Friday, April 27

Review: Doubletake by Rob Thurman

It has become a tradition for me to buddy review Ms Thurman's books here on Breezing Through... and I'm glad to announce that the latest in the Cal Leandros series, Doubletake, will be no exception! :) Joining me today are my two usual accomplices: Hilcia from Impressions... and Leslie from Leslie's Psyche! Thank you very much for joining me, ladies! And I'm just glad it didn't take me a year to put this one together... just a month :)

Find out how much we liked Doubletake below! Enjoy!

Doubletake by Rob Thurman
published by ROC (New American Library) in March 2012
Half-human/half-monster Cal Leandros knows that family is a pain. But now that pain belongs to his half-brother, Niko. Niko's shady father is in town, and he needs a big favor. Even worse is the reunion being held by the devious Puck race-including the Leandros' friend, Robin- featuring a lottery that no Puck wants to win.

As Cal tries to keep both Niko and Robin from paying the ultimate price for their kin, a horrific reminder from Cal's own past arrives to remind him that blood is thicker than water-and that's why it's so much more fun to spill.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros series, Book #7

Nath: Wow, it’s hard to believe Doubletake is the 7th installment of the series!! It seems like yesterday since we all started this series LOL.

So ladies, what did you think of Doubletake?

Leslie: I had some very strong emotions while reading Doubletake, not all good. I was mad, sad and in shock. I won't say more for now...

Hilcia: I was a bit ambivalent about Doubletake. As always I loved the characters and the action gripped me, but found that I had quite a few concerns when I turned that last page.

Nath: Can’t wait to hear your concern, Hils! And ha, I hear you Leslie! Ms Thurman sure didn’t hold back her punches in this one! But I think that’s what made Doubletake such a great book! One that I really had a great time reading :)

So where should we start? Perhaps with Cal since he’s the main character :) Poor Cal, still seems to have a split personality ^_^;The whole “new” Cal was confusing at times!

Leslie: The new Cal vs Old Cal reminded me of Blackout. In Blackout we had the "normal" Cal working in a diner vs Auphe Cal fighting monsters. Now we have Grimm being the "what might have been" vs the Cal being raised by Niko. But you're talking about new Cal being Cal with the Auphe/gating abilities being suppressed vs old Cal who was teetering on the edge before Rafferty fixed him right? Is it any wonder Cal is a bit schizo? LOL

Nath: Yep @_@

Hilcia: This whole "new Cal vs. old Cal" bit was a bit confusing for a while, particularly with the voices going back and forth. In that I agree with Nath. Eventually this whole thing was cleared away and what I got out of it is that Cal supposedly found a balance between Cal and Caliban in Blackout -- we knew that already. In Doubletake, instead of being ashamed of the monster, Cal embraces his inner monster as well as his humanity, and supposedly has better control over Caliban (the monster). That’s where I see the difference.

Leslie: It seemed to me that Grimm brought out that acceptance of the monster in Cal. Accepting his Auphe side worked as an advantage when battling Grimm. Niko’s father emphasized the fact that while Niko and Cal might be brothers, Cal was also part monster while Niko had a human father. Which we learned isn’t always good since humans can be monsters too. I really liked how it played out showing that family isn’t always just about blood with Niko’s loyalty firmly with Cal, his half-brother instead of being loyal to his father. Actions speak louder than words has never been more true than with Niko’s relationship with his father.

Nath: I think you nailed it, Hils. I’m still bit @_@, LOL, mostly because the voices of the different Cal weren’t distinct enough. However, I’m going to disagree with you, Leslie. I think Cal acceptance of his monster side had nothing to with Grimm. I feel it happened at the end of Blackout when he saw the other half-Auphe in the cages.

