Taken at Dusk by C.C. Hunter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
CAUTION: Long Review, Spoilers
Taken At Dusk is book 3 of the Shadow Falls series, a series that is named after the summer camp turned school for supernatural adolescents. At least I thought Shadow Falls was supposed to be a school beginning in book 2. However, it turned out at 83% in book 3 Shadow Falls was "getting the camp ready to become a full-blown school." What?!
All this time Kylie was going to a camp, not a school. Fine. Then where were the camp activities in book 3 that supposed to have the kids learning and respecting supernatural cultures and be all kumbaya and crap? Because one scene of a group activity serving another episode of "When Kylie Gets Attacked" and one scene of a camp festival serving another episode of "Everybody, Especially Those Two Boys, Loves Kylie" didn't count.
In short, TAD failed to maintain its setting.
Kylie shouldn't be worrying about her mother discovering her secret life in the supernatural world. She should be worrying about her mother discovering she have been sending Kylie to play hooky.
Kylie the Bum
So what is Kylie doing at Shadow Falls if she's not learning anything and evil dudes keep trying — oh heavens are they trying — to kill her there? It was the question that persisted in my mind as I read over 107,000 words of the novel. I hazard Kylie going to Shadow Falls was so she could discover her supernatural identity because she sure as white on rice wasn't human.
Shadow Falls was the only “safe” place Kylie knew where the supernatural races gathered. I guess Kylie didn't give a hoot whether Shadows Fall was a camp or school as long she got her answer. Because knowing what magical creature you are is somehow more important than getting your education and preparing for your future so you can have money for food, shelter, and clothes. Alrighty then. At least she has a goal.
Kylie the Wanna-be Sinner
In TAD, Kylie was presented with the theory that she may be a “protector.” I thought perhaps it was our answer. Except one teeny tiny eensy problem: What the frell is a protector?
Kylie's gal-pals said it's someone who is “super, super rare,” with strength greater than a vampire's. “They can be anything, but they’re known to be good and pure. Sort of the Mother Teresa of supernaturals,” “usually...only one protector born every hundred or two hundred years.” And that's all we ever learn because Kylie was repeatedly sidetracked by boy troubles to pursue the matter. *facepalm* The ditz couldn't keep sight of her goal.
It gets worse. The ditz took the Mother Teresa reference literal because she thought being a protector meant she to had be a nun and she didn't want to be a nun or any other sort of a saint. In her own words, she said she wanted “to sin,” i.e. to drink, to tell dirty jokes, to do things with boys (chapter 22). Sweet Jesus Honey Dews!
Putting aside Kylie's purity shit, if Kylie bothered to learn more about protectors, then she might have learned earlier on as opposed to near the end of the book that protectors weren't supernatural saints. Protectors protect people, they don't go and become nuns! This was one the many examples of Kylie being a dumbass.
Kylie the Dumbass
Another example was Kylie's insistence on helping an amnesiac ghost after Holiday told her the ghost may be a hell-bound spirit in chapter 21.
Why didn't Holiday warn Kylie about this in book 1 when Kylie first confessed she saw dead people instead chapter frigging 21 of book frigging 3? What kind of a camp counselor is she? Isn't Shadow Falls supposed to be a place of education, not keeping people ignorant?
To be fair, Holiday was redeemed after she quickly conceded the matter to Kylie. Kylie, OTOH, did nothing to redeem herself. I believe Kylie was equally at fault for failing to learn about hell-bound spirit as Holiday was at fault for failing to teaching Kylie. Kylie should've taken the time out to learn more about her ghost-whispering power instead relying on Holiday to tell her everything every time Kylie encounter something ghosty. For a girl who whined at people for not helping her, she hardly did anything to help herself.
Moreover, I couldn't believe Kylie used the stupid excuse that her heart told her it's the right thing to do by helping the ghosts. The ditz can't even decide between two boys, so her heart isn't the right body part to listen. Maybe if she'd use her brain, she would know.
