review: Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr. HarperCollins, 2009; 2010 (9780061214738) $8.99 mmpb
Spoiler Warning: Fragile Eternity doesn't work well as stand-alone, so I haven't tried to avoid spoilers for Wicked Lovely (my review.) . It's less necessary to read Ink Exchange first (my review), but I would recommend it.
There have been two constants in every review of Wicked Lovely I've read, including my own:
1) that it was really good
2) that Seth was a little too perfect.
I was excited when I heard that Fragile Eternity concentrated more on Seth's point of view, offering what I hoped would be a chance to see a more human side of someone who, ironically, has become the only primary human character left in the series.
Wicked Lovely ended with Aislinn in a triumphant place: she had accepted being the Summer Queen, but insisted that it be as the Keenan the Summer King's friend and partner, rather than lover, refusing to give up her relationship with the mortal Seth. In Ink Exchange, we saw the triad from a somewhat puzzled outsider's view and it seemed to be working successfully, with Aislinn continuing to live her regular high school life.
But as Fragile Eternity opens, the time of greatest power for the Summer Court is growing closer and the situation is becoming more untenable for everyone in it. Aislinn loves Seth, Keenan loves the Winter Queen, Donia, but both of those relationships have serious drawbacks because of conflicting strengths and powers (or lack thereof.) Summer burns; Winter freezes: no matter how careful they are, Aislinn inevitably hurts Seth, and Keenan and Donia hurt each other. And the powerful pull of Summer is making Aislinn and Keenan all but irresistible to each other, something he embraces, but that she continues to fight. For Seth, there seems to be one solution: to join the world of Faery, to give up his mortal fragility for an eternity with Aislinn. But that is not a choice that can be made with sacrifice and consequences.
It's sad to write this, but I found Fragile Eternity overall quite disappointing. I'd hoped to see a more real Seth, but his personality is almost entirely one note here: his all-encompassing love for Aislinn. As with Ink Exchange, I found there was a lot of build-up ending in a big quick rush--and without spoilers, we're talking about some massive life, heart and soul changes here, that needed more time to properly develop. But perhaps most of all, I missed what had been so strong in the two previous books, what I called "a striking note of female empowerment and choice." Aislinn just waffles through this entire story; I felt for her predicament but got tired of it, and of all the circular conversations about it. And the ultimate conflict... again, it's hard to critique without spoilers, but it's about as far from female empowerment and choice as you can get.
The complicated faery world is still intriguing and there are some powerful moments of tenderness and heartbreak, so I'm certainly not giving up on the series. But what I most went in hoping for was that reading Fragile Eternity wouldn't ruin Wicked Lovely for me... and I'm not sure that I got that.
© 2010 Wendy E. Betts
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