Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bound by C.K. Bryant (Book Review)

I know I promised shorter posts, but I had a hard time cutting this one down.

Bound by C. K. Bryant is like a YA Paranormal with romance, tension, action, and suspense. It also adds elements of magic, alchemy, and pseudo-science fiction to create a unique backdrop that shows off strong characters and compelling scenes.

The story starts with Kira—your typical high school girl—and her best friend Lydia, then continues to grow in scope all the way through to the end.

As a debut novel, Christine delivers a good story. She has strong scenes and does an excellent job evoking emotion. For me, the story slowed down in the middle, but it picked up at the end in a big way. Christine writes strong, complex characters with internal motivations and feelings.

If you're not into indie published books because of the low quality, you don't have to worry about this one. The whole book from cover, to layout, to editing was clean and very professional.

(Warning: A few minor spoilers ahead.)

There was one aspect of the story that bothered me so much, I almost didn't write this review. Octavion, the male lead in the story, has several weaknesses. One of them is physical aggression. This is not new to the YA Paranormal genre, but in this story it crossed the line to physical abuse.

I've known several women who have lived through abuse, and I guess that makes me especially sensitive. It is devastating. The women I know still feel its effects many, many years later.

I'm not telling you these things to scare you away from this book, but I need to tell you a few more things.

During the story Octavion shoves Kira several times, slams her against a tree, chokes her, holds her bodily against a car while she tries to escape, drugs her, kidnaps her, takes her to a place he knows is dangerous and she ends up breaking her arm, etc. After each of these episodes, he is extremely apologetic and even ashamed. Which is pretty typical in an abusive relationship.

With all this in mind, I was surprised to read the following reviews:

"Octavion . . . gives opportunities for swooning if you're the swooning type." - Mere Motherhood

"Believe me, Octavion will make you swoon." - Writing 4 Me

"Favorite moments involve a waterfall and a shirtless hottie named Octavian, . . . and some great kissing scenes that leave Kira—the main character—and the reader breathless." - Randomish

"Octavion . . . is a total hottie." - Rachelle's Writing Spot

"Octavion from Bound is one of my favorite new heroes, and I have to say, I'm a happily married woman, but he did make my heart go pitty-pat at least a couple of times." - Tristi Pinkston

"Octavian is a hot bundle of man that I'd love to meet one day." - Cindy M. Hogan

Then I realized something. Christine got it right.

There is something in the psyche of a woman that is drawn to the dangerous man. Just like there is something in the male psyche drawn to the mean girl. It's not an admirable part of us, but it's there. And Christine captured it in her story.

The real world is not a perfect place, and neither is Bound. I know Octavion can find redemption someday, but I hope it's with someone else and after he spends a couple years in prison because Kira deserves so much better.

It's not often that a fiction story (and a YA Paranormal at that) makes me think about a topic this deeply. I've wrestled my thoughts and emotions for weeks. I feel I have a better understanding why women stay in these dangerous relationships. So, I encourage you to go out and read the book, then let me know what you think in the comments.


Christine said...


Thank you so much for your honest review. You've said some very nice things about my writing style and the story and I want you to know it did not go unnoticed.

While I completely agree with your take on abuse and sympathize with women who are in abusive relationships, I do have to stick up for my character, Octavion. For one thing, HE IS NOT HUMAN. He has the heart of a wild beast and is doing everything he can to control it. Something that would never happen in the real world.

I honestly struggled with making him a good guy, with fewer flaws and less depth, but the story fell flat and his character wasn't believable. I feel his struggle to survive this world and the weaknesses it causes him to suffer are what makes him who he is. Yes, he's a bad boy, especially in the beginning, but he grows and overcomes his wild side and Kira's kind heart has a lot to do with that.

Again, thank you for your review and all the kind words. And I'm sorry if it brought up some bad feelings and emotions for you.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I completely agree with both of you. It's not right for a man to be abusive to a woman, and John, I admire you for taking this stand and for being the kind of man you are, who shows everyone, man and woman alike, with utmost respect.

As Christine said, though, I was able to overlook that aspect because he wasn't human. I didn't hold him to the same standard that I would have if he had been human. If he were, there's no way I would have enjoyed the book - abusive men aren't fun to read about, at all.

Incidentally, I also don't hold Edward and Bella's relationship to the same standard as I do human-human relationships. When someone says, "I just want my daughter to know what to do if they ever find themselves in the same situation," I chuckle. So, if their daughter falls in love with a vampire, she'll be prepared? No, teach her how to be in a relationship with a boy. A human boy. Not a vampire.

Same goes here. Animal-human relationships are going to be very different. It doesn't make abuse right, but it does put it in a different light. He's fighting himself all the time.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I've received my copy but haven't had a chance to read it yet. So much to think about when I do.

John Waverly said...

I thought about that--the whole human-animal relationship, but I disagree with your conclusion. Here's a hypothetical situation: if you owned a dog that viciously barked at a teenage girl, mauled her, and caused her to break her arm would you expect the animal to be taken and euthanized? I think so. Our society wouldn't tolerate that kind of human-animal relationship and your neighbor's dog isn't 1/1000 as human as Octavian. We wouldn't even tolerate that kind of behavior from a wild animal.

I'm not suggesting Octavian should be killed. Far from it. Because he IS sentient, he has the ability to change.

Sure Octavian has animal tendencies and I think this makes him a fascinating character. We can talk about his internal motivations all we want, but the fact remains that he perpetrated quite a few crimes many of which would leave Kira psychologically scarred. I hope Octavian finds redemption, but I also hope he pays for the real harm he's done. So far, I don't see that.