It’s good that you’re bringing up family, because it was clearly the theme of this book. It’s always been about family, about brotherhood between Niko and Cal, but it was nice to see the influx of family feelings from other sources. Cal has always felt lucky that Niko has been on his side, but it seems to me Niko was also happy to have Cal as his family... because his parents? All I can say is poor Niko :(

Hilcia: This whole story was about family for our characters: Niko, Cal, Robin. It's interesting because in some ways I also felt that this storyline was a rethread. Family, family, family. I'm beginning to worry that Thurman is circling back to the beginning, and starting all over again with this series. Family, Cal losing it slowly, Georgina, the Auphe, except that our main characters Cal and Niko are more mature and can deal with situations better this time around. But think about it! Thurman takes away Cal's ability to gate and then he gets it back, the Auphe are all wiped out and then return (in another form), Cal goes too dark, lightens up and progressively goes darker again, plus we dealt with the family issues for Promise, Cal, Niko (with the Rom), and Robin with Hob before. And although this book had some great details, it's a rethread and I'm getting worried.

Nath: Nod nod, it’s one of my worries as well. It seems Ms Thurman has undone everything Cal and Niko have gone through and accomplished so far. I understand that the Auphe is the biggest threat possible for Cal and Niko, but she needs a different kind of villain to make readers sit at the edge of their seats. Right now, it seems we will walk down the same line in the next book; the storyline has a sense of deja-vu.

Hilcia: Nath, you got the sense of deja vu for the future books, and I had the sense of deja vu while reading Doubletake. I kept wanting to go back to our reviews to see exactly where I'd read this before! Then decided to wait until after I was done with the book (and the review) to do so. But that sense of having been through these same paths with our boys before was there from the moment I read that line: "Family... it is a bitch."

Leslie: Yes it did feel a little too much like a repeat of what’s been covered before. I don’t expect Thurman to move away from the family focus since Cal and Niko are at the center of the series but I do think the emphasis has become a little too strong and could maybe be taken back a notch. It’s already been established that Cal and Niko are as tight as two brothers can be and they trust Robin completely. I’m still not sure about Promise, one wrong step and she could be outta there. I think the brothers would give Robin a lot more leeway before cutting him loose

Nath: I can’t imagine Promise getting the boot. I feel the guys need a female influence LOL. But more important, Niko needs someone he can rely on and they have gone through so much already. think Promise will remain there no matter what.

What did you think of Grimm? I think he’s an interesting villain and his hatred for Cal is totally justified. I would have been happy if Ms Thurman had stopped there instead of having Grimm building an army to overtake the world, because his motives to go after Cal would have been different than the first wave of Auphe. By the way, are Cal and Grimm psychically linked in your opinion? They seem to share certain dreams... Also, I wonder why Cal didn’t sense Grimm before? Seems like Grimm has been on his tail since Nevah Landing. Does it have to do with proximity?

Hilcia: I do think that there was some sort of psychic link between Grimm and Cal. At the beginning of the story Cal began thinking the same thoughts that Grimm was thinking "Family... it is a bitch!" And then later on, he had the same dream that Grimm had... it might be that Cal has inherited some sort of Auphe psychic ability? Don't know.

Leslie: The whole Auphe sensing each other must have had some effect on Cal and Grimm. I do think it's possible we have not seen all of Cal's Auphe abilities he even he doesn't know everything he's capable of. Grimm embraced his abilities so he might have been able to project his thoughts to Cal or like Hils said, Cal has some psychic abilities when it comes to other Auphe or half-Auphe.

Hilcia: It seems like we got carried away, so let’s go back to family. What did you ladies think of Kalakos as a character, and of Niko's reaction to him? Now, that part of this story is the one that really made me sad.

Leslie: Kalakos was interesting. I didn’t trust him but was surprised with how far he had gone to achieve his goal. His heart was totally black. Poor Niko. Do you think Niko will now wonder if he might become more like his father? Possibly train even hard and become even more Zen so he doesn’t go down that path? It’s similar to what Cal’s gone through with worrying that his Auphe side might takeover.

Nath: I hope Niko won't doubt himself. Throughout his life, he’s shown how different he was from his parents. Cal and himself are living proofs that there is a difference between nurture and nature.

I have to say, I didn't expect much about Kalakos, but overall I was happy with how Ms Thurman handled this part of the story, because it really fit the Leandros brothers :) At the end of the day, it's still the two brothers and Goodfellow and Promise... as it should be.

