Review: Vala: Agenda by J.F Jenkins
Title: Vala: Agenda
Author: J.F. Jenkins
Series: Vala: Agenda # 1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I received this novel free of charge from the author.
Cheyenne Loveless was just a boring sixteen-year-old girl. Then Denver Collins bit her and everything changed. Her plants start talking to her, she finds out she’s a Nymph, and a witch and the angel of death show up at her doorstep to take her away to the prestigious Vala School and Seminary. Oh, and she has no choice in the matter.
All she wants to do is blend in and return to being invisible, but the more time that passes, the harder that becomes. Plus she’s a daughter of the Divine, an exclusive secret society which rules the world of myth, and discovers she is a key ingredient to an ancient covenant created before she was born. A covenant that will reshape the order of the world.
Adjusting to a new school is difficult enough, but adding on everyone else’s hidden agendas is the icing on the cake. Cheyenne must learn to see through the lies in order to find her place — and possibly even love — in this new world.
What I will remember: The retelling of the myth of Persephone
I have a feeling that this novel will elicit mixed responses from readers. On the one hand, there are great secondary characters, especially on the dark side and on the other hand, there might disenchantment with the main character, Cheyenne. The plot wasn’t really interesting to me because it’s” a girl goes to a special school where she is supposed to evolve into herself but nothing really happens until the end.” The characters are what makes the novel worth reading and the ending of the novel.
Let’s talk about what is great about this novel, the secondary characters. The secondary characters are so much interesting than Cheyenne because they appear to be more complex than Cheyenne gives them credit for. Mr. Thantos is an amazing character. He is Cheyenne’s teacher and he is a fallen angel with beautiful broken wings. He is very blunt with his words and is a strong character with a special affection for cats. How awesome is that. There is Denver who is not a vampire but has blood sucking tendencies. He is fascinating in that Cheyenne would like to portrayed him as a villain yet he is sweet in a weird and dark way. Not quite sure what to make of him. The character I love is Lucian, he might be the reincarnation of Hades so I’m rooting for him (how typical of me). He is a dark and suave character who has a tale that needs to be heard.
Cheyenne’s friends are twins guys Anj and Zes, Halyn (her roommate), and her frenemy Jewl. I might be seriously misinterpreting their characters but it is hard to like them. I don’t trust the twins because there is something off with them. Too many secrets with them and Anj has already proven that he is capable of using people for his own benefit. I love nerds, I really do but Zes puts me on edge because of the weird relationship he has with Anj. Halyn is all right. Jewl is the ex-girlfriend of Anj. She might be the only I liked because she is assertive of herself and is not afraid to fight dirty.
Cheyenne herself is what hinders the novel from being truly great. She is going to a special school for gifted children yet she never uses her powers or knows what her powers are besides talking to plants. She doesn’t use her abilities and constantly relies on others to save her. She is a very weak protagonist. She is a Divine child, meaning the child of a goddess but we never know what that entitles and that could possibly be save for the second book. Her attitude towards her adoptive mother is also troubling. Cheyenne hates her adoptive mother for not revealing she was adopted but how does a person forgot the connection they have to the person they considered “mother”? Cheyenne embraces her true parents and doesn’t really get mad at them for leaving her in the hands of a stranger. She is strangely calm in understanding and accepting what they said without fully understanding what they were trying to protect her from. There should be anger for both parties on behalf of Cheyenne yet it is one-sided. It safe to say that I strongly dislike her parents even if her mother carries my name, Persephone.
What truly saves the novel for me is the ending. That’s where the plot actually picks up and we have intrigue for the second novel. Lucian as the antagonist repeats history by kidnaping Cheyenne (since she is the reincarnation of Persephone). Cheyenne’s parents are truly mad about this which I don’t understand because Persephone and Hades are meant to be together. Why does the current Persephone resists what should be natural? What could be wrong in their unity? There is a power structure that is not reveal in this novel that could be thrown into chaos by the unity of the reincarnated Persephone and Hades. I’m looking forward to seeing it come apart because Persephone and Hades should be together.
The myth of Persephone is important to the storyline because Cheyenne is a descendant of Persephone. Initially, I wanted to stop reading once Jenkins stated that Persephone betrayed Hades and apparently did not married him. That was a huge “No” moment. It’s not that Persephone wouldn’t have run away from Hades if she had a chance at the beginning of their courtship. It just this new addition displaces the myth itself. However, the ending of the novel reveals that the original Persephone truly loved Hades and is now trying to reunite with him. (It please me to no end to know that they are seeking each other out). It still leaves a bitter taste though. (Obviously, I’m dissatisfied with this version because of who I am).
In the end, the plot is weak and Cheyenne is not my favorite protagonist. However, the secondary characters are fantastic and the underlying politics such as the unity of Persephone and Hades causing mayhem is interesting. I will read the second book because Hades (or Lucian) need to make a stronger appearance . The storyline has great potential but it just might come in the second book. Plus, I need to see Persephone and Hades happy together so I’ll be reading the second book.
35th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: YA Mythology, First in a Series, E-book,