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Fated was the first book I had the chance to read by Alyson Noel, and I was really excited for it for a few reasons - mostly because of the amazing-sounding synopsis, absolutely gorgeous cover, and those names: Daire and Dace. How adorable, right? And Fated started off really promisingly, and I settled into it thinking I was going to enjoy it a great deal; unfortunately, I ended up feeling as if this is, regrettably, one of those books that despite the fantastic premise, never lives up to its potential.
First I want to talk about what I DID like: the mythos, woven into Fated in the form of legends and wisdom imparted by Paloma, Daire's grandmother. Daire's mother sends her to live with Paloma - a woman Daire has never met - when Daire's visions become too much to handle, and she is labeled as mentally unstable. Paloma is able to help Daire, and to teach her, and I thought she was a terrific character and mentor, and I loved watching the relationship between Paloma and Daire develop. The New Mexico setting came alive in Fated, and I look forward to reading more about the Santos family's heritage. I also liked the rivalry between the Santos and Richter families, and am curious to see where that goes in the future books in this series, especially between Cade and Dace.
Unfortunately that's where my enjoyment stopped, due to the writing style. Alyson Noel isn't a bad writer. But it's as if she deliberately chooses the oddest ways of phrasing her sentences. I don't have Fated with me anymore but an example is, instead of having Daire say "I see my mother standing in the kitchen, looking at me. I know from the expression on her face that I'm in trouble," it was, "I see my mother standing in the kitchen, looking at me. Knowing from the expression on her face that I'm in trouble." At first I thought it was an odd technique we'd see scattered throughout the book, but no, it was like that throughout Fated, and after awhile, that started to drive me insane with annoyance, and finally completely jolted me out of the story several times, making it more and more difficult to connect with the characters and story. After that, as much as I tried to like Fated, I just wanted it to be over.
Finally, the romance took me by surprise, and not in a good way. From some of the lead-up to Daire and Dace's interactions, I was hoping for something more...epic, really. Daire's dreams led me to believe I would end up rooting for her and Dace as a couple, but instead, all I felt was let-down. I hope in the other books in this series, that Noel spends a LOT of time developing their relationship, because as it stands, they definitely feel like insta-love to me, and their shared dreams feel like a cheap plot device. I'd also like to see a great deal of character growth on Daire's end, because she came across (to me) as a spoiled kid throughout most of Fated. Something does happen near the end that makes me think we'll see her grow up some; if not, I'm not sure I'll continue past the second book, Echo.
Overall, there were some elements of Fated that I really quite enjoyed, but not enough to make me love this one.