Hilcia: I guess Kalakos didn't fool any of us, just like he didn't really fool the boys. :) The extent of his evil doing’s another thing altogether and the Vayash "burden" really caught me by surprise! I was very sad for Niko throughout the whole story though, and was devastated for him at the end. A parent is a parent and the outcome was horrific. I do think it should affect him somehow. I don't know how, but he's such a stoic and straight up kind of guy that we'll have to wait and see. The one line that stands out for me regarding this subject comes from Cal: "My brother hates..." I wish we could have experienced some of Niko's thoughts through this time.

When it comes to Kalakos, (besides his evil nature) his name caught my attention. He's Rom, yet he and Niko have Greek-based names. Then Thurman focused on Hephaestus and Janus as villains and brought up Achilles, all Greek and Roman mythological figures. Through Goodfellow, the pucks (Pan), Greek mythology is already a part of this series, but again she expanded on it by making the main villain part of this mythology. Hephaestus is the Greek god of technology and Pan the Greek god of nature, natural enemies. Achilles is a human Greek hero, which is perfect for Thurman’s purposes, and Janus was the Roman god of "beginnings and transitions." I think that was a rather extensive and interesting usage of mythology in this particular book. Very apropos.

So far Thurman has introduced so many different creatures and mythologies, Egyptian culture included, that I'm used to it by now, and I really enjoyed the use of the mixed mythologies in Doubletake. I am wondering if or when she will go back to some of those other entities she has introduced, or if they will just be part of the background. For example: what happened to that super secret human society? Where's the Kin in all this? Just wondering.

Nath: They all need to regroup and restructure after meeting Cal LOL. It's actually interesting that you bring up the extent of Greek mythology in this book, Hils. I didn't really pay attention. I feel that a lot of UF series nowadays are mixing up so many mythologies, but it is indeed interesting. Wonder if she'll take it a step farther. Sigh, that’s what she should do instead of bringing back the Auphe!

What I really liked about Kalakos appearance is that we found out more about Niko’s background and I'm glad we got some explanations as where Niko's warrior prowess comes from. Archilles’ descendant! Isn’t that awesome? But I’m wondering, it's always been said that Robin was attracted to Niko at first because he reminded him of Ishiah... but it seems that Robin actually knew that Niko resembled Achilles... wonder if there's something else in there :)

Leslie: I'm like Nath and don't pay much attention to the different mythologies and how they relate. But seeing how you linked up the Greek mythology is very creative. I'll need to pay closer attention from now on. As for the Kin, my guess is that they smelled the Auphe in Grimm, saw the destruction of Janus and decided to stay out of town for a while. I don't think we've seen the last of Delilah. *sigh* I don't like her with Cal.

I think Doubletake would have been a perfect book to have both Cal and Niko's POV. It would have been interesting to hear what Niko was thinking when Kalakos helped save Cal. Did he hold out any hope that maybe Kalakos really wanted a relationship? It felt a bit off balance with only Cal's POV since Niko's father played such a pivotal role in the story.

Nath: I would have loved to hear Niko's POV... but I think in such a book, it would really have been difficult for Ms Thurman to capture it.

Hilcia: I don't like Delilah for Cal either. So far, I don't like anyone for Cal, lol!

Nath, Thurman has done an excellent job using multiple POVs in one book (Roadkill), so I think she would have done the same in this book if she had chosen to give readers Niko's perspective as to his feelings for his father. But... that's water under the bridge, lol! It was just a wish on my part.

Nath: I do agree that Ms Thurman did a great job at using multiple POVs in past books, but I think there was so much going on in this book, it would have detracted and I don’t think Doubletake would have had the same impact.

Something else I enjoyed in Doubletake was the action :) It was pretty much awesome as usual :) But I think it took a backseat to all the storylines going on.

Hilcia: Really? I thought it was pretty much non-stop. Even while they were dealing with all the storylines, they were fighting and getting hurt left and right. Grimm was relentless and so was Janus.

Leslie: I thought Thurman did a good job keeping a balance between the action and the storylines. My only real complaint was a little too much time spent on Cal's introspective musings. It began to feel too repetitive and I did begin to wonder if the purpose was for readers who have not read any or all of the previous books.

Nath: The action was non-stop, but it was always in short sequences to me - except for the fight with Hephaestus. As Leslie said, there was a lot of Cal’s musings and they seemed much longer, slower.