This might make an interesting facet of the next book--which I'm going to read. I hope the sequel doesn't flinch away from other disturbing issues. This book made me think deeply, and I appreciate that.

Carolyn Twede Frank said...

I had the same feelings about Octavian as you did, John. I didn't like that part of the book, but then I am just one opinion who happens to have a different taste in their male characters. It didn't mean it wasn't a good story.

Anonymous said...

As a victim of abuse I can't imagine excusing physical agression just because the man isn't human. Hitting, agression, abuse, they're all the same.

While an adult should be able to look at these characters in the books and say, "It's fiction, it's not real, etc." We're not dealing with adults.

Both Twilight and Bound are YA and written for young girls who are hormone driven and not old enough to allways make the distinction between good and bad, lust and love and acknowledge that what someone thinks is protection is actually control.

While there is the issue I want to congratulate Christine on an apparently great book. (I haven't read it yet)

Danyelle Ferguson said...

This is a very interesting discussion. I've read the book and had a lot of the same feelings about Octavion as John brought up here.

I agree with Anonymous, about how YA books effect how teen girls view relationships - what's acceptable and what isn't. Although, honestly, I feel the same way about books for women. I don't like romance novels that portray the guy as controlling or who does something mean, but is forgiven when he brings her roses.

I also want to say that I like how everyone is discussing things and not getting into heated debates. Thanks so much for respecting each other!

Anonymous said...

I agree with John.

Furthermore, to accept (thereby condone) reprehensible actions of protagonist simply because he is not human is...well...silly at best - hypocritical at worst.

Hypocritical because we cannot have it both ways. Emotion is elicited in readers because they relate to the story. They feel a connection. They vicariously live through the character. We cannot intentionally create that human emotion using romance, and then excuse a portion of it because "it's okay because he's a vampire and, well, everyone knows vampires like to abuse their women."

The connection is there, and with it comes any moral-message baggage left behind by the narrator.

Certainly a million arguments can be given against this opinion. Yes, characters must have flaws. Characters can be harmful, weak, sinful. They can get away with their evil deeds, just as the good guys can, and often should, fail.

But such actions come at a price nonetheless. Perhaps not in the plot, but in the moral message of the narrative.

I have not read Bound, and so am not implying anything beyond the scope of this general topic.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this candid and thoughtful review.

I was initially confused upon reading other reviews of Bound that described Octavian as 'a hunk' and sexy, while at the same time 'dangerous' and sometimes violent.

I wondered, "if he's dangerous and violent, how can he possibly be the 'sexy hero?'"

I was glad to find a review that clarified this for me, and I do also appreciate the discussion that's followed.

B Hamlett said...

This comment is more in response to the comments left of this review, especially to those who have not yet read the book, than it is to the actual review itself. I feel that John wrote a great review regarding both sides of this book, even if I don’t agree 100% with him about Octavion ...
Though I am an adult and mother now, it wasn’t that long ago that I was an awkward teenage girl. So awkward and out of place that I spent my days in a corner with my nose in a book. In most of my reading I found that while each book had a different title and characters, the books all read the same. I knew the end of the book before I was half way through. They were so predictable it was ridiculous. I hated that every male character was flawed, then in chapter five suddenly realizes the error of his ways and becomes an entirely different person. Their love is put to the test, it looks as though all hope is lost, then in the last chapter or two they manage to come back together. Through the years I have continued to read a lot, and I have read few books that were good enough to remember or read again. From the YA genre I have a few faves. I loved the Twilight series, I loved the Harry Potter Series, and I loved Bound.
In Bound Octavion is a hunky, aggressive, animalistic, and extremely flawed character. Though he behaves horribly, we are given the opportunity to be in his head, and to understand what he is suffering through. We don’t just see him be aggressive then give some lame excuse and it’s all ok. Personally, I feel if Octavion had a few chapters of bad behavior then was suddenly able to control every animal instinct the story would have seemed as disposable as many of the others I have read. In Twilight Edward wanted to kill Bella so badly, that he contemplated killing the entire class on her first day, then what seems somewhat easily, at least from Bella’s point of view, he is able to be with her constantly and without incident on his part. I feel Octavion’s struggle is more believable than that. Also, because of Edward (and Jacob’s) involvement Bella was brought into a dangerous world that resulted in injuries, hospitalization, an entire army of vampires vying for her death, and ultimately the end of her human life and conversion to being a vampire.
We would never want that kind of danger for a girl in the real world, but take it away from a fiction story and what are you left with but the same tired story with new names and places? We also have to remember that this is book one in a seven part series. The lives of the characters, their personal growth, and their relationships have a long way to go. Simply put, without the danger, the animalistic side Octavion is trying to overcome, and the other truly abusive and evil characters, there would not be a story worth writing a review about. I just hope no one will condemn this book without actually taking the time to read it, because it was wonderful! I loved that C.K. Bryant’s book was original, that it didn’t feel like anything else I have read. That it gave me original characters, beings, worlds, and happenings. I loved this book and think C.K. did a wonderful job making it believable

John Waverly said...

I took a couple weeks off at the end of the year. I probably should have stopped by here and left a comment or two, but the vacation was just too wonderful. :)

I've read all the comments as they've come through in email. I appreciate everyone's honesty and civility. I have the best readership in the world.

I did want to touch on one point.

I know this review had some negative parts, but based on the comments I think most people saw the positive in the book too. My review policy is that I don't post negative reviews. I really do encourage everyone to go out and read this book.

I also hope my review gives some context to this very divisive topic, and I hope people won't write this story off. There's a lot of merit here.

Again, thanks everyone for this discussion.

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