Slashback by Rob Thurman
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
They’re baaa-aaack! The Brothers Leandros, that is. And despite some misgivings I had during the early pages of Slashback, they are back in style in a way that surpasses the last book on every level, to my mind.
Let me begin by saying Rob Thurman is a very strong writer who has created a super Urban Fantasy world with the Cal Leandros books. I have loved them from the start, and am happy to say that my disappointment over some of the things in the last book, Doubletake, has been completely eliminated. This book is a standout in so many ways, though there are still plot issues I’m anxious to see return and be resolved.
WHAT DID I LOVE?
Most everything, but as always, the best part for me is the way Thurman writes brotherly love. I don’t care that she hits on this issue in every single book. I never get tired of the committment between these two, each willing to die for the other, but preferring to make the bad guys die, instead.
A new villain who was super scary, and who took us on a roller coaster ride that kept me engrossed throughout the story. There were a couple of plot “stretches,” that made me work to believe them, but they were worth the effort. And there were definitely some poorly edited bits here and there, which is always an issue with me. I’m thinking a new copy editor might be a good investment. A couple of the mistakes really shouldn’t have slipped by. Just sayin’…..
I also loved the way the story was told via alternating perspectives, with Cal’s being set in the present, and Niko’s flashing back twelve years to the days before they were old enough to be on their own. It really showed how difficult their home life had been and why Niko was forced to become the ninja-warrior big brother from hell in order to protect Cal from the horrors chasing him. Their wretched excuse for a mother would never have done it. In fact, she was pretty much a horror, herself. Plus, I loved how each chapter’s final line tied in with the opening line of the flashback chapter. It was very well done, and made me smile every time. Some people do not enjoy shifts in perspective, but for me, if they are done right, they can be really effective in rounding out a story from every angle. This was perfectly done. Kudos to Thurman.
WHAT DID I LOVE LESS?
Cal, in the first few pages, was embracing his non-human (Auphe) side a little bit too much for my taste, which was a problem for me all the way through the last book. But it soon became apparent that Niko was aware of this, and after some serious head-smacking, Cal began to behave more like his snarkier, funnier self, and was less inclined to continue thinking humans were merely sheep he was protecting because his brother wanted him to. That is NOT the Cal of old, and I was really missing Old Cal for a while, there. Thankfully, he began to stomp on his monster half and pull his human half to the fore, so I was able to love him all over again.
Robin Goodfellow’s sudden revelations out of nowhere at the end of the book. They felt tacked on, and I can’t even imagine what they can possibly add to the story. In fact, they seemed to me to weaken everything about who Cal & Niko are by dilution. (You’d have to read it to understand it.) I wish it had never been added/revealed. Maybe it’s a Trickster’s idea of a good “gotcha!” That would be nice. Hopefully, the next book will make it work better than it did stuck in here like a non sequitur.
WHAT WOULD I LIKE TO SEE IN BOOK 9, WHICH I’VE READ MIGHT BE THE LAST BOOK OF THE SERIES?
Past issues resolved, particularly involving Cal’s love interest from the first book, “George.” I miss that lovely, spirited girl, and I think Cal needs her in his life. I’m hoping she will come back into the story.
Delilah done away with. I hate even hearing she’s still alive, much less causing trouble.
Niko & Promise finding their way to a stronger relationship.
Grimm and any other Auphes left in the world annihilated.
Cal to finally understand he is NOT a monster, and to embrace his human half completely, without reservation.
Some peace and happiness for these two troubled souls, all the way around. They’ve earned it over and over.
Bottom line, an imperfect book, perhaps, but still very strong, and mostly, just a lot of fun. Long live the OLD Cal, in all his snarky glory. If you have never tried this series, in spite of the fact that many reviews tell you this book will work as a stand-alone book, do NOT read it first. Do yourself a favor and start at the beginning with Nightlife, and savor the fun of each one. You will watch Cal grow up in front of your eyes and see their world becoming more complex and interesting as you read. It’s so worth it!
BTW, though this series is about two young adults, Cal & Niko, it is NOT a Young Adult series in any way. Just in case you were wonderin’…..
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