I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for the review copy!
It’s hard to know just what to say about Haven. It’s not a bad book, per se, but I felt like it never lived up to its potential, and there was nothing to make this paranormal romance stand out from its peers.
The novel begins when Aaron “Rain” Ryland moves in with his estranged aunt after his mother’s unexpected death. Rain, a big-city kid used to living on the streets and in homeless shelters, fending off street gangs, and eating out of dumpsters, is vaguely amused when the denizens of his aunt’s sleepy little town start acting strangely, even hostilely, towards him. He finds it weird, but not particularly troubling. After all, Rain’s faced off with thugs and gang bangers; what harm can a few country bumpkins possibly do?
A lot, as it turns out. Because there’s more to this little town than meets the eye – namely, gruesome murders, hidden agendas, and a magical secret society.
Titillating as that might sound, I had a really hard time staying invested in Haven. It took me multiple tries to read, and at one point I made it as far as 70% of the way through the book before once again abandoning it for several months. To be perfectly honest, I would have left it as a “did not finish” except that I’d requested Haven through Netgalley and didn’t think it was fair to just give up.
One of the reasons I had a hard time with Haven was Freddie, the fierce and rebellious teenage girl at the heart of the town’s various intrigues. Rain is immediately drawn to Freddie’s wildness, and the more she tries to push him away (in classic Edward-and-Bella fashion), the more stubbornly Rain insists on sticking by her. It’s instalove – or at least instalust – at its finest, though I couldn’t understand what Rain finds so compelling about Freddie. (Perhaps the fact that she randomly shows up naked in unexpected places and lets him jump her in a supply closet at school from time to time? Who knows.) She lacks the charisma and depth that I look for in a heroine/love interest, and I just wasn’t feeling the relationship between her and Rain.
Rain himself is interesting enough, thank goodness. His upbringing – living with a drug-addicted mother who blamed him for ruining her life, constantly dodging law enforcement and criminals alike, never knowing where his next meal was going to come from – grants him a unique perspective that’s a refreshing change from other male protagonists I’ve read about.
“On the streets, it seemed like he had nothing to live for. Now, for the first time in his life, he had something to die for.”
As far as the plot and world building, there’s a lot of potential that’s never fully realized. There are some clever rules to the magic in the story, and important roles that the townspeople play in keeping said magic under control, but I feel the author could have gone a lot farther with all of it. Also, a lot of the plot points are predictable, and the “bad guys” feel cartoonish and unoriginal. Despite a promising setting, a decent protagonist, and some fun sexy times, Haven just didn’t do it for me.