Kylie the Hypocrite
If she'd use her brain, she would realize she had no business asking Ellie if Ellie had sex with Derek. Kylie wasn't with Derek, she was with Lucas. Whatever Derek and Ellie did was their own business. Derek and Kylie sharing a past didn't afford Kylie the privilege to intrude.
I was astounded to read Kylie "admitting she was a virgin to a stranger [to Ellie] didn’t sit well with her" (chapter 25) but confronting a stranger about their sexual activity was. R U FUCKING KIDDING ME? Kylie was completely blinded to her hypocrisy! I really, really, really wanted Ellie to bitchslap Kylie.
Kylie the Useless Heroine
Basically, for the entire novel, Kylie was useless. She wasn't assertive in her goal to discover her supernatural identity. She wasn't even assertive in helping the amnesiac ghost until the ghost resorted to giving Kylie visions, visions that forced Kylie to walk in the ghost's shoes in the ghost's dying moments. That's why I called BS on Kylie's excuse that she just wanted to do the right things and be altruistic. Bitch, please. It was more like Kylie wanted the ghost off of her back.
Pretty much every time I thought Kylie was about to become productive in her self-discovery quest, she got sidetracked with her boy troubles.
The Love Triangle, aka Kylie the Fickle Girlfriend
The series didn't just drag out the mystery of Kylie's supernatural identity, it also dragged out Kylie's love triangle. I truly thought things with Derek were over in book 2. Foolish me. Derek came back in TAD and the status quo of the love triangle reaffirmed itself.
Things started to look up when Kylie attempted to get over Derek and hooked up with Lucas. For while, I liked Lucas until I realize how Kylie tells everything to Lucas, but Lucas hardly tells anything to Kylie.
I did not like how Lucas kept silent that members of his race disapproved of his relationship with her. I didn't like how Kylie have to find out about it from Fredericka, the bitch werewolf crushing on Lucas, and Lucas's grandmother. And if what Ellie screamed at Lucas in chapter 23 was true, then Kylie should breakup with Lucas before she learn the hard way that Lucas will choose his pack over her.
Yet the ditz didn't even bat a thought at Ellie's outburst. She immediately accepted Derek's apology in the next scene. To be fair, Lucas flattered her after his apology and it couldn't be helped that Kylie was a ditz and befuddled by the seduction of corny lines.
Finally, near the end of TAD, Derek confessed his love for Kylie and the poor ditz was befuddled some more. What a girl to do with two unsuitable boys?
Things I Didn't Like
Overall, I didn't like Kylie the ditz. I didn't like the two boys mooning over the ditz. I didn't like the ditz's self-involved gal-pals Della and Miranda and their love triangles — Della with Lee and Steve, Miranda with Perry and Todd. This series is shitting love triangles!
The one character I did like TAD killed! It was Ellie. Poor vamp never got a chance. Apparently, decent people are endangered in this series.
My biggest gripe was how Kylie's supernatural identity was revealed at the end in another tiresome cliffhanger. The way it was revealed, it could have been easily revealed as early as book 2 if not book 1. Daniel, Kylie's biological father of a ghost, told her they were chameleons. Yuuuup. They're lizards.
Basically, the first 2/3 of TAD was filler while the last 1/3 was the actual story-telling.
Things I Did Like
Yet, TAD had its fun moment, if only few and far. I enjoyed the girl's silly chats, especially the one that degenerated to “Della [turning] on the computer [to look] up strange mating behaviors that included everything from exploding testicles to slinging poop with a tail.” I enjoyed the explosive end of the camp festival, courtesy of Miranda's magic misaim, where Burnett was literally hopping mad. I enjoyed the subplot romance between Burnett and Holiday — the one couple who didn't have a love triangle.
Finally, I enjoyed Kylie's public humiliation when Kylie's mother and old best friend Sara came to visit her at Shadow Falls in chapter 30. I wished it lasted longer and not besmirched by Kylie's rudeness against Sara.
I rate TAD a solid 2-stars for it was okay. I recommend the TAD for readers who enjoyed book 1-2. For readers interested in the series, book 3 is a good place to start.
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