Book Reviews

Review — Unborn by Amber Lynn Natusch

Unborn by Amber Lynn Natusch (Unborn, #1). | My copy: eGalley, ~256 pages, 47 North (Amazon Publishing), 2014. | Source: The publisher via NetGalley. | View on Goodreads here.

*I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, 47 North!


Born into mystery. Shackled to darkness…

Khara has spent centuries discovering everything about the Underworld―except her place in it. But when she’s ripped from her home, solving the riddle of her origins becomes more important than ever. With evil stalking her through the dark alleys of Detroit, she finds salvation from an unlikely source: a group of immortal warriors sworn to protect the city. Khara needs their help to unravel the tangled secrets of who and what she is—secrets many seem willing to kill for. But time is running out, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer necessity binds her to an arrogant fallen angel.

Can their shaky alliance withstand that which threatens her, or will her soul fall victim to the unholy forces that hunt her―those that seek the Unborn?

From the author of the bestselling Caged series comes a pulse-pounding new series of supernatural romance.

The review:

I had numerous problems with Unborn. It was a very interesting concept, but the execution… oh boy. Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

I was intrigued because of the Greek mythology that the book incorporates (I am a total mythology nerd), but the plot got confusing very early on and I couldn’t keep everything straight because of the multitude of massive (and I mean massive) info dumps in the form of conversations/dialogue among the characters. Page after page of a conversation with characters explaining things, asking questions, having them answered, having them elaborated on, etc. I couldn’t remember anything, the dialogue info dumps were that long.

I quite disdained the clunky prose and the use and overuse of certain words (“ascertain” being one). Initially I conceived it to be a character trait, seeing as Khara happened to grow up in Hades, a wholly different world from Detroit, Michigan. But the writing technique was also used in dialogue from Khara’s brothers, the sons of Ares, so I concluded that it was not a character quirk, but a writing/voice peculiarity. And it was uncommonly distracting. I at one occasion contemplated if the author just had a thesaurus handy for every single specimen of vocabulary, and substituted each word for a bigger, more obscure one. It did not even perpetually have to make sense. It was that distracting. I also do not think anyone ever utilized contractions. Ever. And that seems hella inconceivable in this day and age, particularly when it comes to a coterie of five young men. Lastly, eight words were oftentimes used when, for instance, five would do. The decision to use extra words than were necessary to get a point across made this novel feel like an antiquated relic.

Guys. On the above paragraph I took out contractions and used my thesaurus to choose the biggest-sounding word that made “relative” sense and used more words than necessary. It’s absurd, right? This is kind of an example of what the entire book was like… I really don’t want to be mean and bash the book, but the writing just did not impress me at all, sad to say.

Let’s talk about Khara. Daughter of Ares and, I think, a dark angel. For some reason, her mom hid her from Ares and sent Khara to the Underworld where she became Hades’ ward. Khara grew up in the Underworld, where she was supposedly safe, but for some reason (which I totally forget, not gonna lie) is yanked outta there and winds up in Detroit, in the human world… where she’s discovered by her brothers, sons of Ares. They’re like a paranormal police, and they’re definitely bad-ass. The only problem is that Khara isn’t bad-ass.

Because Khara is an Unborn, it seems like a whole bunch of people/creatures/gods want her. Supposedly she’s powerful or something (I really didn’t pay much attention because the info dumps were so freaking long and a chore to get through; I just didn’t care after a few pages of people nattering on). And thus, she’s in danger seemingly every moment. The boys try to keep her under house arrest, to put it bluntly. There are magical wards around the house and her brothers are all superb fighters, so Khara should be safe until they all figure out what to do about the predicament, right? Well, not if Khara acts stupid because of either 1) Breathers (who suck out your soul) that affect the darkness in her and call her to them and she actually tries to go to them because she can’t control herself, or 2) because she’s stupid. I don’t like reading about protagonists who don’t fight their own battles or at least try to solve their problems effectively. The whole book Khara was being protected by her brothers, or bossed around by them. It was frustrating because I wanted her to kick some Breather-butt (well, she does, but gets her neck saved pretty soon in by a guy, of course). Basically, Khara was a disappointing heroine. I’m not even sure I’d call her a heroine.

Her brothers were an interesting bunch. I loved Kierson, the humorous, over-eager one. I liked Drew, the leader and the family’s rock. I warmed up to Casey, the angry, bitter one. I thought Pierson, Kierson’s twin, was bland like cardboard. Sean could have been interesting if he’d been in more of the story. And Oz was the bad-boy, the “fallen one”, who I honestly thought was a jerk 98% of the time. They made for a very colorful cast, if a bit cliche. Khara’s chemistry with them all was… as to be expected. She’s like Kierson’s little sister he’s taken under his wing, like Drew’s beloved sister he can’t stand to have anything happen to, and like Casey’s annoying sister who he loves but never lets show. Oz, as predicted, is Khara’s romantic interest. He’s not a demigod like the others, but is a fallen angel. And a total jerk. (Did I mention that?) I thought he and Khara had some nice initial chemistry, as their hatred for each other had a lot of sexual tension in it, but as the story progressed I was less and less interested in their relationship. There was no spark between them, and actually very little romance. By the end it was more of Oz realizing he really cared about Khara. I can’t decide if the lack of romance was a good or bad thing. Good because it’s nice to read stories that don’t feature romance, but bad because the story was kinda dry and maybe some steaminess and couple-banter would have been fun. I don’t know.

I didn’t hate Unborn, but I didn’t really like it overall. I liked a few aspects and disliked many others. Do I recommend it? Not necessarily. It just wasn’t the book for me. ♦

So tell me…

Have you read Unborn? If so, what did you think? If not, what are your thoughts after reading this review? What was the last book featuring mythology that you read? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!

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