Friday, May 22, 2020

Book Review and Writing Lessons: Firstborn by Tosca Lee

Face-to-face with her past, Audra Ellison now knows the secret she gave up everything—including her memory—to protect. A secret made vulnerable by her rediscovery, and so powerful neither the Historian nor the traitor Prince Nikola will ever let her live to keep it.

With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries-old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers.

With the help of a heretic monk and her Progeny friends Claudia, Piotrek, and Jester, Audra will risk all she holds dear in a final bid to save them all and put her powers to the ultimate test. Love, action, and stunning revelation reign in this thrilling conclusion to The Progeny.

Series: Descents of the House of Bathory (Book 2)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Publisher: Howard Books; Reprint edition (May 2, 2017)
Page Count: 337 pages

I'm gonna be honest, it was a little hard reading this book lately. Reading characters being able to do all the things I want to do like go to restaurants, festivals, and travel was kinda tough with this day in age, but I pushed through it and ended up enjoying it. Ironically, it feels easier to relate to characters who are in more fantastical circumstances right now. 

Also warning this review has a lot of spoilers about the first book just cause of secrets revealed. Read at your own risk.

The Plot: This book picks up exactly where it left off in The Progeny! It’s definitely a thriller with car chases, running, and gunfights. There are lots of good twists and you really worry about the ultimate fate of the Audra and her family and the Utod as a whole.

The Characters: It was cool to finally see Audra as nearly her full self. She’s a devoted wife and mother and brave and smart. She’s definitely a strong and realistic protagonist. One thing I have to say about her backstory is for God’s sake, fictional and real parents, quit waiting to tell your kid she’s adopted at 16! Stop it! It never ends well. My parents never hid the fact I was adopted and I did not have an existential crisis when I found out I was adopted. It was just normal for me.

I also enjoyed the side characters like Jester, Ronan, and Claudia. Luka was definitely my favorite though. 

I also really appreciate that Tosca Lee has her characters give genuine reactions to things. Often these can feel either overplayed or underplayed. But she hits the sweet spot. 

The Setting: Again it was nice to spend time in the intriguing Eastern European setting and see all of the different sights.

Epic Things: There was a Doctor Who reference which I always appreciate. There's also a scene with a room filled with invisible ink messages lit by a black light which put a really cool picture in my head. I also liked the costumes they wore near the climax of birds and dragons. So cool.

The Theme: This line really struck me:

"A life so mundane that we would search for meaning. Imagine! A life so secure, that we have to search for meaning because staying alive is such a given that we don't even know what it's for." ~Luka 

Sometimes we take for granted just the beauty of being alive of being able to enjoy all of the things the world has to offer even if it's just in our backyard.

Content Cautions: I guess if this was a movie it would be on the milder side of a PG-13 rating. There is some blood from gunshot wounds, someone drowns, someone gives the bird, a husband and wife make love, a man mentions that his “testicles are on the chopping block,” and it’s mentioned that a girl had sex as a teen and that she took pictures of herself changing into a swimsuit. There was also some mild swearing. Just two uses of a** and one of hell. The worst instance of content was a man was found crucified and some of the effects of decay were described.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Young Parents - Luka and Audra are in their early twenties but have a young daughter. They love their little girl Audra fiercely and go through great lengths to protect her.

How this can be applied to writing: I feel like young parents aren't shown very much in fiction anymore unless it's a story surrounding a teen pregnancy or something. Maybe it's just my location but I have many friends who started having kids in their early twenties and it's interesting to get a glimpse of that early stage in parenthood.

2.) Character Wear and Tear - Audra often deals with the side effects of being tired and stressed all the time. She forgets to eat and feels the effects of that too and she has to get new clothes when her old ones are ruined.

How this can be applied to writing: Don't forget that your characters are human and have human needs. When they're up for three days straight they're going to feel it and they can't keep that bloody shirt on forever.

Conclusion: There was a lot I liked about it, but reading a book in our world during the time of a pandemic just made getting into it hard for me. It didn't steal me away as much as I needed a book to right now.

About the Author: Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels including A SINGLE LIGHT, THE LINE BETWEEN, THE PROGENY, THE LEGEND OF SHEBA, ISCARIOT, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages and been optioned for TV and film. A notorious night-owl, she loves movies, playing football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

Other books by this author I've reviewed: 

A Book Review of The Progeny by Tosca Lee

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