October 12, 2014 by mmileti
The urban fantasy/paranormal genre is currently so popular that it often gets flooded with clichéd story lines, elements, and tropes. The Younger Gods is not a genre-bending novel, but it does manage to avoid the stereotypical features of a typical paranormal novel. Underwood is a great storyteller, and this original and rapid paced story is sure to stand out in a genre full of love triangles and normal protagonists suddenly thrust into the paranormal.
Jacob Greene is a young man who grew up in a world full of magic, but right now he would do anything to escape that world forever. He comes from a family of cultists who use murder and blood sacrifice to obtain their power. When Jacob is finally exposed to the world outside the cult, the magnitude of his family’s betrayal becomes clear, and he flees his family to join the alien world of a college student in New York City. But being a normal college student is harder than Jacob ever imagined, and proper mannerisms, speech patterns, and cultural references continue to baffle him. Things get even worse when his sister comes to town with the hopes of starting the apocalypse, and Jacob realizes that he needs help in order to stop her. As he attempts to gather allies from a world that he doesn’t understand, his sister gathers more and more power, hoping to fulfill his family’s prophecy of the destruction of the world.
In this novel Underwood gives the reader a very unique glimpse of New York City through a narrator whose every experience (no matter how small) is new and extraordinary. Usually when you read a novel that takes place in a well-known city, the day-to-day occurrences are glossed over, but through Jacob’s eyes the reader gets to see NYC in an all-new way, with the wonder of someone who is truly out of their element. Jacob is a fascinating protagonist in many ways, and the most interesting part of the novel was not the events of the plot, but rather Jacob’s reaction to these events. He is an almost sociopathic character whose major redeeming quality is his ability to feel empathy for humans, but the unfamiliar way he views the world and the whirlwind situations he finds himself in are enough to singlehandedly capture the reader’s attention throughout the novel.
Though I was particularly impressed with Jacob’s character development and narrative, I would have enjoyed the novel a bit more if there was more detail and growth put into the secondary characters. I did not find myself caring much for any of the characters besides Jacob, and even the antagonist could have been better developed. Throughout most of the novel it felt like the threat Jacob was up against was intangible, and a less elusive threat would have given the plot an urgency that it currently lacks. I also would have liked to see a more engaging magic system in this novel. Though the magic of Jacob’s family is terribly complex, it is lacking a quality that makes it fascinating to the reader. A distinctive and sensational magic system could have turned this novel from a good read to a great one.
Despite this story’s flaws, it is a fun and fast paced read that I would recommend to any fan of the paranormal genre that is looking for something a little different. Underwood manages to tell an entertaining story, and although it is not my favorite book of the year, it is still a worthy read that manages to avoid the numerous clichés that are often found in the genre. The protagonist is a fascinating character, and his narrative alone kept me engaged throughout the book.
My rating: 7/10
I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.
Stop by Avid Reviews tomorrow (Oct 13) for a chance to win one of two digital copies of The Younger Gods, courtesy of the publisher, Pocket Star.