Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Eternal City by Paula Morris

This review was written by: C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: May 2015
Pages: 304
Stars: 2/5

Official Summary:
From master of suspense Paula Morris comes a tale of gods and goddesses, thrilling romance, and mystery set in present-day Rome.

Laura Martin is visiting Rome on a class trip, and she's entranced by the majestic Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon. . . . Everything in this city seems magical.

That is, until the magic seems to turn very dark.

Suddenly, statues of Cupid and ancient works of art come to life before her eyes. Earthquakes rumble and a cloud of ash forms in the sky. A dark-eyed boy with wings on his heels appears and gives her a message. Laura soon realizes she is at the center of a brewing battle -- a battle between the gods and goddesses, one that will shake modern-day Rome to its core.

Only she and her group of friends can truly unravel the mystery behind what is happening. As tensions mount and secret identities are revealed, Laura must rely on her own inner strength to face up to what may be a fight for her life.

Acclaimed author Paula Morris brings the ancient world to vivid life in this unstoppable tale of friendship, love, and the power of the past.

My Thoughts:
This is one review that I have been struggling with, especially because I have mixed feelings about The Eternal City. I had such high expectations for this book, and I really wanted to love it. However, it just wasn't what I was expecting. By the number of stars that I've given this particular book, I don't want anyone to think that the story is absolutely terrible--it just didn't suit my tastes. Consequently, I am positive that there are readers out there that would enjoy The Eternal City. Sadly, I am just not one of them.

There are exactly three things that drew me to this book: it's cover, it's summary, and the short excerpt of the story located on the very back of the book itself. Personally, I think that every reader is guilty of judging a book based upon its cover art, and I am no exception. The cover is the very first thing that I saw, and my immediate thought was that it was absolutely gorgeous! It looked as if the art was depicting a book filled with mystery and magic, and I had to pick it up. Then, I read the short summary on the jacket, and I thought that the story was a brilliant concept. I love books that are similar to Percy Jackson and anything that focuses on fantasy, myths, legends, and ancient gods. Plus, the excerpt featured Mercury (the Roman messenger god) and he sounded pretty cute. As a result, I thought I held in my hands a female driven story similar to Percy Jackson that featured some very gorgeous Roman deities.

The first letdown was that the characters in this book didn't feel relatable or likeable in any way. This is a YA novel, and all of the main characters are in high school. However, they all seemed extremely immature and unrealistic, and I didn't feel a connection with any of them. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the main character was female.  In my experience, books with female protagonists are not extremely easy to enjoy. I have come across many female leads that usually possess some sort of annoying trait such as helplessness, a terrible attitude, or some flaw that makes it very difficult to get through the story. Laura, the lead of The Eternal City, was not a character that I enjoyed. It's hard for me to place my finger on why I feel this way, but she just seemed somewhat bland and of absolutely no use to anyone. She's supposed to be the character which an entire war is centered around. As a result, you kind of expect her to be remarkable or special in some way. But in The Eternal City, this wasn't the case.

This leads into my next letdown; too many weird and unrealistic events occurred. While Laura was on her class trip to Rome, almost everyone in the city came down with some weird sickness. However, the teachers in charge of all of the children saw no reason why the healthy kids couldn't go out into a foreign city and go site-seeing. Wouldn't you be concerned that they could potentially get sick? Wouldn't you quarantine everyone in their rooms? And when all of the teachers become sick, they allow the healthy students to venture out into the city alone. I'm pretty sure that goes against all common sense that faculty members should possess. Have they not seen Taken? Are they not afraid that someone could get hurt, mugged, or have something even worse happen to them? Anything could occur to a small group of teenagers that have been given free rein and no adult supervision in an unfamiliar and foreign city. Not to mention, they don't all speak fluent Italian.

Lastly, absolutely no gods--aside from Mercury--appeared. I thought there would be gods and goddesses fighting in the streets of Rome--at least that was the impression that I received from the book's summary. Instead, all I got were moving statues and fighting birds. And the big showdown didn't even occur until the last fifty pages of the story. The characters basically spent 250 pages running around the city not doing anything majorly productive.

I can't give the book a single star, because the author did do a superb job including many amazing sites and historical aspects of Rome. Morris possesses extensive knowledge on the city and sincerely tried to incorporate as much realism in terms of setting as she could. And this kind of accuracy is something that I really appreciate.

In the end, the idea of Roman gods fighting in the streets of modern day Rome in  order to reclaim the eyes of Minerva seems like a really awesome concept. However, its execution did not meet my expectations. 

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