Review: Captivate by Carrie Jones

Captivate (Need #2) by Carrie Jones
Carrie Jone's website here // $9.93 from {amazon}

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (January 5, 2010)
Hardcover: 288 pages

Summary: from {goodreads}
Zara and her friends knew they hadn't solved the pixie problem for good. Far from it. The king's needs grow deeper every day he's stuck in captivity, while his control over his people gets weaker. It's made him vulnerable. And now there's a new king in town.
A turf war is imminent, since the new pixie king, Astley, is moving in quickly. Nick nearly killed him in the woods on day one, but Zara came to his rescue. Astley swears that he and Zara are destined to be together, that he's one of the good guys. Nick isn't buying it, though Zara isn't as sure -- despite herself, she wants to trust the new king. But it's a lot more than her relationship with Nick that is at stake. It's her life -- and his. 

Rating: View my rating system.

** Note: This review does contain some spoilers if you have NOT read Need. If that is the case, I recommend skipping to the "Bottom Line" section.

My Thoughts: I read and liked Need, and Captivate certainly did not fail to meet my expectations. Captivate picks up soon after Need ends; Zara and her group of friends have been capturing more pixies and forcing them into their pixie house. All-in-all, not exactly smooth sailing, especially when some new pixie kings get in the picture.

I didn't have any big problems with Captivate, but the main reason I didn't love it more can be summed up in one word: Zara. I wasn't annoyed by her per se, but I also didn't find myself sympathizing with her very much. Yes, I can understand that she's in a difficult dilemma, but at times I just felt like screaming "can't you see you're a pixie too?!" So while I wasn't annoyed with Zara herself (I do like her personality), I did get irritated by her fixation on the negative aspects of pixies. It's not only Zara though; both Zara and Nick have this open disgust of pixies, and I felt that detracted from their characters. Who is Zara? A teenage girl that really, really, REALLY does not want to become a pixie. Who is Nick? A macho, protective sweetie that abhors pixies, even if that pixie is his girlfriend. Their disgust is understandable, but it was like their defining characteristic; without all the complaints and denial, a sixth of this book could probably be taken out. I still saw glimpses of the Zara I love, I just wish I could have seen more outside of the pixie-obsessed Zara.

Another minor issue was how mushy the romance was. *shiver* Take for instance, Zara and Nick constantly used "baby" in sentences such as "I love you, baby." Maybe I'm a bit out of the loop here, but it sounded cheesy on paper and made me cringe everytime I read it... though that might partly be because I wasn't exactly cheering for Nick here. Actually, I was glad when Nick wasn't there. I always seem to fall for the sweet but under-appreciated guy that I know won't get his affections returned any time soon, and Captivate was no exception. It's like an adorable little puppy that keeps on trying to please its owner but keeps on getting put down. *sigh* It doesn't help that he's gorgeous and swoon-worthy and has an unique name that's spelled "A-S-T-L-E-Y." In contrast to Nick, Astley is subtley strong and brave, and he has an unapostrophed way of speaking that sounds awkward in concept but endearing in Captivate; it's who he is. As for Nick, he shows up quite a bit, but he lost his attractive spark for me. I admit that Nick is extremely sweet and protective, but I didn't see anything other than those qualities. He's like a jawbreaker that only has many levels of sweet, but, ultimately, nothing inside. In case you couldn't tell: sorry, Nick, but I love Astley and can't wait to find out more about him. In fact, I would read Captivate for Astley alone.

Despite the so-so characters, I still couldn't put Captivate down. Why? I loved the well-paced, fast-moving plot with just enough action. Overall, the characters were just "fine," and the plot swept me up and allowed me to overlook any flaws. There were so many secrets being unveiled that I felt like I had to know more, especially because there were so many new mysteries introduced that I never saw coming! Some of them aren't even hinted at in Need, and I was definitely pleasantly surprised. There were a couple times that I could sort of predict what would happen, but mostly it was just new information that I'd never have expected and kept me guessing throughout the book. There's a little feeling of "where did that come from?" but everything ties in, so nothing unreasonable. Carrie Jones ends with a conclusion that definitely leaves you hanging and with many, many mysteries unsolved, but it also has some semblance of closure. All I know for sure right now is that it left me wanting to read book 3 - soon.

Romance: ... I don't know. *cries* Astley. The romance is definitely there though.
Cover: 4.0 - Very pretty, though it really doesn't tell much about the book.
Writing: 3.5 + .25 for the phobias! If that's what you loved about Need, there are a few mentions here and there.
Characters: 3.5
Plot: 4.5

Bottom Line: Captivate was a solid sequel to Need that while a bit lacking in the character section (excuse my ranting), more than made up for it in the fast-paced plot. And need I bring up Astley again? Captivate is definitely a light, fun read that you should look into if you're wanting try something with a bit of romance, faeries, and lore. As a side note, I would strongly recommend reading Need before beginning Captivate; I personally feel like it could get a little complex and confusing if you don't.

Source: Anna from Bloomsbury Children's Books