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Series: Stained #2
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
With Cayne’s fate in the hands of his enemies and Julia spirited away to the covert Stained compound, the two are separated by impenetrable walls and a gulf of unanswered questions. Soon Julia learns the truth about the Stained and the plans they have for her, the compound is attacked, and a new group is running from an unwanted destiny, searching the globe in pursuit of the knowledge that just might save them all.
She let her hands hang at her sides and Julia just… watched.
These were other Stained.
Not that prick Nathan or his lieutenant, Andrew. Just… Stained. Other Stained, maybe like her.
First off: before I begin, lemme just say that this will be my first time in a long time (if not ever) reviewing a book after a significant amount of time has passed between finishing and writin’ the review. I may have difficulty gettin’ anything I wanna say straight.
But fuck it.
It’s actually because the ending snuck up on me, and that would be because this book is entirely too short considering what it has goin’ on in it and the MASSIVE cliffhangery hell that was the end of Stained.
In Stolen, Julia has been more or less kidnapped by other Stained–they call themselves Chosen–and she learned a little bit about what it means to be such a thing while at the same time planning how to rescue Cayne from captivity and maneuvering her way around the underground compound the Chosen stay in.
Meredith, a Chosen who can “sense things,” befriends Julia immediately, and while Julia distrusts her at first–she distrusts all Chosen–they eventually warm up. There’s a whole host of useless other almost-friends that are more meaningless than worth mentioning, and this one guy named Edan who is “seriously hot” or somethin’.
So, Stolen wasn’t bad. A little meandering, but not bad. What made it bad for me was, aside from the atrociously preteenish writing (Julia seems to have regressed in age to an 11-year-old as she narrates), Julia’s constant back-and-forth between wanting to rescue Cayne and wanting to abandon him at the mercy of several terrible situations merely for not getting around to telling her something.
The thing is–Cayne already had told her. Time and time again in Stained, Cayne told Julia he was bad, he had murdered, he was a Hunter, and they shouldn’t feel any kind of way towards each other because of those things. But, when in Stolen Julia finds out all this again (except GASP turns out he’s killed a few Chosen–Stained–in his time SURPRISE!!!), she instantly turns her back on thoughts of their being together because all of a sudden this tiny sliver of new information (it’s really not new; he TOLD her before…) transforms him into some kind of unlovable thing now.
He shrugged and glanced at Julia, and she could sense his aloneness within the group; she looked down at her shoes, unwilling to bring him into the fold. Even if she felt totally A-okay with the Chosen-killer thing (which, of course, she never would), he’d still betrayed her. Lied by omission.
Yeah, but he also held you while you cried.
And still, she didn’t know…
Meaning, naturally, her feelings towards him. Like… what?! Cayne moves heaven and earth for this girl time and time again (even going so far as to save like 5 of her “friends” in the middle of a gigantic fight when they all cower and snarl at the mere mention of him), and because someone she doesn’t even like says one little thing about him that shouldn’t even matter, she spends the ENTIRE BOOK ignoring Cayne, letting him feel less than he is, sometimes even making him feel worse, hurting him… I found her behavior despicable.
Especially when — this is the best part — all her THOUGHTS were geared toward her shying away from the idea of them being together anymore, all her WORDS were geared towards rescuing him from the Chosen compound, demanding to see him when he was in captivity, defending his honor when others bad-mouth him… but only when he’s not there. As soon as he is at her side again, she switches to a totally different girl intent on being as two-faced as humanly possible.
Cayne looked away, like being talked about was embarrassing him, and despite her lingering Cayne ambivalence, Julia wanted to kiss Meredith for taking up for him.
I don’t know if this has anything to do with my recent completion of Broken by C. K. Bryant (fun fact: I also read Bound by C. K. Bryant and Stained closely together same as I’ve read their sequels almost back to back), but the SAME THING happened there: Octavion loved the daylights out of Kira, and all it took was a simple misunderstanding, a single second in time, to reverse all his hard work in showing her — showing, not just telling — that very truth.
It drove me insane with Cayne and Julia because in Stained, they were seriously perfect in a you’re-not-perfect-but-you’re-perfect-for-me kind of way. I know it’s still in there somewhere because Julia thinks about him all the time, whether it’s in a negative “he’s a Chosen-killer!!!1” light or a positive light.
Her captor roared, and then he stopped flying. Julia shrieked as gravity tugged them, but a moment later a new set of arms had her.
She knew him by feel: hard and comforting.
AND CAYNE (even more so than Octavion) IS THE SWEETEST THING EVER. He just sits there and takes the emotional abuse from Julia, thinking he DESERVES it, and being the ultimate sweetheart even when she will barely look at him much less speak to him.
Moving slowly, so slowly and carefully, maybe so she wouldn’t fear him, Cayne laced his bruised fingers through hers. Looking into her eyes, seeking her permission even as he moved, he rose on his knees and kissed her knuckles. Releasing her hands after a little squeeze, he wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head on her lap.
Just… like… why do all the hardasses-turned-sweethearts have to get shit on so bad all the time?! I’d write a book to rectify that only I don’t do sweet characters so well. :\ Maybe I should try anyway! For the Caynes and Octavions of modern literature!
Obviously, if that’s all I can think about after givin’ it a few days to stew, then I had nothing else of import to say that left an impression. Goodness.