Friday, October 14, 2011

REVIEW: Enduring Instincts by S.J. Frost

Enduring Instincts (Instincts, #2) Enduring Instincts by S.J. Frost
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Spoilers, Long Review

I like fluff, I like vampire story, but this fluffy vampire story just didn't work for me. I couldn't connect to Daniel and Ryunosuke's romance. With that, the whole story felt apart in front of me.

In book 1 Natural Instincts, I managed to like the story because it had some action and suspense that I'm fond of despite some flaws. In book 2 Enduring Instincts, the action and suspense were lacking and the flaws were woefully apparent. If Daniel was a girl and if there were no graphic sex scenes, Enduring Instincts could have been a Twilight wanna-be. The only advantages the Instincts series has over the Twilight series are stronger writing and graphic sex scenes (because I'm pervert).

Instincts' vampires didn't sparkle, but they acted teenagers.

The story proceed in 3rd POV, mostly from Daniel's. 90% of the story was focus on developing the romance between Daniel and Ryu, while the other 10% was on the unfinished business of the villains from book 1.

Vampires, or Just Misunderstood Maybe-Mutated Humans

The vampire mythos was contradictory. We learn Ancient vampires, vampires who reached the thousand years age mark, are major bad-asses. But later we learn Ancient vampires and the lesser-rank Lord vampires can easily be overtaken by a bunch of newbie vamps through sheer number. If this is so, how are the older vamps major bad-asses?
"Vampires might be stronger than humans, but so are countless species in the world. The legends make it seem like you're practically indestructible, when really, you're just as fragile as any or the world's creatures."
In term of pure physical strength, yes, there are species stronger than humans and vamps. In term of power? No. Humans got machine guns and nuclear weapons...which vampires can use as well along with their inherent powers.
"Very true. We're a litte more durable than humans and certainly our quicker healing abilities are a nice benefit, but yes, we can be more easily killed than the legends make us appear. In all the ways a human can be killed, really. Except for disease, of course. We haven't found any of those that affect us. Yet."
"A little more durable?" Seriously? What? Immortality and regeneration and disease-resistancy aren't good enough for you vamps? Sure, vamps can be killed...but they sure hella lot harder to kill than your average human. And they don't even need healthcare.

And then there is this...
"I guess that helps explain why Ancient vampires like Tirus are so revered. When you think about it, it's pretty incredible for any vampires is able to survive for hundreds of years and doesn't get killed in accidental mishaps, like getting hit a by a bus."
So the old-as-dirt vampires are revered because they survive life's geting hit by a bus. Really? Oy.

Weak-Ass Villains

So 10% of the story was about finishing the conflict left unfinished in book 1. In Natural Instincts, the villains had some evil momentum going on with the whole let's-take-over-the-vampire-world. In book 2, their plan frizzle out and I began to pity them like they were just misguided teenagers. What a huge disappointment watching these big evil-doers becoming like contrite teenage pranksters.
"We thought we could take over the city. Then we thought we could take over vampire society. It probably wouldn't have been long before we got power drunk we thought we could take over the world. But what would we have done with any of that? What would've been the point? Just to sit there and say, 'Look at me, I rule the world.' So what. It was all just stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid."
So many wrong things in this paragraph that Troy said.

1) The villains assumed too much they would be successful in their let's-take-over-the-world endeavor considering they lack the resources and knowledge. I got a good imagination, but I was wondering how in the nine-hells could these villains think they could accomplish that. So far, all they have been doing are just thug-works. The LA gangs are more dangerous than these vamps...

2) They weren't power drunk already? Dude, y'all were planning to take over the city and kill all the old vampires just because y'all wanted power. How is that not power drunk?

3) "What would've been the point?" I don't know but if the villains were imaginative or psychopath enough they would have known their ultimate goal for dominating the world. Just taking over the world for power's sake would have been good enough point. That's why villains are so...villainy, because they're willing any thing and everything to attain power. People do desire what they cannot have or cannot have easily. It's not stupidity, it's psychopathy. =)

4) What's with Troy being a weeping Wilma? Where's the anger from Daniel deceiving and pushing him off of a roof? What happened to the maniacal vampire from book 1? Talk about a 180 degrees change. Maybe the concussion did more than I thought...

