Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan
Rating: zero stars (out of four)
Let's see. Where should I begin? Hm. Well. Hm. It was a bit of a slow start. I wondered why the fun things the summary mentioned weren’t taking place.
Oddities: I thought the whole special-embrace-with-foreheads-touching thing was a little weird. I mean, I get it, they’re sisters, they have this special bond. BUT I didn't get why they ALWAYS touched foreheads whenever they met. Or maybe I just read that wrong? Surely it wasn’t always. Because that’s weird. (It is weird, right?)
Okay, moving on. When Algie was introduced, I had high hopes for him. He sounded so cool! But then he got brushed aside after the author made it clear he wasn't going to be a love interest for the sisters. And while it was nice to avoid a PESKY LOVE TRIANGLE, I was slightly disgruntled because I had been looking forward to Algie’s character. But it seemed like after the girls discovered the magic school they pretty much spent all of their time over there and they dismissed all of the people living in the village in favor of these funky magicians. I mean, I guess they were, like, trying to save the world or something, which is good...but the plot was kind of jumbled and all over the place...sort of like this review right now. Whoops.
Okay. Let me try again. I’ll be more specific about what I did and did not like.
The story was fairly entertaining. I wanted to know what happened next, even when I was a little annoyed with how characters or plot were progressing.
I also liked that the sisters were fairly well defined. I didn’t have trouble distinguishing between them.
Uh, I liked that they both had red hair? Drat. This is getting harder and harder to find things I liked. Maybe I should just move on to the dislikes now.
The cover. I didn't like the girls on the cover because they looked SO DIFFERENT from the Phil and Fee I pictured. Bbbbuuuttt I think if you haven't read the novel you'll find it satisfactory.
This is just going to get into spoiler territory soon enough. so I'll say a little bit spoiler free and then launch into an all-out-tirade. It’s mostly the relationships that frustrated me to NO END. I also didn't think the magic was well-rounded. It needed a better explanation. The viewpoint jumped all over the place and felt sloppy. I even got confused a few times because I wasn’t sure who was talking. Well, okay, I thought I’d be able to say more, but I think that’s pretty much it. This next long bit is spoilerific. Tread at your own risk.
The relationships between Fee and Thomas and Phil and Arden. Fee and Thomas, I get it, I get it. It’s the whole love-at-first-sight-but-it's-actually-going-to-work-because-they-both-believe-in-true-love-shtick. Fine. But I would have liked more development. AND why on earth did Thomas decide to leave and GO TO WAR? What?? That felt like a cheap SEQUEL ploy. How nice to get Thomas out of the way so Arden could go crazy.
Now, the relationship with Phil and Arden. You knew that was coming. Opposites attract, right? But come on, it was obvious they'd fall for each other, it was only a matter of when. Oh, I thought of something else that could kind of slide into the LIKE category. I thought the author did a good job of creating tension between these two: just when you thought they'd finally express their liking each other something prevented it. Every time that happened: "Yikes, how are they going to make it out of this one? Whoa. Didn't see that coming. Good shot, author, you wounded the budding love scene - yes, tension!”
Unfortunately, most of those tension-building obstacles annoyed me too. I mean, it was fine and all for Phil to realize she wasn't in love with her old beau. But I ended up just feeling so SORRY for him because he was clearly in love with her and Phil just strung him along because she couldn’t make up her mind. And she was fine with him going off to war. That's not very nice for someone-you-were-thinking-about-marrying-but-who's-really-your-brother-but-not. (Yeah, also weird/confusing/disjointed relationship there.)
And then the MAJOR thing that bothered me. The whole - what would you be willing to do for your country - anything? Die? Yes. Now? GOOD IDEA.
I didn't appreciate how Arden had to seduce the enemy by sleeping with the main evil lady (I forgot her name) to get their battle plans. I mean, how many times did he have to sleep with her? Like all the time? And all the while he was sleeping around he was completely in love with Phil? But he was doing it for his school, his livelihood? Okay, now that you’ve explained that, it makes it all better. NO. Why on earth couldn't he tell Phil. Didn't he realize how much this was going to hurt her? Did he think she wouldn’t FIND OUT? Um, hello, hearing it from you would have been TEN THOUSAND TIMES BETTER than witnessing it herself. When she found out, sure she was devastated, but she took him back WAY WAY TOO FAST.
Nope. Nope. Nooope. I wouldn't take him back so fast. Not after he failed to tell me he was sleeping with the enemy and then had the gall to rationalize it with: "If you could save your country by cutting off your finger, wouldn't you? If you could save your country by sleeping with the enemy, wouldn’t you?" and Phil was all understanding. Phil just bounced right back because she understood some sacrifices had to be made and if that meant Arden sleeping with the enemy, well then, okay!
And here’s the other biggie about Arden. After Phil makes herself explicitly clear about magic and her body, Arden disregards all of that and PLANTS it in her. He “restores” her EVEN THOUGH she already told him she didn’t want that happening to her. What. WHAT. Arden is the smarmiest. And by this point I was really NOT a fan of him. The whole thrusting magic back into her body against her wishes kind of sent me through the roof. I wanted Phil to ditch him. Majorly ditch him.
Phil even asked him to take the magic back out of her and Arden couldn’t, because it was physically impossible. I’m sorry, but he shouldn’t have made the decision to do something irrevocable. Major breach of trust. Phil, please ditch him. You can’t trust him. He won’t respect your choices, EVER. He will do what he sees fit because his opinion is all that matters. At what point will he stop and say, "Wait, this is too far, this is going over the line." Because I don’t think he’s capable of that type of reasoning. Sorry bud, but the whole “end justifies the means” attitude is NOT endearing.
And then Arden’s secret backstory? Not okay. What he did to that girl he was supposedly in LOVE with was despicable. It was heart-breaking to see what he put her through. I understand you’re mad at being used like that, but is this the PROPER MODE OF CONDUCT? NO. Never. Get a hold of yourself. All of these signs point to an abusive relationship. Phil, run. Arden’s life choices = not good. He completely disregards rules/laws: hello, case in point, remember that one time when he tried to KILL Phil in the beginning of the story because she stepped into the magical property? Even though killing was COMPLETELY against what the magicians stood for? Yeah, not cool. And all these times Phil took him back. I kind of have a headache just thinking about it.
Well, there were a lot of things I didn’t like in this book, but they seemed to be directly tied to the character relationships and drama. And I know this review has been pretty rant-y, but I had so many FEELINGS I was REELING from after finishing. In short: don’t read this book.*ARC generously provided through NetGalley by publisher in exchange for my honest review.