Captivate - Carrie Jones “What happens to us all is partially up to me and it is my job, my duty, to protect my friends”
Zara, Nick, Issie, and Devyn maintain a tenuous hold on normality. Sure, Zara is half-pixie, Nick is a werewolf and Devyn is a were-eagle, and the entire gang keeps a watch for new pixies, but life goes on. Until a new pixie king arrives warning of danger to come.

I Liked:
The primary new character in the book, Astley, was very welcomed. Even though it is obvious he is supposed to be part of the budding Romantic Triangle (see below for my thoughts on that), I felt he brought interesting dimension to the book. Up to this point, all the pixies that have been shown are mean, evil, controlled by their “needs”. Astley shows the Big Four (Zara, Nick, Issie, and Devyn) that pixies don't have to be evil...they have a choice.
Which brings me to the amazing themes in this book. I don't normally talk about themes in a review, but there are so many good, important lessons in here (unlike in many other teenaged vampire romance novels) that I just have to spend some time talking about them.
Firstly, Zara may be dating Nick, she may love him dearly, but never once does she let him govern her life. In fact, she even declares (page 195): “He didn't make my choices for me when he was here and he's not going to start now”. This is a great message to young women, a counter to our culture and other media that tell women that A) they need a man (something else this book also counters, see page 268 and 120) and B) once they have a man, the man makes all the decisions. This is one big reason I adore Zara as a character. She is independent, she makes her own thoughts, she takes life in her own hands and actually does something to change her destiny and save her friends.
The second big theme is bigotry. Let's face it, before Astley arrives, the Big Four believe all pixies are inherently bad and can't be redeemed. Hence why capturing them in an iron clad house is okay—because they can't change from their evil selves. The best way I can detail this change in thought is to quote the book once again (page 233): “Bigotry isn't that straight and easy. It isn't there and then suddenly gone. It's like a bad germ waiting to pounce and infect you even when you think an antibiotic has eradicated it from your system.”
Carrie Jones used Captivate to include more Norse mythology, a very welcome change of pace from the oversaturation of “traditional” vampires and faerie mythology. This is the first time I've read of Valhalla and Valkyries in a young adult novel, as well as were-tigers, eages, and bears. I honestly can't wait to see what else she includes and definitely want to do more research into Norse mythology.
I also liked how Jones added more action to this book. The second half especially gets pretty intense—even Issie, our dear sweet girl, takes up a crossbow to fend off pixies attacking Betty's house (talk about intense!).

I Didn't Like:
One of the things that made Need such a wonderful book was its decidedly ominous, creepy tone. It was less “urban fantasy” and borderline horror (Stephen King, Dean Koontz). Well, that sense of foreboding is pretty much gone in Captivate. There is no building tension, building horror, no wanting to peer behind your shoulder in paranoia. It's just straight-laced young adult urban fantasy.
While I liked Astley as a character, I groaned at the inclusion of the obligatory Romantic Triangle. Why does every novel have to have two guys competing for our heroine's affections? I wasn't that fond of Nick (and again, I like Astley), but I am so tired of treading this road. No matter how much I want Zara to go with Astley, I am afraid (per Romantic Lead Rule #57) that it will all be for naught and Zara will end up with Nick in the end.
And the writing! It wasn't that long ago that I read Need, in which Carrie Jones handled the first person present really well (it isn't that easy to use). Here, it is literally like I am reading a sixth grade short story assignment. I try not to dole that complaint out a lot (it tends to lose its meaning), but seriously, the writing here is positively atrocious and embarrassing. Sentences are constructed at about the third grade reading level. “I saw the cat jump up the tree. The cat was yellow and fat.” This strikes me as odd A) because Need wasn't written that way and B) this is in the young adult section, not the children. And in case you think I'm lying, here are some excerpts that I happened to note:
Page 118: “I am not who you should be worried about.” [said Astley] I shake my head. “...Of course you're who I should worry about.” (Okay, I know it's dialogue, but why does Zara all of a sudden phrase things exactly like Astley?)
Page 168: “Something wet falls from my face and hits his cheek. Tears.” No duh, really? Tears? Let me guess: they are also Zara's tears! D'oh! This sort of “revelation” or “style” is repeated ad nauseum.
Page 196: “ I will shower. I will shower and think. I will shower and think and not shake. I will shower and think and not shake and I will imagine what it'll be like to see Nick again.” Good GOD IN HEAVEN! I get the point! No need to repeat the same thing in triplicate to make sure the audience knows.
In the first half, the story is incredibly boring. I can see where Jones is including hints to what is to come (Valkyries, Valhalla, Astley, etc.), but while waiting for this interesting stuff to take place, we have to suffer through romantic melodrama between Devyn and Issie and Cassidy (rolls eyes) and the romantic googly eyes that Zara and Nick exchange (just old after awhile).
Betty and Mrs. Nix are absent for a lot of the book, which was a shame. Both of them were really interesting. I also kept wondering what happened to Zara's pixie father.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Cr*p, da**, and he** are as extreme as it gets.
Zara and Nick exchange kisses (Zara explicitly says they haven't had sex). Devyn, Issie, and Cassidy are part of their own Romantic Triangle. There is the needs the pixies have, which could be construed possibly as sexual needs (not sure though).
This book is way more violent than the last one. Zara kills at least three pixies, and it is fairly detailed. Nick is abducted; Zara is injured on two occasions.

Compared to Need, this is a disappointment. The creepy edge is gone and the writing itself has plummeted. Even the plot starts off weakly. Fortunately, the second half and the inclusion of very empowering themes of acceptance and independence make up for the beginning and the clunky writing. Plus, Jones begins to hint at an enormous battle, which is definitely more interesting than the objectives of other teenaged urban fantasy (“Does so-and-so get X or Y?”). 3.5 stars rounded generously to 4 stars.