St. Martin’s Press, March 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-59906-5, ISBN10: 0-312-59906-4
Young Adult Fiction, 432 pages
“Human will is the strongest will ever created. There are those who are born to succeed and those who are determined to succeed. The former fall into it, and the latter pursue it at all costs. They won’t be denied. Nothing daunts them.” – Kody, pp. 292-293
INVINCIBLE is the second book in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Chronicles of Nick series. The first one, Infinity, was released on May 25, 2010. When I found out that the book I would be getting was already the second book in the series, I decided to get myself a copy of Infinity and read it until I received Invincible from the mail, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press. (In this regard, GatheringBooks would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and Tara from Zeitghostmedia for sending us the free book for review.)
I had to admit that while I was pretty excited to receive another free book for review, I had my doubts when I saw the cover for Infinity. I was worried that it would turn out to be like one of those teen fiction books about hormonal teenagers that fall in love with blood-sucking night-stalkers. (Teen fiction is a path I do not normally tread on.) Thankfully, the background story of Chronicles of Nick differs from that genre, and the synopsis on the jacketflap of Infinity was so entertaining that I could not wait to get started on the series.
Chronicles of Nick is the YA spin-off from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series. It zooms in on the life of fourteen-year-old Nicholas Ambrosius Gautier—that’s Nick for you, dear readers. (His last name is pronounced as Go-shay.) In Infinity, Nick meets Kyrian, a Dark-Hunter who works for an Atlantean god named Acheron. When Kyrian saves Nick from a bunch of low-life adolescents that he called ‘friends,’ Nick is taken under the Kyrian’s wing, in which he agrees to work as Kyrian’s Squire in an important battle between good and evil.
INVINCIBLE picks up where Infinity left off, only this time Nick must face a family of shape-shifters and a football coach who has a knack for murdering fourteen-year-old boys. Although the book continues to have the same funny flavor as Infinity, Invincible takes a more serious turn as Nick finds out that he possesses the darkest power imaginable. If that’s not bad enough, various forces are competing for him—some to train him to fulfill his destiny as the most evil Malachai ever conceived, some to gain his trust only to kill him afterwards, and some, like Kyrian, to help him keep his humanity and use his power for the good of mankind.
A Description of New Orleans. New Orleans is the perfect setting for this series. Considered as the #1 Most Haunted City in the United States, New Orleans was once a vast swamp used as a sacred burial place. Over time, New Orleans housed a variety of deviants that included murderers, thieves, rapists, and other criminals. It became witness to numerous deaths, and the city transformed into a hunting ground for the paranormal.
“Because New Orleans was so far below sea level that buried bodies had a nasty way of returning to the land of the living, the city had been forced to find another way to deal with the departed. Above ground tombs and mausoleums had been erected, which was what led to these areas being referred to as the cities of the dead.” – p. 311
In spite of New Orleans’ reputation as the most haunted city, Nick is not one to believe in the paranormal. Zombies, shape-shifters, and soul-sucking daimons are certainly not part of his vocabulary. Interestingly, Nick is destined to become the Malachai and bring the world down to its knees. So, really, it all comes down to Nick accepting the fact that he lives in a world where paranormal is as normal as a Sunday walk to the park.
The Growing Pains of Adolescence. Sherrilyn Kenyon balances Nick’s growing pains as a fourteen-year-old and his struggles as a youngster being groomed as a powerful demon. In so doing, she is able to portray the tug-of-war between these forces, turning Nick into a kid with adult problems. In spite of the prophecy Nick Gautier is the same as any other teenager.
“Now that he was a full head taller than her, it was weird when she tried to cuddle him like he was a baby. He could be almost seven feet tall like Acheron, and she’d probably still try to pull him into her lap.” – p. 15
Like most, if not all, young boys his age Nick feels embarrassed by his mother’s display of affection. Don’t get him wrong. Nick loves his mother, Cherise, more than anyone in the world. He will not let the slightest insult on her pass without retribution. Both instances—Nick’s embarrassment over his mother’s love and the heroic nature of his own love for his mother—reflect his mentality that he is too grown up for certain things. Whether or not this mentality will work on his advantage, readers would have to find out.
“For a second, he thought he was still hallucinating, as Casey Woods, one of the cheerleaders from his school, stopped in front of him. Up until Nekoda had joined their class, Casey had been the only woman for him… Unfortunately, she hadn’t even noticed he was alive. An impressive feat, since he’d sat right beside and in front of her in several classes over the years. But hey, Casey was Casey, and a girl that popular couldn’t be bothered to notice the poor, awkward scholarship student who’d invaded their ranks.” – p. 124
Again, Nick goes through the same girl problems as other teenage boys. He is at that point where he willingly lets go of the prepubescent phase of his life, and embrace the joys—or perhaps misery—that adolescent life brings. If Nick were allowed to have two of his dreams come true, that would be: 1) provide a good life for his mother; and 2) die with a girlfriend to remember him by. No girl at school seems to pay attention to him, and this girl problem appears to be bigger and more important than being chased by mortents and Fringe guards.
“Almost no one in his school really saw him as anything other than a target to be kicked and bullied. He was used to that.” – pp. 124-125
Part of the reason why Nick refuses to believe the prophecy is the way he is being treated in school. Add to that the way his schoolmates make fun of his mother who works at a strip club to make ends meet for both of them. Why is a lowly scholar like him chosen to become the Malachai? And what of these great powers they speak of? If he really has such great powers, then why are they still poor? Why are they still being ridiculed? And, for the nth time, why can he not make a single girl fall in love with him? (Yes, Nick is hilarious that way.)
