I’d like to start by saying that I know that this is some people’s favourite book/series. I am not one of those people. I do not consider myself to be a particularly harsh reviewer. I always attempt to keep things as balanced as possible and, as yet, I haven’t ever marked a book did-not-finish. But every now and then a book will come along that just makes you want to punch something. For me, Stealing Phoenix was it.
Well now, let’s see. The idea was cool – criminal gang with special powers? Sign me up! And the story is set in the UK. Brilliant! The plot was fairly engrossing, I guess, what with the star-crossed lovers and the dramatic rescues and… um… I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing.
Where do I even start? Everything I disliked about the first book was amplified tenfold in this one to the point where I hated every other sentence I was reading. The writing felt so much worse than it was in the first book; it was unbelievably cheesy and the climax, if you can call it that, lacked any kind of tension. So. Stupid.
And then there’s the romance. Oh boy. Brace yourselves guys because I’m going to be here for a while. First off: insta-love. Now I know this is a novel centred on the idea of soulmates but for the love of god, please do not use this as an excuse to force two characters together that have absolutely zero chemistry with one another. I’m supposed to believe that their worlds practically revolve around each other and yet Yves constantly acts as though he’s completely and utterly insensitive to Phoenix’s needs/feelings. I’m not kidding when I say that he and the other members of the Benedict family make literally all of her choices for her, as though she can’t be trusted to know what’s best for her, weak and damaged as she is. Give me a break.
As a main character, Phoenix is an exceptionally weak individual with all the agency of a limp dishcloth, reduced to being nothing more than an object to be acted upon. She is always listening but is seemingly never allowed to actually do anything, with the exception of a couple of half-assed attempts to run away from Yves (which never last long because he’s supposedly just too damn irrisistable) before displaying a remarkable lack of free will, sticking with him purely because they are ‘soulfinders’ until, unsurprisingly, she grows to love him. Gag me with a spoon.
While we’re on the subject of Yves Benedict, I would hardly consider him to be ideal boyfriend material. Far from it. He is in fact a patronising, overprotective, possessive and controlling douchebag. In case it wasn’t clear, I am not a fan. From where I was sitting there was a distinctly hypocritical type of one-way trust going on whereby Phee would be constantly encouraged to trust him but would never receive the same courtesy in return. Similarly, in Yves Benedict’s world, communication is for other people. Phee would try to be open and honest and get told absolutely nothing in return. And we all know how well a plan works when half of the people involved are out of the loop. Not. What I found most hilarious though, was the way that whenever something went wrong it would always somehow be her fault.
Just… no. I’m sorry people but this was not great. Half a star. There was a handful of redeeming qualities but not enough to save this story. I have kept this as brief as possible because honestly I could do a whole entire angry book report on the relationship between the main characters alone. Right now I’m going to take a deep breath and thank the gods of literature that this book was a quick read.