Thursday, January 28, 2010

Burning Alive: The Sentinel Wars by Shannon K. Butcher

Burning Alive (Sentinel Wars, #1) Burning Alive by Shannon K. Butcher

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Burning Alive was a book that pulled me in from the beginning. For that, I definitely give it points. I liked the storyline about Sentinels and their war against the Senestryn, a race of demons. The origins of the Sentinels are fascinating to me. There is an element of the futuristic, teamed with the ancient in their conception and their millenias-long war with the Senestryn. It had me thinking of Flash Gordon--and the various races that Flash encounters when he goes to Space in Dr. Zarkoff's rocket--for some reason. Don't ask! Humorous aside: I kept thinking about Sinestro, who is an arch-nemesis of Green Lantern from the DC Comics Universe. Anyone else make that connection? I do have to say that Ms. Butcher charted a course along familiar ground, but somehow made this story interesting and distinct from the other series, in my opinion. As I read, I could definitely see how she was influenced by other writers that I enjoy, but I don't feel that she was trying to copy them. As my sister likes to say, "There is nothing new under the sun." But what I appreciate is seeing an author take a familiar concept and give it a new approach or new life. I feel that Ms. Butcher did that.

I really liked the aspect of the warriors pining for their mate, and how they have the tattoo of a tree on their chest that grows as they age, and eventually starts to die, unless they find a mate. The leaves on the tree die and fall off, and the closer they get to the tree being completely denuded of leaves, the closer they are to their souls dying. I thought that was pretty interesting. I liked the fact that the warrior is full of energy and his mate taps that energy and uses it to fight the Senestryn in tandem with him. Very cool. I love a strong, powerful warrior who longs for a true love. Sigh! I felt so bad for all the warriors who will die, never finding their mate, since most of the Sentinel women were killed. I hope that more women will be found. The hope will keep me reading this series.

The characters in this story drew me in, and I cared about them. Maybe too much. It broke my heart when a character I fell in love with died horribly. I almost threw my book across the room. I rarely do that. I felt intense pain, and disbelief. Part of me still wants to believe that it's not the truth. The circumstances of the death really cast a pall over this story. I had trouble caring about Drake and Helen's romance, knowing that this person was dead. But at the same time, I think it showed the cost of this war. The scene in which Drake shows Helen the Hall of the Fallen, in which the sword of the dead warrior is hung in remembrance, was very profound. I felt the awe and the anguish at seeing how very many swords hung there. It added to my grief that I felt at the beloved character's death.

As I said, I wanted to find someone to blame for this person's death. It is easy for me to blame Helen, because she flaked at a crucial moment, her lifelong fear such a burden that she couldn't come through and tap her power to defeat the demon in time. It was a dilemma for me. I could see that Helen was just human, full of frailties and flaws. How many times have I failed someone who counted on me? More than I wanted to. Fortunately, it hasn't cost anyone a life, but poor Helen has that on her conscience. Although she will go on to fight in the war at Drake's side, basking in his love, I think she'll always feel grief that she couldn't save this person. The grief I share. I think that the reasons behind this courage-crippling vision of burning to death were not explained as well as I like. I hope that this will be explored further in the next books.

Drake and Helen's romance was good. They had good chemistry, with some steamy love scenes. I liked that Helen was an average girl with a normal, perhaps too-curvy figure, but Drake thought she was the sexiest woman alive. I liked the powerful chemistry between them when they met. I did want things to work out for them, although I was still depressed about the death of that person I was in love with. I admit, I'm more intrigued to see what will happen with Zack and Lexie than I was drawn into Helen and Drake's romance. Why is the first in the series always the least compelling? To keep us reading! I'm wondering what's going to happen with Logan. Will he find a mate as well? More questions than I have time to list in this review.

The cast of secondary characters has caught my interest, and I look forward to reading more about them. I'd like to see where this war with the Senestryn will go. I think that Ms. Butcher will continue to add dimensions to this interesting series she had created. I just hope she doesn't get me to fall in love with anymore characters and then kill them off. I don't think my heart can stand it.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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