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Review: Before I Wake

Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent was released in the U.S. today, June 26, 2012, in paperback and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in both formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by Harlequin TEEN, the print edition is 352 pages.

Before I Wake is the sixth book in author Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series. The seventh and final book in the series, With All My Soul is slated for release on April 1, 2013.

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WARNING: Goodreads description has SPOILERS for If I Die, the fifth book in the series.

Goodreads description:

I died on a Thursday-killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul. The good news? He didn’t get it. The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school…

Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent “recovering,” she’s back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend. But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won’t keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn’t just gambling with her own life….

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 ***REVIEW has spoilers for If I Die but NOT Before I Wake***

All things considered, Kaylee Cavanaugh was pretty lucky. Sure, she died. But she got a second chance. And although she technically wasn’t alive, at least she wasn’t a reaper. She didn’t have to take souls, just reclaim them.

Immortality, however, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sure, she could make herself invisible when she wanted to hang out with her boyfriend. No, she didn’t have to sleep. No, she didn’t have to eat unless she wanted to. No, she wouldn’t age. And no, she didn’t actually have to go to school. That was her choice.

But being invisible was easier than being corporeal – not ideal when trying to pretend to be normal at school. Not being able to sleep left long periods of time with little to do and no one to do it with. Not aging meant that nearly everyone she cared about would eventually be gone.

And being immortal didn’t mean being invincible.

So when someone from Kaylee’s past looks to make a deal, she must decide whether the risk of working with them is greater than the danger of facing down her enemies alone. Not a decision she ever thought she’d have to make. Not a decision she ever wanted to make. And not someone whose side she ever thought she’d have to choose. Especially when she knows they can’t be trusted.

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The sixth installment in the Soul Screamers series, Before I Wake is every bit as tension-filled, emotionally charged, intense, gripping and entertaining as its predecessor. With new dangers, the return of old enemies and even greater obstacles to overcome, this book is nerve-wracking, suspenseful, heartbreakingly sweet and sad and absolutely unputdownable.

As with each of the previous books in the series, Before I Wake takes things to the next level – more excitement, more heat, deadlier threats and more complex challenges for the characters to face. Especially for the story’s heroine, Kaylee Cavanaugh.

While she struggles to cope with her new existence, or lack thereof, she must find a way to balance school, her new job, her new boyfriend, her ex-boyfriend, her Dad’s overprotectiveness, and a mara who still manages to get under her skin.

Engaging from start to finish, Before I Wake delves into just what “life” is like for Kaylee. It touches on the very real issues of isolation, loneliness and despair that come with not quite being part of the world around her. And it shows that immortality does not always guarantee a happy ending.

But the story also shows a positive change in the way Kaylee interacts with the people in her life. She’s developed a new strength never before seen in the series, she’s become more confident in who she is and her importance in the lives of the people around her and she’s become more forgiving and understanding of those who have let her down in the past.

We also get to see a more witty, fun and flirtatious Kaylee. Even with the enemies that plague her existence. Even with the return of someone she hoped she’d never have to see again. And even with an ex who is not about to make things easy on her just because she died.

Add to this a new mystery to solve, a threat that no one ever saw coming and one not everyone may survive, and you have a story that will captivate, that will surprise and that will leave the door open for the possibility of anything – good or bad – to happen.

Before I Wake is an absolute must read that not only doesn’t suffer a lag, but challenges itself to be better than what came before. It’s a nail-biter. It’s a heartbreaker and a heart-stopper. It’s a fast-paced, intense, incredibly addictive and wildly entertaining addition to the series. It’s shocking. It breaks the rules. It leaves readers anxious for the final installment.

And it’s all connected by author Rachel Vincent’s heart-felt, tearful and beautiful passages and the humorous, fun and sarcastic dialogue readers have come to expect.

Reviewer gives this book….

Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

On a personal note:

I don’t think I could have been happier with this series than I was when I reached the end of If I Die. It was the perfect end to the perfect series. And yet it wasn’t. There were two books still to come.

