Book Review: Cheating Death

I recently received the opportunity to read an ARC* of April White’s newest book (released today! Get it!), the fifth and final installment of the amazing Immortal Descendants series: Cheating Death.

The Blurb

In the thrilling conclusion to The Immortal Descendants series, a life has ended, the future is lost, and a war has just begun. 

An explosion has split Time and Archer has paid the ultimate price, leaving Saira heartbroken and desperate to repair the rupture. But the blast has trapped Saira in an alternate future where Mongers are cornered predators and Death is the ultimate judge. If Saira and her larcenous friend, Ringo, ever want to see Archer alive, they must pull off the impossible – alter history at a moment in time to which they cannot return. But saving Archer will restore a timeline where Mongers have complete control, mixed bloods are hunted prey, and the Descendant world is spiraling into chaos.

As Saira uses her Clocking skills to prevent her worst nightmares from coming true, she travels from the dirty streets of Victorian London to the secret archives of the Vatican. She seeks a purpose that is greater than smashed hope, greater than lost love, greater than the prophecy that has shaped her very existence. She must use the lessons of history to free the present and shape the future. And in the end, Saira and her friends will face War and Death in the most important battle of all – the one for Peace.

The Cover

The Review

I don’t want to delve too much into what’s gone before, because SPOILERS!, but my main irritation (really, my only irritation) with the book (and this genre – YA – in general) is the whole falling madly in love and getting married while still a teenager – especially when half the duo is more than a century old. That really turns up my squick factor. However, since that’s my only quibble (and Saira’s and Archer’s relationship is hella more stable than any sparkly vampire couple), I guess I’ll let it go.

The best parts of this book are the historic characters (Mary Shelley! Oscar Wilde!), the history (secret Vatican intrigue!), and the fact that Saira is an unabashed feminist and really sticks to her guns about that, regardless of what time she’s in and who’s pushing back. For someone so young (see above “teen marriage” reference), she really comes into her strength over the arc of this series and I love how much pushback she gives to everyone who even sidles up to the implication that women – especially young women – are not up to snuff.

“…that word ‘just,’ when used as an adverb, means ‘only’ and ‘no more than.’ By using ‘just’ that way, you’re saying there’s something greater than being female, and you’ve implied that being female isn’t enough.”

See? That’s Saira talking to someone considerable older, more powerful, and with a lot more woman-experience behind her.

What balances – and nicely, I might add – Saira’s feminist strength to keep her from being unrealistic is the fact that she is so very obviously not fully adult yet. She’s technically old enough, but there is still some major frontal lobe development that needs to happen. She’s more thoughtful in this book than in earlier ones, but still has to rein in her tendency to think before acting. Everything is so close to the surface yet – which of course it is in all of us when we’re newly emerging into adulthood and haven’t yet learned to temper our emotions with our experience (and most of us aren’t time travelers trying to repair rifts in the time stream and rescue our vampire lovers while avoiding being killed by angry clerics).

April’s world building is fantastic. I love me some urban fantasy – it’s so much more satisfying to me to have our world infested with the supernatural than to imagine other worlds where anything is possible. I like the idea that the dude I saw hunched in a trench coat in the shadows might be a vampire, and if I just find the right person, I can be next in line for some blood-sucking immortality.

I should probably hang out in cemeteries more often.

The character building throughout this series has also been quite good. I am exceptionally fond of Ringo and love the path that Raven took in her development.

This five book series has been a fantastic journey, and my only real regret is that it’s over. (Although I want at least a novella with Mr. Shaw…gotta love a bear shifter, amiright?)

The Quote(s)

“Miss Elian, I do believe we should be friends. There is something quite extraordinary about a woman who is quite completely herself. I find that being oneself is an excellent choice, as everyone else is already taken.” (–Oscar Wilde)

The bath had done him good though, and he must have eaten fairly recently because his resting corpse-face had filled out enough to be considered chiseled rather than emaciated.

The Verdict

This book, in addition to being a great conclusion to a wonderful story, full of amazing world building, fascinating history, exceptional character development, and a unique back story for the supernaturals running around this earth, also made me laugh out loud more than once.

It’s out today! Buy it! Love it! Get the series!

 

*I received this book for free. In return I am giving a review. The gift of the book in no way changed the fact that it was amazing. If I’d hated it, I just would’ve “forgotten” to review it or something.

 

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