immediately, which makes for a great story. There was a bit of info-dumping going on in places, and there were times where I thought that Liz accepted her new life too easily. I also wish that the plot was more developed. By that, I mean that there isn't much in the way of suspense. The plot doesn't grow more complex as the story goes on, it just stays with the high stakes established from the beginning. While I felt like much of the humor was forced in this book, I still enjoyed it. It's not quite as snappy or witty as other urban fantasies out there, but it's got a great concept going for it. And, it's a fast-paced, intriguing read.

Liz finds out that she's the new alpha-seer and has to cope with accepting her abilities (new and old) and the responsibilities that come with being a seer. I like the concept of having a seer help demon killers rid the world of evil, and I especially liked how Handeland combined the Bible and the mythologies to create this world. All supernatural stories have their own twist on creatures, and I really like Handeland's take on things.

I loved the characters. Handeland obviously put a lot of work into them. They all had such complex histories and backgrounds, which made them interesting to read about. As the reader, we don't know all of what these characters have been through, but we do get a deeper sense of their history and it makes them seem like real people. The main thing that got me going through this book (aside from wanting to know about the murder!) was my interest in the characters. I cared about them right away and only got more interested as the story progressed.

In terms of romance, this one is only okay. I felt like I was just being told that Liz and Jimmy had an attraction for each other. Okay, they have a history, but I didn't understand why they still had feelings for each other. It didn't really show in their actions or the way they interacted. I was just told they really cared for each other and had to accept that at face-value. There's a point where Liz has to visit a shaman-witch-shapeshifter guy named Sawyer to help unlock her powers. These scenes with just her and him were way more romantic and intriguing than the ones with Liz and Jimmy. I hope Sawyer continues to be a major player in the series.

If you like urban fantasy, try this one out. I thought it was worth the read and it's good enough to make me want to read the sequel. Not an automatic favorite, but The Phoenix Chronicles definitely has potential.

*I received this book for free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's Program in exchange for an honest review.*