Sunday, January 4, 2015

City of the Gods: The Descendant by SJ McMillan Review

Hey readers! It's January 4, which means the New Year is officially in full swing! How are you enjoying 2015 so far? I know mine doesn't feel all that different from 2014 yet! Anyway... I have been in a bit of a reading slump lately and have really been needing a good read to pull me out of it. Thankfully, a book I picked up a few months ago really cam through for me. What are we discussing today? City of the Gods: The Descendant, by SJ McMillan. Before we get to my thoughts, here is some info about the novel and our author:

700 A.D. Teotihuacán, Mexico – The High Priest believed himself to be as powerful as the gods. He set a plague on the city as a demonstration of his power. The Gods took pity on the remaining loyal congregation. They granted each survivor immortality and an extraordinary ability. Three loyal survivors were given a mission of great importance: train the lone human descendant of their civilization to stop the evil priest from damning the rest of humanity.

2012 A.D. San Diego, California – The time has come to finally make Katalina Deckard aware of her destiny. Her life has been a constant struggle since the loss of her parents when she was young. But has it prepared her to save the world? Can her friends, who have survived so long, convince her she has what it takes to accept the mantle of Redeemer?

S.J. McMillan

I live in Southwest Missouri with my awesome husband and our three lively children. My guilty pleasures include, but are limited to, reading whatever I can get my hands on, watching reality TV, singing loudly, and dancing terribly. My real passion is writing. I started writing poetry in high school. Over the years my writing has evolved into creating Urban Fantasies. I get immersed in the lives of my characters, in their struggles and in their triumphs.

Find S.J. McMillan

My Thoughts

I'm not going to lie, I had no idea what to expect going into this read. Is this a historic fiction? A paranormal perhaps? Wait... is it fantasy thriller? A supernatural mystery with an air of historic suspense? I was confused. Point blank. Regardless of what genre this series decides to be place in, I took the plunge. A plunge that, in the end, was definitely worth it! I have been in a huge reading slump. Between reading sub-par manuscripts and reads that really weren't hitting the bar for me, I just have not found my first read of 2015 that really stood out to me. And then I found SJ McMillan.

If you follow my blog, you may have heard of my random adventure in meeting McMillan a few months ago. I was visiting a local craft and trade show when my friends approached me with "hey Ethan, there's an author in that tent over there, you should go meet her!" so... 'meet her' I did! Immediate after striking up a conversation with McMillan, I knew I had met an awesome author. She's about the friendliest author I've ever met. And that's saying something. So, without hesitation, I purchased the first two books of her City of the Gods series and could not wait to read them! Granted, it took me quite a bit longer than I would have liked, but thankfully, I finally found time to check out this exciting series. 

From the very beginning, I was drawn in. I will go ahead and say that this is one of the most unique and original ideas I have seen for a read in forever. McMillan really draws on several historical narratives, but does not dwell on that narrative for telling her story. What we have is a modern story with roots in historical lore. That is not a trend I have seen much of and I found it to be fully enlightening. Huge amounts of kudos to McMillan for her valiant efforts to produce a memorable and original manuscript. I don't even have anything to compare it to, it's that unique

When it comes to the plot, I will admit that it did drag a bit in places. You can definitely tell that McMillan planned for this to be a series from the get go, because like all great series, book one is full of world-building details. Sometimes the story line can get a little buried in the details, but in the end I think it worked out. This was one of the reads that I didn't realize how much I was enjoying it until I ran out of pages. It really ends on a great note. I haven't been as pumped to read the next installment of a series in a very long time. Nothing really ends on a cliffhanger, per se, but the finale really sets us up for a story we definitely want to see more of! 

In terms of writing style, McMillan's is definitely one to be remembered. There are just some authors that you read for the first time and you can tell how versatile they are going to be with their writing voices. In this sense, I liken McMillan to the great KA Tucker. I see where McMillan also writes romance as well, and I have a great feeling they are written to perfection, much like Tucker. KA Tucker absolutely wow'd me by her paranormal series, but has taken the world by storm with her new adult romance series. I can definitely see McMillan being like that as well, extremely flexible and able to adapt her writing style to fit many different genres. With her level of description, I would love to see a dystopian from her! 

Back to City of the Gods. The cast of characters in this one was small, yet memorable. We have our quartet of characters who really ground the storyline, without our MC, Katalina (Kat). Kat is a rather unique character. She really is like a double sided coin. Literally. With her dual personality, Kat makes for a rather intriguing protagonist. She has a backstory full of heartbreak and intrigue, and can still pack a very serious punch. Seriously, I dig it. The other characters, Tristan, Sabine, and Vivian all play a pivotal part in keeping out storyline moving. I am curious as to what the future hold for Sabine and Vivian though. Is it wring of me to want a love interest for these characters?

This brings me to the last point I'd like to make about this novel. I had a hard time deciphering the "intended audience" for this read. I think it makes for a great adult novel, however. It played it very safe. Aside from a couple of scary moments where they was some potential for sexual and physical abuse, this read was pretty PG-13. I would have liked to have seen some more MA material. More language, more description in the body language, the physical attraction between the characters, etc. I think the novel really stands on its' own, but to push it squarely into the genre I think it's intended for, I would have liked to have seen a bit more adult content. As it stands now, it could very easily pass for a YA, which is also great for YA fans! 

I've got book two, The Betrayal, in my hands right now ready to start. Going into it, I really don't know what to expect, but I can tell you that if it is anything like its' predecessor, I am confident that I will continue to fall in love with the world that McMillan has crafted.

All-in-all, I am granting City of the Gods: The Descendant a very well deserved 5-star review. Regardless of the few critiques I had of this novel, the originality and writing style that McMillan has displayed with this series was more than enough to push it into my 'excellence' category. A highly recommended read for all lovers of paranormal reads who may be looking for something just a bit 'different' to start off their New Year! Definitely add this one to your TBR folks, you won't regret it!

Unfortunately, due to publishing issues, this novel is not currently available for purchase. SJ McMillan is currently working on re-editing this manuscript in preparation of self publishing in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please add it to your Goodreads TBRs and be checking back here for information pertaining to it's re-release! 

Alright readers, that's all I have for you on the topic of City of the Gods: The Descendant! Does this one sound up your alley? If so, don't hesitate to add it to your TBR! Have you already read it? Let me know what you thought in the comments below! Definitely starting out my 2015 on a very high note! Can't wait to see how I feel about book two. Be on the look out for my thoughts on it very soon. Until next time, Happy Reading!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the awesome review! I haven't read any of KA Tucker's book but will definitely have to pick one up now. I really appreciate the honesty in your review as well. It gives me food for thought on my next books. This is one of the best book reviews I've read in a very long time, and I'm not just saying that because you liked the book. Well done Ethan! Thanks again!