Speaking of Hephaestus, I thought his feud with Robin about Aphrodite was hilarious LOL. And I really liked that Robin went back... It really shows how much of a friend Robin has become to the Leandros brothers.

Hilcia: Ah Robin! As always, I loved Robin Goodfellow in this installment. The Panic was fun! I enjoyed it, but it was too short and with not enough substance. It did serve to clarify some great points about Robin and the pucks though and that's great for his character. I liked that Robin was not always the easy going guy in this installment and that a few times he was actually scary.

Leslie: I loved seeing that other side of Robin! I don’t think he could have survived as long as he has without having that scary side to him. The whole Puck reunion was a bit of a letdown. After the build-up, I was expecting there to be more to it but it was over rather quickly and that was that. It was funny while it lasted though. :)

Nath: I agree the Puck reunion was a bit of a let-down, simply because it wasn't longer and not better integrated in the storyline... but what there was, I really enjoyed LOL. It was so funny to see Cal being tricked :P Although it’s interesting that Cal seems to be able to recognize older pucks.

I always like discovering new information about Robin and I thought it was awesome to learn that Robin was the second puck to walk the Earth LOL. By the way, the Hob that died... was that the real Hob? I have to say, I'm getting a bit confused ^_^;

Leslie: Yep, the Hob that died was the first original Puck.

***HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD, read at your own risk!***

Nath: So I kept the best for the end, Georgiana! What did you two think about it? It was such a shock! Though it does answer what's been going on with her, because I was wondering.

Leslie: I think Georgiana will be back. Yeah, I know you two probably think I'm being stubborn about this (and I am, just a little) but she vowed, she'd find a way.
"I'll find a way to change it. I don't care if it's never been done. The world can't stop me. No one can stop me."
page 157 of 339
I think both her and Grimm, of course, will be back.

Hilcia: Georgie's scene as seen through Grimm bothered me. It now seems that we are getting Georgie back at some point in the story, as a ghost? Really? A ghost of some sort? She was a coward with Cal, but supposedly redeemed herself by facing Grimm and now she'll "be back" to help Cal. Sigh... If that's the case, I won't be happy about that. Sorry. I wish she would have redeemed herself with Cal personally and not as some sort of ghostly, insubstantial being. I wouldn't have minded that at all. However, I do like that Thurman went back to Georgie. Hers was a loose thread that I wondered if it was going to be left hanging.

Nath: No, no, no!! No ghost! I mean, there’s going to be a lot of drama surrounding Georgie once Cal learns of her death, the last thing we need is her coming back as a ghost... or being reincarnated now that I think about it. She was killed for a reason...

Leslie: It’s interesting that you thought Georgie might come back as a ghost. I didn’t go in that direction but it’s certainly possible. I hope not though, shades of Vishous & Jane we do not need. I was thinking she might turn to black magic and use a spell to either alter the past or do some time traveling. But I would expect her to come back as either herself or possibly inhabit someone else’s body. I do think she’ll come back in some form, just not sure what or who it might be.

Hilcia: I don't know Leslie. Georgie is dead. Unless Thurman comes up with a way to resurrect the dead in this series, Georgie's not coming back as herself. She has to be some sort of ghost or something "not human." Hopefully nothing like Salome, lol! I just wish she had made her peace with Cal in person before meeting her "destiny."

Nath: LMAO!! Oh gosh Hils! I can't imagine anything like Salome LOL. I have to say, I wonder what was Georgie's future when Cal asked her to look.

Leslie: By the way ladies, I just found out that Rob Thurman tweeted about Georgina ~
"For the last time to all those who thought Georgina died in Doubletake, you didn't read the chapter closely enough."
So now I need to re-read that chapter and of course now I can't find my copy of Doubletake! LOL

Nath: Oh crap, no! I mean, in that case, why even bother with the whole scene? Sigh. I’m going with the “she’s dead, boohoo” LOL.

Hilcia: I’ll have to re-read as well. I can’t believe that the whole scene was so unclear that all three of us “missed” whatever it is that we missed. I’ll go with the fact that she’s dead ( “boohoo” indeed)... since that was my initial take on the scene, and see where Thurman goes with this character. And hmm..I guess we were all right and Georgie will be back! (Leslie) We just didn’t know it would be so soon. Muahahah!