So at the beginning the story, I learn the villains have some sort of revenge plan going on against Daniel. Understandable considering what Daniel did in book 1. But what I don't understand is why the crux of their evil plan focused so much on Daniel. Why not Andreas? If these "villains" really wanted to hurt Titus, Andreas would have been the easier way to go. It's really easy since Andreas, not yet fully vampire, wasn't protected when he's working at his zookeeping job.

I assume their evil plan is taking over the city while ridding and revenging on their enemies. I felt like these villains have no idea what they were doing and were just bumbling along a quasi-evil path. I don't know why they don't just kidnap the weak-links of our heroes and start delivering body parts to Titus and Ryu.

Hell, they didn't even need a strategy or intimidation considering all it actually took for Titus and companies to be defeated are many many many newbie vamps. Why don't the villains just gather some and do it already?
"Life and death," Titus said. "He could be that one extra ally they need to overpower us."
Hell, the villains could just have the same number of newbie vamps and equip them with guns and bombs. It would have been good enough power to overtake our heroes I believe.

The villain minions were rather pathetic. Vance changed loyalty too easily and too conveniently. But at least with Vance, it was understandable since our heroes spared his life after he and his friend tried off-ing Daniel.

Niven, I don't understand. Daniel tried to run over him with a car, not once, but twice...and oh yeah, head-slam him after Daniel flirted-to-deceive Niven in a intimidation scene. And it's not like Daniel haven't done this flirt-to-deceive deal to other vamps, I don't know why Niven thought Daniel wouldn't do that to him. Yet in the end, Niven chose to help Daniel...sincerely, and not as an act for a later backstabbing. Wow, mind-boggling. @_@

Troy and Issac loves each other...okay, so our villains have feelings. Then Troy "mercy-kill?" Isaac...after Isaac nursed Troy to health and all of that cripple circumstance. What? Makes no sense.

I don't understand why the villains captured only Daniel when the thug-vamps surrounded Daniel and Andreas at Andreas' workplace and left Andreas wholesomely alive. I don't know why the villains just didn't kill Daniel once their boss Isaac saw him.

I assumed Isaac and Troy are Turning their vampire minions, but who Turned Isaac and Troy? What masters would allow their vampiric children to be rogue?

I don't understand these villains. They're either weak-ass or schizo...or both. T_T

Miscellaneous Gripes

Like I said before, I couldn't connect to Daniel and Ryu's love for each other. I couldn't empathize either of them too. Daniel got the "I was sexually abused and now I got PTSD" angsty-deal, Ryu got the "My dad was a violent drunk who beats his family which influenced me to live a violent life" angsty-deal. The couple came off as emo to me. LOL, vampire emos. XD

Renart manage a vampire restaurant/lounge, Andreas is zookeeper of some sort, and the villains have their let's-take-over-the-world deal. What does Titus, Daniel, and Ryu do? Apparently, all I learned is that they live a life of leisure. That itself isn't a bad thing but I felt this background type made them under-developed as characters because they got to do something when they're not with their lovers or escaping dangers.

For example, I had a hard time imagining what Titus would be doing when Andreas is at work (assuming no villainy danger is present). Does he read or watch TV or something? Seems like he just disappear as a character, just re-appear once Andreas is back home again to maintain the character role that is Andreas' lover.

I don't know why our heroes didn't alert the Tribunal that the villains they thought rid of survived and is re-attempting their villainy plan.

I don't understand why other vampires except Titus and companies don't believe Ryu being Turned by a demon. If werewolves and vampires exist, why not demons? Is there some sort of vampire lore that said only vampires can be Turned by other vampires. And if so, how did vampires came to be?

I was playing around the idea that maybe it was demons who originally birthed the vampire race. Eventually the vampires find out they too can Turn humans, and after many years of this, the vampires long forgotten their demonic origin because demons were showing up less and less. So much less that demons later became a myth to the vampires. I think...


This vampire story wasn't my kind of story because frankly, these vampires, though they don't sparkle, weren't the kind of vampires I like to read about. I was expecting more brutality, more raw emotions, but I didn't get that. Since I wasn't enamored by the romance, the story had little to offer to me.

It's not a bad thing to romanticize vampires, but these vampires were romanticize to a point further than I'd like. That is these vampires were similar to those from Twilight which I dislike. To each their own.

I think the way the series can be improved is if the the vampire society and lores were flesh out more and all the characters, no matter how minor, to have clear and concise and consistent goals.

So what kind of vampire mm-rom stories do I like? The Enthralled series have a good combination of fluffity, brutality, and sexuality. They're short stories but they're impactful.

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