Friday, January 6, 2012

Betrayal (Haunting Emma #2) by Lee Nichols

Publisher: Bloomsbury Teens
Pages: 288
Series or Stand Alone: Book 2 in the Haunting Emma trilogy
SummaryEmma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she's battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she's flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and soul mate) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that's not something Bennett can handle. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school with fellow ghostkeeper, Natalie. When a new team of ghostkeepers arrive-one a snarky teen
boy, the other a British scholar-Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. One they thought was good.
As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor.


Betrayal is the second installment in the Haunting Emma series. Due to my series thing (i.e., the desire to continue a series even if I’m not crazy about the plot or characters) I moved on to the second book.
Not thrilled with the idea of losing his powers as a result of being with Emma, the most powerful ghostkeeper of their times, Bennett goes off in search of a solution to his increasing weakness. This solution happens to be asarum (wild ginger), which acts as a drug for ghostkeepers, but we’ll get back to that in a bit. Emma starts training as a team with her bitchy human friend Natalie from California (who is actually a ghostkeeper that helped Bennett get Emma away from the danger around her home), the rebellious Lukas, and Simon, their slightly older British mentor figure. At first less than thrilled with the new situation, Emma learns to work within her team. She also trains with the Rake—the original Bennett Stern who hangs around as a ghost, punishing himself for failing to keep the original Emma safe. The training for the battle against Neos is gong well until Emma experiences a BETRAYAL at the hands of a friend (title mention! Take a shot!)
While these books still are not my favorites, I must say that I enjoyed this one far more than the first. The writing became more consistent and Emma became less annoying. Bennett’s absense from the majority of the book forces her to actually forge connections with other living people (and some dead ones). I especially enjoyed her friendship with Natalie. They are alike in many ways (both being teenage girl ghostkeepers that end up ripped from the lives they’ve known in order to bring down some sort of big bad) but Natalie’s scary-religious-to-the-point-of-abusive parents brings an interesting dimension to their relationship. Emma was brought into this life but can still return to her family whenever they pop up—but Natalie is completely, on hundred percent in this. She doesn’t have a choice anymore, and that causes some strain every once and awhile.
Emma’s relationship with ghost Coby is far more interesting than their relationship was when he was alive. While he was alive, he was the all-American boy next door who liked Emma even though she didn’t really return the feelings. In death he becomes her companion, a source of guilt or friendship depending on the day. His death made their relationship far more complex than his (unreturned) crush on her in book one.
One thing that bothered me was that Emma and Bennett never quite dealt with the whoe are-we-only-together-because-we’re-damned-to-repeat-the-patterns-of-the-Emmas-and-Bennetts-that-were thing. I think the whole “destined to be together” thing is incredibly problematic and usually raises free will questions in those to which it applies. However, Bennett and Emma’s relationship was more interesting this time around. I’m still not thrilled with Bennett’s characterization, but Bennett on asarum is far more interesting than his former self. I know that other reviewers were upset with his prior life choice but I found his drug addiction endearing. Before, he didn’t have much of a personality outside of his Britishness and adoration of Emma, but the drug addiction adds at least a hint of mystery. Also, at least he’s getting shit done.
Betrayal stepped up the game for the Haunting Emma series. Nichols added characters that fleshed out Emma’s character a little and brought more of her ass-kicking potential to the surface. Bennett’s life decisions make him more intriguing and I became a bit curious about what was going to happen with his and Emma’s relationship in the third one, though I’m decently sure that they end up together. Regardless. Betrayal was better than Deception.

Rating: 3 –  okay/good.

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