Soul Bound
by Mari Mancusi, fantasy (2012)
Berkley, $9.99, ISBN 978-0-425-24547-7


This is a review of a book at the late end of a series, so if you want to keep reading anyway despite having not read any book in Mari Mancusi's Blood Coven series, feel free to check out my review of the first book for background information on the McDonald sisters.

Where we last left off... well, it doesn't matter. In this book, Rayne McDonald, vampire and vampire slayer (it's complicated, really) is charged to kill her twin sister Sunny and Sunny's beau Magnus. One thing leads to another, and the next thing I know, this story turns into a playful riff of some elements from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief with World of Warcraft worship, and, for added bonus, the author's personal message to all ebook pirates out there. I'm not going to go into any more detail, because I suspect that spoiling the second-to-last book in a series may earn me a place in Hell next to those ebook pirates.

But the story is fun. Then again, Rayne is doing the narrative duty here, and she's always the more entertaining twin sister. Unlike Sunny, she doesn't mope or whine too much. I love the irreverent barbs at everything from MTV reality shows to emo vampires. Things in this story happen mostly due to the author pulling things out of her rear end, but she piles on the punchlines so nicely that I am more than happy to have fun all the way to the end.

Unfortunately, Rayne is paired with Jareth, who actually becomes a hundred times more emo in this story. It's not just a case of cutting wrists to the most dreary song from My Chemical Romance, it's more like a Nagasaki of pathetic whining. Rayne experiences a genuinely traumatic loss in this story, and Jareth responds by claiming that it is his fault - even when he's not even there during that scene - and so, he is dumping her because he is no good for her. On the spot! When Rayne is still recoiling from the loss! I do understand that Jareth is in many ways a playful riff of the emo vampire boyfriend, but Jareth's one-man whine and dine show becomes too much for me, especially when he lets Rayne suffer alone in his pathetic need to become the center of everyone's attention. Still, it could be worse: Sunny and Jareth could have ended up together instead. That will be a reason to start drinking.

As the seventh book in the series, Soul Bound sure does not read like the book that will build up the grand finale in the next and final book in the series. The events at the end of this book and the sneak peek of the next book are quite a surprise, in fact. Then again, this series isn't your conventional young adult paranormal series - it is more of a playful parody of popular tropes of the genre. From Buffy-speak to popular teen culture references, books in this series cheerfully zig-zag through plot developments that often don't make sense. That's why this series is fun. Therefore, perhaps I shouldn't expect this book to build up conventionally into a grand finale. Still, a part of me wonders what the author is going to do with all the plot threads left dangling from as far back as Night School - there were some interesting developments in the series up to this point, and I don't know how the author is going to resolve those with the route she chooses to take for the last book in this series.

Oh well, there's no use pondering too much about that now. What I can say here is that I have fun with this book, although there is a small part of me that can't help being taken aback by the development in the last few pages of this book. Speaking for myself, it has been a fun ride so far, and this book still manages to deliver those feel good times to keep me onboard until the train stops in the next book. Let's see what happens then.

Rating: 79


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