(The Jaguar Sun series, Book 1)
Fiction, YA Fantasy
DESCRIPTION: Between high school, a long-vanished mother, and a boyfriend too absorbed in football to spend time with her anymore, Maya had enough to worry about. Then the dreams started - strange, intense dreams of a jaguar stalking the night. When she finds the mark on the back of her neck, she realizes she's doomed to be a shifter, one of those ill-reputed people capable of taking on an animal form. But most shifters only transition at age 18, making her two years too young. Then again, most shifters don't have the sort of powers Maya soon discovers... powers that may make her a key player in the coming Mayan apocalypse, when the world might be led into a better place or cursed for all eternity.
REVIEW: Another teen-girl-discovers-powers-and-may-save-the-world book, I knew it was unlikely to be startlingly original when I downloaded it (as a freebie, of
course.) Still, even knowing that, I soon grew irritated with Maya. Though she does a little freaking out as her powers develop (with remarkable speed, given their magnitude), she nevertheless gets off easy. The whole story pretty much walks up to her and delivers itself on a silver platter. Friends and mentors abound, telling her everything she needs to know and taking her just where she needs to be. Once in a rare while, she has visions that help, but even these are hand-delivered by Balam, her otherworldly jaguar guide. The first time she tries most anything with her powers, it works - often better than even her mentors could have dreamed. Her enemies helpfully exist purely to be evil; there is absolutely no question about which side is Right and which is Wrong, no possible alternatives, no ambiguity in the prophecies, making it exceptionally easy for her to figure out whom to side with when the chips are down. She even finds her life mate, a very big deal among shifters (who mate for life, evidently regardless of what their animal forms may be), almost as soon as she transitions. Much as she frets and worries, Maya just plain doesn't have to do anything but exist. She was, quite literally, born to succeed. One begins to wonder why the bad guys even try opposing her. The writing itself isn't bad, and it kept me reading even as I rolled my eyes, but it was hard to feel much tension when the story's so clearly choreographed by Fate. I clipped it a half-mark for the ending; even though I knew it was Book 1 of a series, it felt like a letdown, given the supposedly world-altering climax that preceded it.
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