Publisher: Pocket Books (1994)
I’m not gonna lie: it’s been a god-awful week for book reviews. In the hopes of preserving my fragile sanity and keeping me from thumping my head against this table yet again, I thought I’d throw one in there that was sure to earn at least a 9 on the highly scientific Judith-Ellen scale and had a swoon-worthy love interest as diabolical as he is sexy. Plus look at that cover! That’s 90s cheese at its very best. Looking at that you can’t help but smile…and then drool over the elemental ice lord peering over the house at the back.
Jenny and her friends have made it back from Julian’s shadow world and managed to win his high-stakes game in order to regain their freedom. Only problem is they had to leave behind one of them and no matter how hard they try to make it otherwise, Summer is not coming back. Julian however has more plans to force Jenny to become his queen. He has a new game for her and her friends to play; this one called Lambs and Monsters. The Lambs are Jenny and her friends and the Monsters are the Lurker and the Creeper, two phantoms embodied as a wolf and snake. Slowly they prey on the group and one by one Jenny’s friends disappear with nothing but a paper doll left in their place and a riddle telling who will be next. Jenny races to save her friends all the while attempting to navigate an increasingly rocky relationship with her boyfriend, Tom, and being asked to the prom by a senior. There’s also the added temptation of Julian who shows up in the most unusual of places (like the prom) and uses all of his masculine wiles to get her to kiss him and wear a promise ring he’s made for her. In the end, Jenny manages to find and save her friends but in the ensuing battle to escape, Tom and her cousin, Zach, are trapped within Julian’s world. He makes it very clear that she must play one last game to save them.
Now what do we have here? It’s a book about a game that needs to be played in order to save Jenny and her friends from Julian, the sexy leather and fringe wearing elemental ice lord from Norse myth. I think I’ve heard this one before…now where was that, hmmm…oh yes, it’s almost the same plot as the first book in the Forbidden Game series (The Hunter) but somehow I just don’t care! That Julian, he’s so sexy and man, is he fickle! Either he loves Jenny or he hates her but he doesn’t realize that he can’t have both. Or can he? He’s an ice creature from way up North who by his very nature is temperamental and cold yet he sees Jenny and his heart melts. Literally. Usually I find this sort of cliche so trite that I chuck a book across the room or hit delete on the kindle but here, it really works. LJ Smith’s writing is tight: fast paced, believable, and full of the sort of nuanced detail that you don’t really see in teen fiction. She creates a highly believable world and the fact that there are paranormal elements in it is pretty moot. Every word she writes feels crafted for a purpose. The story is fantastic and even though the plot doesn’t really vary, Smith manages to make it feel new and unique. Obviously, I’m a big fan of her work and this, the second in a series, does not disappoint. Usually the middle book of a trilogy feels like filler or a place holder but not so with The Chase. Unlike other novels of this sort, we see the characters evolve and mature. Jenny is far more self-assured than she was in the first book and we get an added bonus of watching her use her new found assertiveness during some sexy time with Julian. All in all, great book and bodes well for things to come!
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 10. Oh Jenny. How can you withstand the sexiness that is Julian? How can you want to date a guy named Tom? I can’t believe you would forego the blond, blue eyed ice lord for a high school jock but props to you for knowing what you want and doing anything in your power to protect it. Personally, the moment Julian kissed me I would have stayed to be his ice queen but you definitely are more mature than me. Major points for not changing your beliefs based on the sexiness of your enemy.
How much did I like the love interest: 10. I swoon every time I think of Julian’s dreamy blue eyes, his white blond hair, his ability to give Jenny anything and everything her heart desires, and, oh you know, the fact that he goes against his very being by loving her. Swoon! Squee! He’s also just bad boy enough to make me love to hate him.
How believable is the plot: 10. God how I wish Julian would jump out of my cupboard and challenge me to a game. Even though it’s paranormal, this plot is entirely realistic.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. LJ Smith is a writing goddess. Her dialogue is perfect in its simplicity and the story just flows. There’s no herky jerky stops and starts and the editing as always is flawless. Plus she writes in the third person and that’s a breath of fresh air these days where everyone is writing in the first.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. 10. 10. Thank god there’s a third one in this series otherwise I would be so disappointed not to hear any more about Julian.
Final Score: 10 / 10. Read it! But be prepared to want to slap Jenny senseless when she somehow manages to withstand Julian and his advances.