Nath: One thing I just don't get is why Georgie basically let Grimm kill her. She saw the future and knew Grimm would kill her and she still went knowingly? How is that going to help Cal? I find the whole thing a bit stupid and all she achieved was burdening Cal. Like Hils, I’d rather seen her facing Cal. I don't know how Ms Thurman will turn this around... For now, I find Georgie's sacrifice to be worthless.

Leslie: I think Georgie allowed Grimm to kill her because she hadn’t figured out yet how to stop him or because she had figured out but it had to happened that way in order for her to come back. Maybe she made a deal with the devil and gave up her soul to come back to Cal. In this series it’s hard to say.

Nath: I’m still bummed out to find out she’s not dead :( So what, Grimm is keeping her in the cave?!? Now, I feel like no matter what happened, whoever is introduced, Cal will end up with Georgie because he owes her... And I still don’t like her for Cal!!! I thought her death was good news for me because it meant Cal would have a new love interest. I even believed she was introduced in this book! Remember the lady that looked like him at the black market. She’s definitely not simply a woman and the fact she knows Trixa and Goodfellow makes her intriguing to me :) By the way, I was happy to see Trixa mentioned! I really wish there’ll be a cross-over between the two series in the future and it feels like Ms Thurman just opened the door wide :)

Leslie: Well, I’m glad Georgie didn’t die but I’ve been a Georgie fan from the beginning.:) I do agree with Hils that the chapter/scene with Georgie and Grimm must not have been very clear if all three of us interpreted it wrong. (I still need to re-read it.) I was thinking the woman Robin knew, and was a little afraid of, in the black market is possibly another Trickster. That was an odd moment but I agree, I like how the series link.

Nath: That’s what I think as well, that she’s a Trickster. I just hope she’s not Trixa’s mother LOL.


Nath: Well I think it’s time to wrap up this looong review LOL. What grade are you giving Doubletake? For me, this was an A- read :) I just thoroughly enjoyed myself even though it seems we’re back to square one.

Leslie: I’m going with an A- too. It’s not my favorite of the series but I still enjoyed it and can’t wait for more Leandros brothers.

Hilcia: Well Nath, Leslie, for me Doubletake was definitely a mixed bag. I loved the characters and the action, and as always I got caught up in the story. Unfortunately, throughout this whole book I couldn’t shake the sense of deja vu and somehow this story did not feel fresh to me. In the end it felt like a case of “been there, done that,” or a bit of a rehash. So my final grade is a B-.

Nath: Awwww, a B-? Although I totally understand where you’re coming from Hils, Doubletake gripped me enough I could overlook its shortcomings :)

Before ending this review, I want to thank you both again, Leslie and Hilcia, for buddy reviewing Doubletake with me! Hope you’ll agree to buddy review the next one too! :) I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the next book to see where Ms Thurman is taking us!


Hilcia said...

Lord, we had a lot to say about this book! LOL! I know, I probably could have gone on forever.

As always it was a pleasure discussing this book (and this series) with both of you.

I can't wait for the next book to see what Thurman has in store for us. And of course, more Niko, Cal, AND Robin. ;P

Nath, thank you for all your hard work putting this mammouth saga of a review together. Awesome job, as always!

Samantha said...

Great review ladies! I def. need to pick up this series soon.

Leslie said...

Echoing what Hils said, thanks so much for putting this all together Nath!

I love talking about Cal, Niko and Robin with you guys. Even though we don't always agree on everything (Georgie LOL)it's still such fun to share our love of the Leandros brothers!

Samantha, you should definitely give this series a try!

nath said...

Hilcia - No problem Hils!I'm happy someone wants to discuss these books with me! I'm definitively looking forward to the next book. Wonder where the story is going...

Samantha - I think you would enjoy this series, Samantha! You've been on a UF/paranormal kick lately. This one is interesting because of the relationship between the two brothers... it's really a different dynamics than other series.

Leslie - Well you know, I think Hils and I are the exception when it comes to Georgie :) I mean, if Ms Thurman was bothered enough to tweet it...