Goodreads summary: The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.
My passionate love affair with her Lux series led me to pick up JLA’s Half-Blood, the first book in the Covenant series. I was sure I would like it, but instead I found myself going “WTF??” and “SRSLY??” for 281 pages.
Here’s the thing: plagiarism isn’t cool. We’re all taught this from a fairly early age in school, and any writer—especially a fantasy writer—should know how important it is to respect the work of other authors. Your writing is your writing. Whether you create a magnificent world full of wizards playing Quidditch or one with a klutzy girl trapped in an awkward love triangle with vampire and a werewolf, that is your work. You have built this world. You conceived an idea and then midwifed the crap out of it until it emerged, ink-smeared and surprisingly small, from your personal writing cave as a Real Book. And that Real Book is your book, full of your original ideas (presumably), and no one—but no one—is allowed to swoop in and take your book and change a few basic ideas and names and then publish it as his or her own original work.
Now, much as it’s pretty much impossible at this point in the game to create an entirely unique arrangement of musical notes, it is very hard to write a completely original book. Most ideas have been déjà had, and of course there are some big moneymakers that authors and publishers are doing to death, simply because they can. So as a writer, it’s pretty much impossible for you to say, “I am going to write a book about vampires!” and not have some similar elements to at least one of the fifty bajillion other vampire books out there. I can’t even begin to think how you’d have a completely unique vampire book these days. You can’t even score originality points by making them sparkle anymore!
But it’s one thing to have similarities to the work of another author in the genre. Completely ripping off their major plot points is a whole ’nother ball game, and that is what happened here.
If you haven’t read Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series,Half-Blood won’t seem that bad to you. It’s a decent book, if a bit… heavy… on the ellipses… sometimes. (Do you see… how annoying… that is? I shouldn’t… have to pause… dramatically… in nearly every… sentence… of dialogue.) It’s the story of a girl who literally lives to kick ass, has suffered a crippling personal loss, and who is quickly becoming entrenched in a forbidden romance with a hot guy. Action! Adventure! Sexy times!
But if you have read VA, you will see many, many eerie similarities:
– Alex is a half-blood, sworn to protect pure-bloods from the daimons who want to convert them and/or drain them of their incredibly potent aether. VA’s Rose is a dhampir sworn to protect Moroi from the Strigoi who want to convert them and/or drain them of their incredibly potent blood.
– Alex left the Covenant and missed some crucial points of her education but she’s still talented and badass enough to kill a couple daimons while untrained and on her own. Rose left St. Vladimir’s and missed some crucial points of her education but she’s still talented and badass enough to kill a couple Strigoi while untrained and on her own.
– Alex has a history of behavioral problems and people comment on how she is “full of life.” Rose has a history of behavioral problems and people comment on how she is “full of life.”
– Alex sees an oracle who predicts hardship for her. Rose sees a vampire gypsy who predicts hardship for her.
– Alex can never hook up with her trainer because he is a pure-blood and her instructor, but their attraction is just too strong to ignore. Rose can never hook up with her trainer because he is older than her and her instructor, but their attraction is just too strong to ignore.
– Alex SPOILER nearly hooks up with Aiden in his cabin END SPOILER. Rose SPOILER nearly hooks up with Dimitri in his room and then actually does hook up with him in a cabin END SPOILER.
This book looks like it’s leading into a love triangle, and I don’t generally like love triangles, so I’m feeling pretty “meh” about that. And I was so frustrated while I was reading because I love the Lux series so much. I think JLA is a talented writer and it’s so upsetting to me that she blatantly poached characters and plot points from Richelle Mead—another very paranormal writer—and published what basically amounts to a fanfic with a few details changed. And then I was angry with her editor and publisher, because they let it go so far.
I was going to give one star but there was a plot twist in the last third or so that was original and which looks like it could go in an interesting (albeit love-triangular) direction, so I bumped it up a half star. I’ve also ordered Pure because of this twist. I sincerely hope the second book isn’t full of VA rip-offs, because if it is I will be giving up on the Covenant series altogether.