Dark Seeker (Seeker #1)
My first problem with Dark Seeker is the lack of world-building. Why are Seekers allowed to hunt the undead from such a young age (fourteen, according to Janie)? Janie mentions that she has already experienced ages 14-17 once, and is now on her second time going through those same ages. Why does this happen? How does this happen? Do Seekers wake up one day and are all of a sudden a few years younger? Janie's mother used to be a Seeker - why isn't she out patrolling with her daughter as backup? Why would an organization entrust the safety of an entire city (Baltimore) to a teenager? Wouldn't it better serve their cause to have several Seekers in one area, who are all slightly older and more experienced? What's the history of the Seekers - how did they come to be? What power does the Chapter hold over them? NONE of these questions are even touched on, and I found the plot lacked credibility because of the lack of answers.
My second issue lies with the protagonist, Janie. Having been trained from a young age how to be a Seeker, she shows a remarkable lack of respect for all of her training the moment she meets Kai. After being rescued by Kai from a daychildren attack, Janie first threatens to kill him, and then strikes up a conversation with him about how he's different from other daychildren. For the rest of the book, Kai mysteriously shows up in time to save Janie from every single fight she enters - and she needs him to save her. It's not like she had the situation under control, and his presence was unnecessary; without Kai, Janie would have been dead within the first few chapters. Not only does Kai need to rescue Janie from several situations, some she knowingly enters without being prepared out of pure stubbornness, Janie spends little time actually fighting. She is constantly reaching for her Cherokee dagger, entering into her "fighting stance" and then being knocked unconscious before she can show off any of her moves. How I'm supposed to believe she has persevered for seven years without Kai's aid, or that she has been extensively trained to combat the undead is completely beyond me. I guess I erroneously assumed that someone trained to kill the undead would be capable of doing that job.
My biggest issue, however, has to do with the "love" story (and I'm using the term love EXTREMELY loosely). Dark Seeker suffers from a frightening trend in YA fantasy, that of a borderline-abusive relationship that is portrayed as being romantic. Kai is constantly telling Janie what she can and can not do, what situations are too dangerous and whether or not she is allowed to go somewhere without him. He is constantly picking her up and carrying her, ignoring any protest she gives about being able to walk on her own. He shows up in her room, and refuses to leave. He forcibly restrains her in several situations, and she admits that she is completely powerless to move because his strength far surpasses her own. When Janie tries to break off her relationship with him, he practically begs her to stay with him because he can't live without her - she's the first person he's been able to tell his history to and it would destroy him if she were to leave him. By the end of the book, Janie is encouraging his thoughts of being unable to live without her.
"Without you, I don't want to live." She drew back from him. "Do you mean it? Don't say it if you don't mean it."
THIS IS NOT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP! To top it all off, Kai reveals a secret that most people would have a hard time forgiving. After the initial shock wears off (in all of five minutes), Janie is telling him that he is forgiven and needs to let go of his guilt - meanwhile Kai is going on about how he's not good for her and that she will eventually resent him. So for the rest of the book Janie is distressed over whether Kai will be able to forgive himself and whether he will stay with her. Ugh, the melodrama was so over-the-top I couldn't help but roll my eyes. How did Kai revealing an almost unforgivable truth turn in to Janie begging him to stay with her? Shouldn't it have been the other way around?
Lastly the writing was oddly disjointed and very poorly structured. I had a hard time sorting out when it was night versus when it was day, whether they were at Janie's school or her house, whether it was Janie or Kai talking, etc., - everything seemed to jump around without warning and I was constantly caught off-guard.
I wanted to like Dark Seeker, but as I'm having a hard time coming up with anything positive to say, I'm left feeling quite disappointed.