Friday, June 27, 2014

Shimmer by Paula Weston

Gaby thought her life couldn't get more complicated.
She's almost used to the idea that she's not the teenage backpacker she thought she was. She can just about cope with being one of the Rephaim—a 139-year-old half-angel—whose memories have been stolen. She's even coming to grips with the fact that Jude, the brother she's mourned for a year, didn't die at all.
But now Rafa—sexy, infuriating Rafa—is being held, and hurt, by Gatekeeper demons. And Gaby has to get the bitterly divided Rephaim to work together, or Rafa has no chance at all.
It's a race against time—and history. And it may already be too late. 
I have been dying to get my hands on the 3rd book of the Rephaim series ever since Haze officially turned the Rephaim series into my favourite angel series ever. My expectation for Shimmer was crazy high, I missed those characters and so needed to hang out again. I was coming off the back off a major book slump when Shimmer finally arrived -- making my hopes even higher for the perfect reading escape (also placing pressure on Shimmer to deliver). You guys, it 100% does not disappoint. 
Shimmer starts minutes after where Haze left off -- and  things are straight-up intense and complicated when the outcasts and the Sanctuary Rephaim are reunited. Decade old tensions are coupled with immediate danger, torn loyalties, serious shock and high emotions. Shimmer takes us back to the Garrison where Gaby was once held as prisoner, but this time she's more sure of herself.  I love how much Gaby has grown as a character over the series and she really comes into her own in this instalment. She's fierce despite her exhaustion, brave despite her fears and relentless in standing up to face so much opposition on all sides. She's loyal and cares deeply and you can feel her fragile edges under it all and I just want everything to work out okay for her. I also loved finding out more about past-Gaby (Gabe) from her Sanctuary friends -- and it's nice to see so much of it is better than she was hoping for. I am also loving revisiting old Sanctuary memories -- like Gaby and Rafa's adrenalin junky motorbike days <3

Shadows opened with Gaby discovering the mystery of her past, and Haze hinted that those secrets were tangled in something far, far greater than just Gaby's immediate world. Now Shimmer really starts to crack open the whole Rephaim history and it's not just Gaby's world that has been rocked but all the Rephaim's, outcast and Sanctuary alike. Revelations gain momentum and seeds of doubt snowball into serious life-changing doubts and realisations.  
Weston manages to take crazy, complicated tensions between the myriad of characters and keep them all in balance -- all while unveiling secrets and ramping up mysteries. I love how with insight revealed it takes me back to earlier days (books) and shines a little light from a different perspective regarding characters motivations and relationships. It's a complex and intriguing group of characters and even the ones I didn't really feel that sympathetic towards are somehow worming their way into my affections. I love Gaby and Rafa is (clearly) amongst my fave YA love interests ever and Jude is incredible (and he also has some intriguing sexual tension happening with another Rephaim ;)). But it's the whole cast of characters that have me bewitched. Micah and Daisy (definitely looking forward to more of these two in #4), Zach and Ez, Jason and Maggie, even Taya and Mya and the Pan Beach Butler boys and co -- all make me feel like I'd love to hang out with the gang (although I'd need to brush up on my fighting skills -- non-stop sparring and fighting with that bunch of proud and kick-arse angels).
The tension is palpable and the pacing is sharp making Shimmer the most fierce and kick-arse book in the series so far. Zarael and his crew are formidable and unrelenting, seemingly even more nightmarish and ever-present than before. While the pacing had my heart thumping and those pages flying I missed some of those quieter moments where you can just breathe a little. Weston knows how to unleash all hell and then somehow take it up a notch, twist it around and flip it inside out. This time I felt more grounded as Jude is alongside Gaby -- he has her back, straight up. The dynamic between them is tight and I loved all their scenes together, so much. 
Rafa is hot and enigmatic in Shadows, damn sexy in Haze and in Shimmer he takes it up another level. So, fair warning -- prepare yourselves :).These two, Gaby and Rafa <3. All that slow burn sexual tension of the first two books really pays off and I have a feeling the best is yet to come.        
Bonus features: Weston has this really fun (and entirely useful) who's who of her world -- little mini character bios -- making it easy for readers to become reacquainted with the characters (and to refer back to if need be). Shimmer also opens with this genius little prologue where Gaby brings the reader up to speed covering the events of Shadows and Haze. 
Bonus feature I would have loved: Sneak peek of the first chapter of Burn (haha, joking.. kinda, not really...;)). THE ENDING... it's not a cliffhanger, per se, but it is the perfect set-up for book 4 (the series conclusion) and if I was dying to have Shimmer, I am even more so for Burn. The last scene just gave me such a rush -- and I am desperate to pick up where it leaves off -- Burn is going to begin with a real game changer and I am so along for the ride. 
I haven't been this pumped for a series since those early Hunger Games days when I needed to get my hands on Mockingjay (and now The Rephaim series supersedes that). I love this series immensely -- for the characters, the up-all-night addictive experience, the slow burn sexual tension, the secrets and mysteries and twists, the kick-arse, real-stakes action and for that unique Aussie vibe.
I am completely enamoured with this series and these characters and absolutely recommend Shimmer - one of my fave reads of the year so far (and Shadow and Haze, for those who have not yet started -- bump them up your TBR!).  
Shimmer is available now in Australia
(will be available in the UK July 3 -- and the US and Canada next year) 
Shimmer @ Text Publishing (with links to ebook purchases and preview of the first two chapters)
Paula Weston's blog

Thanks to Text Publishing for my review copy