The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi—pure-bloods—have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals—well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.
Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:
Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.
Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem—staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.
Half-Blood is the first in Jennifer Armentrout’s Covenant series, and it was also the first book I’ve ready by this author. I should note that I actually listened to it on audiobook, and the narrator had this weird kind of quaver to her voice that made her sound like she was about to cry through half the book, and about to have sex through the other half. (Awkward.)
It was quite distracting!
Anyway, I liked Half-Blood, which made me a bit sad. I really wanted to love it. It’s urban fantasy where the supernatural critters are descended from the Greek gods — a topic close to my own heart, and one I’ve not seen done before. The Pures are a bit like elemental mages, but the Halfs are more like regular humans with supercharged reflexes (think Buffy). The Daimons confused me a bit, because they are more like vampires than anything else — they drink Pure blood to get at the ether (think magical god juice — ew) within. They are created like vampires too, made from Pures who then lose their soul.
My favourite thing about Half-Blood was the voice. The blurb above gives you a taste, so you can see what I mean. The book is told in the first person, and the main character, Alex, has all kinds of sass. If you look up sass in the dictionary, there’s probably a picture of her, flipping the bird or something. The way she tells her story is funny, and I really liked the fact she wasn’t afraid to stand up to people who tried to push her around. She’s no wallflower, that’s for sure.
The flipside of that is that she makes being reckless an artform. I’ve read books with reckless characters before, and been able to get onboard with their behaviour because it made sense in context. (An example would be Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson.) Maybe I was distracted by the narrator’s wobbly voice, but there’s one point in Half-Blood — I won’t give away details, because spoilers — where she does something so incredibly stupid that I actually swore at my iPhone. (Audiobook, remember?)
Another thing that bugged me — and I admit this is petty — is that I found some of the quirks in the writing grated a little. For example, Aiden, the swoonworthy Senitinel who agrees to help get Alex up to speed so she isn’t booted out of the Covenant, says “Alex” in every other line of his dialogue. I ended up thinking he was concerned she might forget her name! :p I didn’t notice the other characters doing it quite as much, so maybe it was a quirk of his character rather than of Armentrout’s writing overall.
The story is fast-paced without leaving you breathless, which was great. I personally found I was able to guess every plot twist, but that might have just been luck (I’m not always that good a guesser!).
It was also refreshing to see a young adult urban fantasy where there wasn’t an in-your-face love triangle. Alex’s best friend is male, but there’s never even a hint of tension between the two of them — and I found I actually liked his character more for it. That being said, I suspect that there might be a future triangle later in the series, given the way events unfold relating to a certain Apollyon (think super-charged half-blood).
(One last note for those of you that have read the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead: I gather from reviews on Goodreads that there are some startling similarities between the plot, premise and characters of Half-Blood and those of VA. I haven’t read the latter, so I don’t have an opinion on that, but it’s worth a mention in case it sways you one way or the other.)
Like I said at the beginning, I liked Half-Blood even though I didn’t love it, and I may go back to find out what happens next in the series. Probably not in audiobook format, though. 😉
Cassandra Page is an urban fantasy writer who may have been guilty of introducing a sorta kinda love triangle in one of her books, so she probably shouldn’t be pointing fingers…