TASTEBY KATE EVANGELISTA
[✓] Written by a fellow countrywoman
[✓] Not vampires, but flesh-eaters!
THE (STORY)LINE - from Goodreads
At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans. When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn't realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.
SINK OR SWIM?
This review contains mild spoilers. You have been warned.
It has all the elements that makes Twilight Twilight. A society of unnaturally beautiful and perfect paranormal creatures, a love triangle -where the "winner" can be pinpointed from the blurb alone- and the too human heroine in the middle of it all. In short, not my type of book at all. Add those things to the cover and I'm sure I wouldn't have give this book my time of day if it weren't for the fact that a) A compatriot had written it, and b) I won a signed copy from a giveaway hosted by the author herself. As you can imagine, I was ecstatic to receive my prize! I mean, what bookworm doesn't want a free AND signed book? But after the first few pages, I couldn't help but be disappointed.
Don't get me wrong. I am still so incredibly grateful to the God/Fates/Fortuna for my win. It's just... you know how you've been desperately wishing for something and finally get it only to find out that it's not at all what you expected, nay, wanted it to be? Taste was like that for me.
A lot of things went wrong, and sadly, I saw it right on the first quarter of the book.
Especially in this next example; hands-down one of the creepiest line I have ever read:
He raised an eyebrow that I suddenly wanted to trace with the tip of my tongue.
Fine, you're a hormonal teenager in close proximity with the opposite gender. Fine, you got the butterflies. Heck, I understand if you'd want to bite his lips or kiss his eyes, but eyebrows?
But it's not just that. Like many debuts out there, the book fails to act upon the "show not tell" principle. (If I hear about Phoenix' mother one more time, I'll asdfghjkl;) Everything is narrated to the reader, removing the thrill of stumbling through with the narrator. This is something crucial for first person narratives. However, it gets worse. The pieces of information given to us either do not make sense or are completely illogical. We are told Phoenix is really really smart but she can't even solve 300 divided by 50 on her own. We are told that the curfew is strictly enforced when there are no guards in the halls themselves after sunset or that Phoenix conveniently escapes expulsion. We are told that a certain prince has been exiled yet is able to force the crowned prince to bow down to him.
The characters themselves don't act rationally which annoys me to no end. Especially Phoenix. Oh glob, someone help the poor girl... into a boiling cauldron. As I mentioned earlier, our little protagonist is supposedly smart but I see none of it from her thoughts, words and actions. Phoenix exhibits no scientific qualities in her except curiosity. But even then her curiosity can be synonymous to stupidity. It's not even being assertive, it's being bullheaded!
Okay, I get that she wanted to find out about the world that she stumbled upon but why did she risk staying past curfew again even after she felt that her life was in danger with those people? Also, why agree to be a guinea pig to an experiment you aren't even clear about the procedures of? And why oh why push someone into a set up of bubbling chemicals when someone with in right mind would know that those could potentially burn the skin right off the victim or even cause an explosion?
By the way, it's Phoenix who wanted to lick an eyebrow.
Her love interests, Demetri and Luka, are at least much more tolerable. Especially Luka. Demetri is your typical brooding wonder. Demetri isn't particularly remarkable but at least he didn't make me want to chew out his face. Except maybe when he got infected by the insta-love syndrome. And oh! When he went all "violence is never the answer" after, you know shoving his brother a few pages earlier.
On the other hand, Luka is your beautiful boy who seemingly does nothing except laze around and flirt. And yes, I like Luka better but not by much. I can't adore him as much as I want to because he has questionable tastes a.k.a. Phoenix. I'm terribly sad for him because he had so much potential for a character but got wasted away in favor of the romance.
Plot-wise, it wasn't a gem either. Everything was too convenient for Phoenix. Yes, she did get hurt a lot but in terms of solutions, they appeared to quickly as if the puzzle pieces were already in place. Every time I think she's really in trouble, someone swoops in and takes her away which is no fun at all.
In spite of all this, I can say it's not as bad as I made it sound. After all, I was able to finish it. Through all my many complaints and angry notes on my post-its, I still found myself compelled to finish the story. That has to account for something! And again, I do appreciate the little details the author tried to put in. (I LOL-ed at kikaron). As well as the characterizations she was trying to go for most notably in Phoenix case with her vulnerability problems.
I should have trusted my gut. Taste definitely wasn't my type of book. But all in all, it had the potential to be a nice story; if only the execution was done properly. Fans of Twilight and the like might have a better time with this little bundle of words than I did. Meanwhile, I hope Evangelista will be able to respond to my concerns in her upcoming companion novels for Taste, Savor and Fervor (Featuring Luka! Oh glob yes!)
THE VERDICT: Barely swimming. Two out of five stars.