I’ve been on a huge YA kick lately, so was excited to pick up Blood Ties by Mari Mancusi. I guess I didn’t realize that the Blood Coven series was as far along (this is book 6) as this. But I didn’t feel too terribly lost, which is always a plus.
The final battle is brewing between Vampires and Slayers. But for Sunny McDonald, the true war is being fought over her heart.
Though now officially back in the arms of her vampire boyfriend Magnus, Sunny finds she still can’t forget the gentle mortal Jayden who once saved her life. And when the darkness threatens to steal his humanity, Sunny finds herself with a choice. Stay true to Magnus and the Blood Coven or defy them in a desperate attempt to save Jayden’s soul.
Meanwhile, the Blood Coven is gearing up for its toughest fight yet–going head to head with a splinter group of Slayer Inc who’s regrouping in Tokyo, Japan, still determined to take over the world. In dark blood bars and hidden temples, it’ll be Vampires vs. Slayers in a showdown that could cost Sunny not only her heart…but also her very life.
Blood Ties was a really quick read for me. Took maybe about 90 minutes from start to finish, but I’m a pretty quick reader. I like that the plot was fairly fast paced with little downtime between the in-book story arcs. I also really liked that the prologue was basically a mini-recap (it’s about 4 pages) of what has happened in the previous 5 books. Though, it doesn’t seem like much happened in 5 books, which is why I was thinking this was book 4, not 6. If I can find time, I’d like to get a hold of the other ones and catch up on Sunny & Co. from the beginning.
Since all the worldbuilding is complete, there’s not a lot to really say about it. Seems to be set in modern day times. I like modern, but my concern is that Blood Ties is too modern to really last. Meaning, Ms. Mancusi uses a LOT of references to current pop culture. From how the characters speak to current celebrities. Like, Justin Bieber was mentioned quite a few times. As is the current hype over Japanese culture (which is cool of course, but I’m talking things like Hello Kitty and manga). Please please don’t misunderstand. I have nothing against any these current trends (well, OK, I’m NOT a Bieber fan, but…). My point being is these things are “in” now. It’s very likely that in say 5 years there will be a new, different trend. To me, this almost guarantees that there is no long term future for Blood Ties. Yes, trends come and go and eventually come back around (for those of us who grew up in or remember the 80s…I’m surprised that there isn’t shelves now devoted to Rave and Aqua Net hairsprays). But, it seems that books who stay around and last or come back into style (a la The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith) don’t have so much usage of “current” trends. I think that is what saddens me about Blood Ties. Ms. Mancusi seems to have a pretty fresh take on vampires and fae worlds. Blood Ties is also very well written (easy to follow, fast plot), but in 10, 15, 20 years…the teens reading YA at that time in the future will likely have no frame of reference for things like Justin Bieber.
My other issue with Blood Ties is that the scene the book leads up to kind of fell flat for me. There’s this build up of some big bad thing that is going to happen and some big showdown. Then, it’s over in just a few pages with no real action. Just well…talk. Honestly, I think the book either could have been longer (it clocks in at 231 pages in trade paperback) or this particular plot point stretched for 2 books. I know this is YA, but um, that is no excuse IMO for lack of actual action. Look at Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series, Jenna Black’s Faeriewalker series, PC & Kristin Casts’s House of Night, Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Power. All of these have plenty of action. Yes, sometimes rushing in and being able to talk some sense into people can work; but, there can still be action. There should be action. I don’t know, that pinnacle scene just felt too easy, too simple; that left me with a feeling of “this can’t be it, there has to be more.”
So overall, I enjoyed Blood Ties, and while I’d like to (at some point) go back and read the first 5 books, this isn’t one I’ll be adding to my re-read or even fave YA series list.