Review: Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (December 22, 2009)
Hardcover: 256 pages -- Paperback is coming out at the same time!
Price: $11.46 from {amazon}, {barnes and noble: pb, h}
Summary: from {goodreads}
On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family. Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart. Even fans of the genre who’ve seen it all will find a fresh read with kick-butt characters and family dynamics that ring true for all brothers and sisters—vampire or otherwise.


 Review: Solange is the first girl born to a powerful vampire line in over 900 years. She's human right now, but she might not survive past her 16th birthday to transform into a vampire. With her trusty best friend and nose-breaking wonder, Lucy (real name: Lucky), at her side, Solange takes down some serious vampire hunters, crazed blood fanatics, and repulsive admirers. And did I mention she find love along the way?

If all of that sounds like a lot, IT IS. Hearts at Stake was packed with action, romance, and vampire politics - in a good way. It moves in fast and doesn't let up. There was never a dull moment, and I was always learning something new: another vampire betrayal here, another killing over there, etc. It was easy to read and understand and kept me on the edge wondering what would happen next. That being said, Hearts At Stake is not an extremely deep book, but enjoyable. The best way I can think of to organize my thoughts for this one is to split them into pros and cons since there are quite a few things I think need to be mentioned, both positive and negative.

The White:
1) I love Lucy!! (Just noticed the parallel to the TV show when I finished typing this. Must be fate.) She's like that awesome best friend that we all wish we had - the one that sticks by your side and defends you no matter what and who's willing to throw a few punches to enforce that. Lucy has serious spunk and bravery, and coupled with a biting, sarcastic sense of humor, she's my type of girl.
2) Fast-paced with lots of action. Stakes flying, insane jumps, Matrix-esque backward bends, what's not to love?
3) Interesting vampire-related groups and politics. Alyxandra Harvey creates an intricate world of vampire hierarchies and histories and various beings like the Helios-Ra, vampire hunters, and the blood-crazed, blue-skinned vampires called Hel-Blar.
4) Did I mention super hot vampire guys with ice blue eyes? Let me say that again: seven hot vampires that all look almost the same. One for you, one for me, and let's continue to pass the rest around the circle.

The Black:
1) Jumped in very fast. I had to double-check to make sure I didn't miss something, specifically a book before Hearts At Stake. The action started immediately and though there was some introduction, I felt that there were previous events I had missed that would really have fleshed out the book. I definitely could have used a lot more background information on the Solange-Lucy and Lucy-Nicoholas relationships.
2) Hectic ending. Quite a few groups that had been mentioned in the book but never actually showed up popped up at the end to throw some kicks and complicate all the crazy action that was already happening. To say I was confused by all the different groups coming in and yelling is an understatement.

The Gray:
1) Alternating POV between Solange and Lucy. I enjoyed seeing things from both of their views and it allowed me to see what was going on at two different places simultaneously. My concern is that I felt it was a bit choppy jumping around so often, and I didn't see a clear distinction between Solange and Lucy. While I liked Lucy's rebellious character, I didn't really have a feeling about Solange. She was just... there.
2) Fairly simple writing. I don't know what to make of this. On one hand, it was easy to understand and didn't detract from the story. On the other hand, it didn't add to the story and the questions Lucy uses at the beginning to clarify some terms are obvious for what they are - info for the reader.

Romance: Cute, hot, fast. Technically there are two romance in Hearts at Stake. And they move fast, as in the first kiss is on page 23. While I enjoyed the rapid pace, I wish there could have been more time for development.
Cover: 3.0 - The model is gorgeous... but who is she? Solange has short hair, though other than that, it matches her description.
Writing: 3.0
Characters: 4.0 - Lucy points!
Plot: 3.5

Bottom Line: I know my review of Hearts at Stake is a bit long and winding, sorry! There were just so many points I wanted to get in here, because I'm still not really not sure of my standing on Hearts At Stake. It had unique ideas and loveable, interesting characters, though the beginning and ending weren't very solid and I had a few concerns that I can't flag yet as full-fledged objections. Again, the one thing that I loved was Lucy! I'd recommend this book to anyone who's a fan of the paranormal and looking for an action-packed, romance-filled, fast-paced, and light read. Overall, I gave Hearts at Stake four stars for it's entertainment value and I'd say this series has potential; I'll be looking forward to reading Blood Fued, book 2 in the series. Congrats Alyxandra Harvey on her debut! :)

Thank you to Katie, who I won this ARC from.