Dusk Gate Chronicles Quartet by Breeana Puttroff
Let's start with the facts, the first four books of this series form the core of the conflict. They are four tightly connected books, though each solves the issues of that book. There is also two novellas/short stories that pertain to this story (which I haven't read) and at least three books that come after these four books and follow other plots.
Synopsis of the first book, Seeds of Discovery
Quinn Robbins' life was everything she thought a teenager's should be. She has good friends, a family that she loves, good grades, and an after-school job she enjoys. And, she's just been asked out by Zander Cunningham, a popular football player and great guy. But one day when driving home after picking up her little sister from the baby-sitter's, she nearly hits a boy who, after running blindly into the street, mysteriously disappears.
The mystery only deepens as she figures out who the boy is; William Rose, a reclusive, awkward boy from school who always has his nose in a pile of books.
As she becomes more aware of his behavior it becomes more obvious how out of the ordinary William is and how hard he deliberately tries to blend into the background. This only intrigues her more and she finds herself working to find out more about him, and exactly where he keeps disappearing to.
On a whim one night she follows him and suddenly finds herself in a new world. One where William is a prince, literally, and she is treated like a princess. She also discovers that she is stuck; the gate back to her own world isn't always open.
Quinn finds herself smack in the middle of a modern-day fairy tale, on a course that will change her life forever.
"What was I supposed to do, Alvin, just blurt out that I accidentally walked off a broken bridge and wound up in an alternate world?"
I've been getting increasingly frustrated with this series since I started the second book, and it took me until part way through the fourth before I figured out why.
The first book, Seeds of Discovery, was a nice, sweet, lighthearted fantasy romp. It was cute. I can say the same thing about the next three books, but I feel like the story material is beginning to demand that the story quit being cute.
They're starting to fight for their kingdom and more attention is given to the stolen kisses and romantic favors. One of the main characters gets captured and tortured, but we only know this after the case, in a sequence that felt kind of like a dream because of how abrupt it was.
No, I don't really want to be there during the gritty torture scene, but so much of the action takes place off the page. Over there. Away from Quinn. And in a story that has more viewpoint characters than just Quinn, there's no excuse for that. Other than the fact that most of the other character moments are taken up by romance feelings.
At least with the first book, the plotline was mostly about sick children, so there's no reason to have a lot of action. But later books in the series deal with kidnapping, torture and spies. There no excuse to keep these events so far removed that the reader actually feels disconnected - but that's certainly what happened to me.
There's also the fact that these characters are all too much. They're too kind, too sweet, too perfect. Most of the main characters in this story are teenagers. Sixteen-seventeen years old. But they never really act like teenagers.
They never say anything in anger that they later regret. No one does. They don't snap at anyone and then later have to go apologize. They don't argue or get into fights. They have no bad emotions or character flaws that they have to overcome. They're so perfect that they're not even people. Highlight for spoiler: Except Maxwell who actually was abrasive and said not so nice things, but, never you fear, he was appropriately punished for not being all 'none of you can do any wrong and butter wouldn't melt in your mouth, Quinn.'
All except Megan, Quinn's mother. Who, coincidentally, (or not) is the only one that isn't from this strange, new world where people probably fart rainbows. I was honestly all set to lambaste into Megan - you should see the bookmarks I saved on my kindle - because she's a rather awful parent. Her response to most everything that her daughter does that she doesn't like is the silent treatment. However, I realized something.
She's right. Megan is actually right. Her daughter that just turned seventeen (like yesterday) wants to A) drop out of school B) move to another world and C) marry a boy she's known for less than six months. Seriously, what mother would approve of that? I just wish that she had been wrote more maturely so the readers could actually agree with her instead of seeing her as a hurdle for the twu wuv.
Quote/Spoilers - Highlight to read:
"I mean, I know we're married - not that I've gotten used to that - but the thought of having a baby just wasn't even on my radar yet."
He held her hands, running his thumb around her wedding band. "At the risk of pointing out the obvious, I could remind you that we haven't exactly been doing anything to prevent that from happening."
Her cheeks instantly turned a glowing shade of red. "Does it make me the biggest idiot in the world that I didn't even consider that?"
Yes! That's the word he's unwilling to say. You're seventeen years old and having sex with a guy, Quinn. Why the hell wouldn't you realize that, as long as you're both fertile, you'll be having a baby sooner rather than later? If you can't think of things like that, you didn't belong getting married in the first place!
And it's so weird that a newlywed couple and a couple that has been married for twenty-five 'cycles' act exactly the same.
I know this is a more historical world - and there are some strong religious aspects to it - but I definitely take offence when someone says about getting pregnant 'sometimes they try to space the babies out a little.' Seriously, are all the married girls/women over sixteen (which is when a female is an 'adult' in this land) baby machines? How many couples that are 'a couple years older' than Quinn that have babies is a little...disturbing.
The characters - mostly Quinn - makes plenty of arguments about how sixteen is an adult in this new world, but in her world, the one she actually grew up in, our world, I don't think getting married at seventeen to a boy you've only known for six months is a good thing. And I really don't think it should be illustrated here as one. But it is.
I'd like to make special mention of the romance between Quinn and her boyfriend. It's diabetes inducing. There's no conflict. Real relationships have strife and turmoil to overcome. It's these moments that make the couple stronger. Well, Quinn and her boyfriend never have that problem. They never argue. They're always on the same page and totally loving and supportive of each other.
It is nice to see this instead of the abusive a-holes that usually populate YA romance, but this is unbelieveable. They are people. People aren't perfect. They don't have perfect relationships. Even when you love someone deeply, you're flawed. Not these two. True love conquers all. Or something like that.
You know what's going to happen? The first time they ever get into a fight, they're going to fall out of love because they never had any moments of conflict before and they won't know how to work through them when they're both angry and frustrated. They're getting married when they're still in the 'honeymoon' phase of their relationship - before the flaws start to show.
Also, I'm getting very tired about two things in Quinn's personality. One is how she's always getting herself injured. If there's a way to fall walking across a perfectly level floor, she'll find it. (Okay, exaggerating, but not by much.) Also, she cries way too much. At first I found it kind of interesting. She's smart and fairly capable, but is also emotional and isn't ashamed of crying. But then it starts to feel like 'oh, drama, cue Quinn's tears.' 'Hmm, nothing's happening, Quinn's going to start blubbering for some reason.' It gets old. Quick. (And I know this is a petty thing to be feed up about, but she keeps getting sick. She's sick so many times in such a short period of time that it's a wonder she's healthy at all.)
Don't think any of this means I don't like the series because I did rate the first three books five stars each. (Which I should totally go back and change now.) Why, though? Because the people are likable - even if they're frustrating in their 'it's all ponies and rainbows' personality. And also because the books always pick up towards the end. Makes me forget the trudging I had to do to get there. But, now that I've finally placed my finger on my problems with the series...
This series is not for those that want violence. It's for those that want fluffiness. It's also definitely not for people that want to see the story mature with the characters, because very little changes from the first story.
I don't know if I wasn't in the mood for the book at the time, or if the fourth book really was that awful. A good read for youngsters, those that still want to read about fairytale style love because the romance is clean with merely some barely described kisses and about one use of the word 'crap' per book. (Definitely not for those that are half as cynical as I am.)