While If I Die was an absolutely tormenting roller coaster ride, the ending had me crying tears of joy. There were so many possibilities ahead for my two favorite characters. So many potential happily ever afters. If the series stopped right there I would have been sad but at the same time happy. Satisfied. Hopeful.

Then along came Before I Wake. And I was a mix of excited and nervous for its arrival. After that happy ending, I was scared about what new torture author Rachel Vincent would put me through. What she’d put her characters through. I was hopeful that what started to develop between Tod and Kaylee would grow and not end up the same twisty nightmarish mess that was Nash and Kaylee’s relationship.

I raced through the book. The first time I read it. And because once wasn’t quite enough I read it again. I was so desperate to learn what happened next. I was anxious to find out if this follow up to the best book in the series would match its awesomeness or if it would fall just a bit shy of it, if not more.

Well, where If I Die had a number of amazing moments, they were countless in Before I Wake. I noted passage after passage of moments that made me grin, moments that brought tears to my eyes, moments that took my breath away, moments that stopped my heart from beating.

I cheered. I laughed. I was giddy – yes giddy – with excitement. I was hopeful. I was happy. And not just for the briefest of moments.

But I also sobbed. I was crushed. Devastated. Heartbroken. Torn apart. And shocked. I really didn’t think I would be shocked this late in a series, knowing just how far the author will go with her characters and story. But I was.

I couldn’t believe just how many shocks and surprises there were in this sixth book in the Soul Screamers series. While some of them were good, happy surprises, more of them were of the devastating “I can’t believe that just happened” variety of surprise.

I was so shocked with the first read, I didn’t cry like I did during each of my many reads of If I Die. But on the second read I was in tears for practically the entire book. Yes, knowing what comes next doesn’t always lessen the pain.

There is so much I want to talk about in this book, but I do not like to spoil what happens for those who haven’t yet read it. And while I may have revealed things from previous books in the series – like who lived to be in this book – I refuse to go into any real details of all the awesome that is Before I Wake.

Because there was a lot of awesome. Like all those sarcastic exchanges between those bean sidhes, reapers and one troublesome mara. And all those conversations that absolutely yanked on my heartstrings. Oh, and all those moments that consisted of a glance, a touch, a kiss, where words weren’t required.

Nope, I won’t talk about those. And I won’t reveal just what happened to make me cry, to make me so anxious to see how this series ends, so desperate to find out just what the heck that ending means for… well… everyone who actually makes it into the final book in the series.

And, sorry, I won’t talk about just what may or may not have happened between Kaylee and Tod.

What I will say, though, is that this book was outstanding. It did not fall shy of the awesome that was If I Die. It was awesome in its own right. In its own way. It took me to a different place. It made me think different things about the characters. And it kept me just as riveted as I was with each and every book in the series.

I loved it for its progression. I loved it for its differences. I loved that it took my emotions on one heck of an insane ride. I loved it for its ability to keep me glued to the story, not once but twice. And I loved that it altered my opinions of not one, but almost all of the characters in this series.

But most of all I loved how real and honest and frightening Kaylee’s emotions were about what she’s become. About what her existence means. About what it feels like to be there and not there.

I am already dying to find out where this story leads and where it ends. I am nervous as to just how heartbreaking the final book in the series will be. I’m hopeful that it will be every bit as incredible as its predecessor. And I’m terrified of having to say goodbye.

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Favorite passage:

I had over forty favorite passages in Before I Wake. I had the hardest time choosing, especially since I love all things sarcastic. And there was this one Sabine quote….

But there was also this stunningly gorgeous, dark and amazing quote from Avari that starts with, “It’s a crescendo of death…” but it was just a little too revealing. So, I ended up choosing one of the most romantic passages I have ever read:

His gaze burned into mine, like he could see past my eyes into parts of me no one had ever seen, and I knew I was seeing the same in him. No one else had ever seen him so vulnerable before, like if I pushed him away, he might crumble into pieces that could never be put together again. Yet there was strength, too. He was strong beneath that fragile need, and I knew that I could never fall with him next to me. If I tripped, he would catch me. If I lost my balance, he would find it.

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This review is based on an early finished copy of the book I received from the author and contains my honest opinions about the book.

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