I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 7th 2014
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
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Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.
Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.
Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?
Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.
It’s really hard for me to pick a stance on Exquisite Captive. I don’t feel right saying it’s a bad book because it’s made up of all the things that make a up a good book (rich world building, complicated characters, intricate lore, clear plot arc) but somehow it’s also not exactly what I would call a good book.
Part of the problem is its pacing. This book is slooooooooow. There’s a lot of introspection, waiting for opportunity and infodumps (dear god, the infodumps) that keep the plot from ever feeling active. There’s no urgency. Nalia was getting ready for the final epic showdown and I realized I couldn’t tell the difference between that moment and her going out for the night.
(Oh, is this life or death? I didn’t notice)
As interesting as the complex world-building is, I would’ve appreciated it more if it hadn’t occurred in a billion word chunks every three pages for the entire first half of the book. It felt like getting hit in the brain repeatedly with a solid iron shovel and I mean that as literally as you can mean a figurative statement. Then, just when the infodumps started to wane, these super awesome flashback things started happening. In contrast to the infodumps, these were usually bizarrely brief so they didn’t get a chance to really convey anything. As a result they were disorienting and came across as largely pointless.
The ship suffered a similar fate. Nalia and Raif spent most of the book thinking about each other instead of actually interacting. I think the ship has potential and could be quite lovely but they seem a wee bit bizarrely attached to each other for two people who have only had a handful of real, live conversations. I’m not crying instalove exactly, more undeveloped. I think I could ship it if there were an actual relationship to ship.
Another part of the problem is Nalia and Raif are both Angels (the Buffy version). They’re broody, tortured, noble, overly serious to the point of maybe being physically incapable of quipping. Which, fine, some people like that. I don’t. Stoic, noble types are all well and good but give me a snarky asshole any day.
Speaking of assholes, let’s talk about one of the parts of the book I did quite like. Malek, Nalia’s Master, was by far the most interesting thing about Exquisite Captive for me. At first he seems like he could easily become the third leg in a triangle and go the way of every bad boy love interest before him (he’s tortured but reeeeeeasooons). Instead, Malek’s character serves a much more interesting purpose. Nalia, unlike countless heroines before her, recognizes that even though Malek thinks he loves her (and, to be fair, possibly really does to the best of his ability) he can’t truly love her and be her Master at the same time. (Owning people and really loving them are sort of mutually exclusive as one requires seeing them as an object and the other a person)
Even when she finds herself softening towards him and appreciating the things he does for her on his good days, she always gets her head on straight. She constantly remembers that as long as he has complete and utter control over her, they can never develop a relationship and that just because he’s being nice now, it doesn’t mean it makes up for years of treating her like a horse that needs to be broken.
I’d also like to award massive points for a casual, throwaway reference to the badass warrior class of jinni being generally lesbian and bisexual. It’s so normalized that Nalia was surprised to realize she only appeared to be attracted to guys. It would’ve been better if Nalia was actually bisexual and who knows, there’s still room to go there, but it doesn’t seem like that’ll happen.
Overall, I wasn’t really into Exquisite Captive. However, I do think the book ends at a good place for the series to pick up. There were a few worrying things about the ending View Spoiler »Why oh why must Malek have wormed his way into Nalia and Raif’s quest? Please, please, please do not let this be the launching point of the bad ship Nalia/Malek. « Hide Spoiler but I’m not ready to give up yet. The stage has been set, the info dumped and I have high hopes that things will (finally) start happening.
First of all, love the use of the office gifs. Good work.
Second of all, from the moment I saw the title of this, through pretty much the whole review, it reads like a really corny Adult Paranormal Romance. Like seriously. Take out the YA and add some sexytimes and you have yourself a full blown grownup book.
I don’t think it’s for me, but I did get a laugh out of your review. So thanks!
I was a little nervous about the synopsis but it actually read in a totally different direction. Less corny paranormal romance, more endless history lesson. Also for their to be sex the MCs would’ve had to spend more than 10 pages in each others presence, I think 😐
Glad you like the gif-age!
The slowness was my biggest issue with this book too. Things just took way too long to get started. Looking back at the part where I DNF’d, only a day had passed and I was more than 50% into it. UGH.
SO SLOOOOOOOOOOOOW. Even when the plot things (sort of) started happening it still didn’t pick up. What even.
Buffy the WHAMPire Slayer
Infodumps are like long, smelly trips to the bathroom: best not done in a public forum. Like, say, a book. I mean, nobody wants to be around that. There’s a reason dump is in the word, amirite.
Angels are the worst. They’re like Deans. Good first boyfriends, but as soon as you sex them, they get so evil and undateable. Just don’t go there. MAJOR SEX HANG UPS.
ALWAYS BISEXUAL. THAT IS ALWAYS THE CORRECT ANSWER.
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Ugh I had to DNF this one. I had so many problems with it, infodumps included. It just seemed like the book was getting nowhere and I actually stopped reading a few times to go onto something else instead.
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Rebecca @ The Library Canary
I definitely agree about the slow pace. Oh my gosh, so painfully slow at times. But the world was so elaborate and inventive that I didn’t even mind that much. Raif and Nalia were instalove, in my opinion. Malek was definitely the most interesting part of the book. I can’t wait for more of him, more layers peeled back, etc. And I’m dying to know whether he is ultimately going to turn out good or evil.
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Hallo all-around book nerd. So I realised it had been a while since I comment-bombed you, let alone actually left a comment, and I’m pretty sure that’s a friendship crime on some level. (So I went back to check and I think the last one was on your S-Word post, which, imagine if I had been hit by a car (super tragic) between then and however long it’s going to take to publish this comment (don’t think I’ve forgotten you swallowing up my Heir Chronicles Blog Tour comment EIGHT TIMES, CB. Oh wait, maybe that was the last one I left? I can’t remember if I actually managed to break the impromptu Ellis ban with my PURE DETERMINATION OF WILL.) that would have been a fantastic post to have the honour of Last Ellis Comment.)
As you can see, I have brought my parenthesis game and it is strong as fuck. As you can also see, sense has left the building probably around 5 mins before I started typing. You are welcome.
So anyway, I have a bunch of Meg posts open and unless my browser crashes because of tab overload (very likely tbh) you are going to wake up to a shitload of comments. (According to my calculations it’s 5.30 so if you’re awake GO BACK TO BED MEG THIS IS NOT YOUR TIME (to be awake) (though let me know when you officially switch to a vampire/European schedule).) (That looked like a squished boob.) (Or someone stretching their romp to the side. The dot is the navel.) (YES. WHEN.)
Oh right, I was going to say a thing about the book, too. So yeah, I’m mainly interested in this because you told me the jinn society default is lesbian/bi and hello I am all over that. I think I can do introspective? Though idk the not being unable to switch between a walk in the park and epic battle scenes is worrying. I’ve had that with a few books already that I’m just so bored out of my mind that by the time they’re making ogres into sushi of questionable quality (merely an instructive example. I have no idea whether this book exists.) I’m like oooh you’re doing stuff I should probably pay attention but also nah. Buuut the dynamic with her Master is very intriguing indeed and I love that she wants to go free her brother, but hmmm Angels. Why. (I leave the most insightful comments. It is known.)
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HA. IT PUBLISHED. HA.