Let me first say, that I was barely HALFWAY through this book and I was already itching to come on here and write a review. But no, I was a good girl, I practiced resistance, and I saved you all from a HUGE fangirl explosion of 1000 exclamation marks placed after every sentence, and the complete overuse of the words AMAZING, ASTOUNDING, and SPECTACULAR. Really, I could go on for a few hours here.......!!!!!! (There they are, I had to).
I'm sure I've mentioned it a few times already, but if not, let me mention it once more: Neil Gaiman is pretty much my literary GOD in the world of fantasy/sci-fi. NO one else has been able to match his writing abilities in my eyes, and I was convinced that no one ever would. Then Mr. Merrick happened, and Exhiled happened, and I am highly convinced that I have just found my 2nd favourite Fantasy writer of all time. I believe that he has the great potential to get to where Gaiman is, and I am officially a HUGE fan.
Okay okay, I've rambled. Time to review: I.LOVED.THIS.BOOK. I can't remember the last time I've given a book 5 stars, I truly can't. This book was reminiscent of SO many great things for me: Buffy, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, a whole SLEW of fairy tales from my youth. But instead of it reading like copycat content, I felt like it mostly encompassed the very best elements, essences, and feelings of all of those sources-I was enthralled, I was interested, I was completely and utterly absorbed in the storyline. Which made my very soul SO happy-I've been reading some pretty horrible paranormal/fantasy lately. There is such a potential to come off as completely corny and over the top in this genre, and I think Merrick handled it like a PRO. There is definitely a need for more MALE YA writers of his talent.
Merrick's writing style flowed effortlessly-the dialogue was well placed, witty, and just long enough. The use of descriptive imagery in scenes is SO important to me. I 'm a visual learner at heart, and when it comes to books, I love nothing more than being able to picture in my head exactly what's unfolding. This book made that extremely easy-I was never confused, nor did I have to re-read passages more than once to figure out what the crap just happened. The worlds created in Exhiled had to be one of my ultimate favourite things, aside from the characters. I LOVED that the author switched it up near the end, and we were introduced to the world of Drakar-oh my goodness, DON'T even get my started on the genius, fantastical imagery and characters that made up this world. I was COMPLETELY enamored.
The characters. OH the characters. I don't think it could get much better than the set of amazing personalities that Merrick created in this book. Chase wasn't your typical, brooding, "I'm so hot, SWOON for me" male lead. Rayna was cocky, yes, but you instantly knew there was more to her than that (she kind of reminded me of the vampire Jody from Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends-whom I ADORED). It is SO refreshing to read a fantasy/paranormal book that doesn't involve "insta-love"-a theme which seems to occupy EVERY YA book these days. The relationship between Chase and Rayna was comfortable and entertaining-I loved their banter, and thought they developed separately, and as a team, at just the perfect pace.
The secondary characters were brilliant. I adored Willy and Tikki, and I can't WAIT to read more from them in the 2nd and 3rd installments. Their characteristics really helped make this book stand out for me-I could picture them perfectly in my mind, and I find myself missing reading about them already. I also thought the villains were VERY well developed, and weren't over the top in ways that just annoyed me, instead of propelling the story forward.
The conclusion of this book was perfect. It wrapped up the entire storyline beautifully, but with just the right amount of cliffhanger. It was like an episode of your favourite TV show-you already KNOW you're going to tune in the next week. As I am DEFINITELY going to be picking up books 2 and 3 in this series. A COMPLETE winner in my books, and an outstanding debut for M.R.Merrick. Bravo!!show more