The Ripple Effect. The following quote will probably ring a bell to most of you. The quote is too beautiful to be described as overrated. As Mary said in one of our conversations, plots can be rehashed a million times.
“The smallest decisions made had such profound repercussions. One ten-minute wait could save a life… Or end it… One wrong turn down the right street or one seemingly unimportant conversation, and everything was changed. It wasn’t right that each lifetime was defined, ruined, ended, and made by such seemingly innocuous details. A major life-threatening event should come with a flashing warning sign that either said ABANDON ALL HOPE or SAFETY AHEAD. It was the cruelest joke of all that no one could see the most vicious curves until they were over the edge, falling into the abyss below.” – pp. 96-97
The quote reflects a bulk of Nick’s story, and Sherrilyn Kenyon could not have put it any better. While I would like to keep talking about this ripple effect, as I call it, I am afraid I would be revealing too much of the story. If there is one thing you need to remember in this review, keep this quote in mind. It speaks a lot about the characters in the book. Each simple decision made is crucial in how the story unfolds.
Individual Struggles Toward an Ultimate Goal. No man is an island, which is why Nick is not the only one going through some dead-serious struggles. While there are not very many characters from the book that I can name on top of my head, I know four important ones who are also carrying the weight of the world upon their shoulders.
Fooling Around with Destiny. Ambrose, Nick’s uncle who he’s never met nor heard of, is not a man that is easily shaken. No god or demon is any match for the powerful force that he is. He plays a very significant role in Nick’s life. Desperate to change his past, Ambrose toys around with Destiny in hope to right a wrong and stop Nick from fulfilling his destiny. In one of Nick’s conversations with Bubba, Bubba tells him,
“You can’t buy time, Nick. Ever. It’s the only thing in life you can’t get most of, and it’s the one thing that will mercilessly tear you up when it’s gone. It takes no pity on no soul and no heart.” – Bubba, p. 327
Could Ambrose be testament to the fact that two wrongs do not make a right?
Torn Between Feelings and Duty. Caleb and Nekoda have sworn to protect Nick, and each has their own motive for doing so. Both of them have bargains to honor but Caleb likes Nick’s personality more and more as they continue to fight off demons while Nekoda finds herself falling for Nick. (This is reminiscent of Angelina Jolie’s movie Wanted, and the hit TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer.) The task becomes more daunting for both of them as their friendship with Nick deepens. Is there any way to prevent Nick from turning into the Malachai?
Keeping Faith on Humanity. Kyrian Hunter is an immortal warrior who sold his soul to the goddess Artemis to protect humankind. He stalks the night and slays daimons—for the most part. He was victim to a betrayal that caused him to lose his faith on humanity. But as he tells Nick,
“Every time I think that it’s not worth it – that the people in it deserve the misery of their lives – I come across someone who makes me rethink that.” – Kyrian, p. 217
Kyrian disregards the fact that Nick is destined to be the Malachai. When he looks at the boy, he sees only goodness. He sees an innocent soul incapable of bringing the world to its destruction. Yet, he also sees weakness in the heart of the boy. It is this weakness that can turn Nick inward.
“Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your trust in others when that happens. Don’t let them take that from you. (p. 219) By understanding the nuances of the world around you and how to survive the temptations, you can rule anything. Even yourself (p. 304).” – Kyrian
Kyrian can only do so much for the boy. Allow me to use a line from the recently released movie, Sucker Punch: Nick has all the weapons he needs. The question is, is he strong enough not to be corrupted?
Bataan Death March. You might be asking yourselves, does the Bataan Death March have anything significant do with story? The answer is: barely. Haha. I don’t know about you, but it always thrills me to find references to my country, the Philippines. Here is the line from which the Bataan Death March was mentioned in the book:
“He slung his backpack over his shoulder and made the Bataan Death March toward the [principal’s] office.” – p. 189
To give you an idea what it was like during the Bataan Death March, here is a picture:
Now, do you see? When I read it, I thought Sherrilyn Kenyon nailed the scene with such metaphor. It was utterly hilarious. Would you not feel the same way when you are constantly being summoned to the principal’s office? Smart and sarcastic. Two things I would like to see in an author’s writing style.
Afterthoughts. In a nutshell, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s INVINCIBLE has exceeded my expectations. Being a YA fiction, it has already pulled itself away from the norm. In her website (html code here), Sherrilyn Kenyon mentioned that one does not need to read her novels in order. I believe the same rule applies to Chronicles of Nick. In fact, after reading Invincible, I realized that Chronicles of Nick may be likened to a TV series comprised of stand-alone episodes. While it is always good to be familiar with the characters by reading the earlier books, Sherrilyn Kenyon makes it a point to refresh the readers’ memories by including references to the previous book.
Although I had a hard time keeping track of the many characters in the book, I like Sherrilyn Kenyon’s writing style. It is a feat for a writer to switch genres. From romance novels to comic books to YA fiction, she did a great job with Chronicles of Nick. I especially like the struggle of Nick’s character and its effect on the people around him. Also worth mentioning is the sarcasm in the book, which makes the reading experience more entertaining.
How much did I like the book? I actually toyed with the idea of reading the Dark-Hunter novels, even though I found them under the Romance section in Barnes & Noble. I don’t see a conversion anytime soon, but maybe I’ll make an exception with the Dark-Hunters.
“The wealth of a soul is measured by how much it can feel… its poverty by how little.” — Nekoda, p. 115