By: Celine | September 23, 2014 | (25) Comments

Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather DemetriosExquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: The Dark Caravan, #1
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

If I have to sum up Exquisite Captive with one word, it would be “disappointed”. I had high hopes for this one, since I’d heard such great things about Demetrios’ other novel, Something Real. I’m still interested in that one, but it’s always a sad day when a book you had high hopes for didn’t deliver.

Exquisite Captive is not all bad. Its concept, that of jinnis, was highly original and I loved that aspect. Demetrios obviously put quite some research in this novel and the world building is rich. It can be a bit much at times, especially because all the different jinni have different names and worship different gods. There is a guide in the beginning, but as I was reading an eARC, that didn’t help much. I can really imagine it’ll be helpful for people reading a physical copy, though. In Exquisite Captive, there are five types of jinni: those who can control one of the elements (fire, water, air, earth) and also those who can control all four (called the Ghan Aisouri).

Our main character, Nalia, is the last living Ghan Aisouri and also a little bit a Mary Sue. She has her faults, of course, but come on: she’s the last one of her race, which just happens to be the most powerful in all of Ardjinna and Earth. Aside from her slight Mary Sue-ishness, I didn’t have much trouble with Nalia. To be honest, she was mostly a blank slate for me. I never really connected with her or felt for her, which I believe is mostly due to the writing. The style of the novel is distant, focussed mostly on building an atmosphere and adding to the world Demetrios set up. Though both atmosphere and world building are, indeed, highly present, it does cost the characters and – for me- the heart of the story.

My main issue with Exquisite Captive, though, is the romance. There is a bit of a love triangle, though it’s not in the foreground. One half of the love triangle is Raif, who was mostly okay though a bit bossy and blank. Nalia and Raif’s “developing” relationship, however, isn’t really all that developed. In fact, I’d dare call it instalove. Though there is a bit of a build-up, I just don’t think it’s enough to make the all-encompassing “love” that follows believable. And since some of the plot and the reader’s feelings depend on this relationship, the insta-love weakens the entire book.

But the most frustrating part of the love triangle is Malek. Oh, Malek. Nalia’s “romance” with Malek ignites because she has to seduce him for plot reasons, even though she doesn’t really want to. But of course, there’s this “spark” and she soon finds herself making out with Malek because she wants to. So far, so good, except that Malek is an abusive ass. There, I’ve said it. Nalia and Malek’s relationship is completely unhealthy because it is an abusive relationship. I mean, Nalia is literally Malek’s slave. That’s not a good start to a relationship. Every time Malek comes near her, Nalia is afraid he’ll hit her or put her in the bottle (which is the worst form of punishment – almost torture). It was so painful to see because their developing relationship is the picture of an abusive relationship. If only it was addressed as such! Then it would’ve been a whole other story. And while Nalia admits in the end that their relationship wasn’t exactly healthy, it’s never mentioned that it was downright abusive. I think Demetrios was trying to go for a controlling and sexy man, and while there’s nothing wrong with that per se, Malek overdid the controlling/abusive part and that erased all possible sexiness.

Then there is the pacing of the book. Goodreads tells me this is 480 pages, and I think a lot of those pages could have been cut. Especially the middle part of the book drags, because not much is happening besides Nalia shopping/hanging out at a bar/monologueing. There are also a few scenes from the point of view of the villain, which were  creepy and awesome at first bit quickly became repetitive. Those scenes started to take the momentum out of the plot, which was honestly the last thing this book needed. I found myself skimming them because of this and also because each villain scene is essentially the same as the one before it. I liked it the first two times, but after that I wished they’d been cut out.

This all sounds rather harsh, and I didn’t like the book much to be honest. However, I won’t say the book doesn’t have any good parts. The jinni aspect was original and well-thought out, and I loved the diversity Demetrios included. A couple characters are LGBT just because, and I love that. The world is made of diverse people, and I appreciate it when books reflect that. Also, Nalia is not white, which I also love. The only issue I took with that was when her skin was described as “cinnamon“, which, no. Describing POC characters in terms of food has been a pretty big trend lately, for some reason. It’s something I do not appreciate at all (let’s be real – if someone called me “vanilla” or “yoghurt” or something I’d be pretty offended) and this trend needs to die. But other than that, I appreciated the diversity.

Exquisite Captive turned out to be not my kind of book. However, it seems like it’s a pretty polarizing read – so far people have either loved it or hated it. So I would recommend you pick this up if it interests you, because who knows, maybe you’ll be with the people who loved it! Exquisite Captive really does have potential, but it was wasted for me because of the things I mentioned above. I can forgive a lot, but an abusive relationship I just cannot condone. Let’s hope I have better luck with the next Demetrios novel I pick up, because she really is a skilled writer.

~Thank you HarperTeen for the review copy!~

2 Stars
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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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25 Responses to Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

  1. Jasprit says:

    This book does sound like it has a lot of potential Celine, so I can see why you would be expecting this book to deliver a solid novel. However I think the issues that you mentioned would annoy me too. I not that much bothered when it comes to love triangles, but when it includes an abusive relationship and it doesn’t actually address that matter then that makes me mad. However this issue aside, I really still feel like giving this book a go, maybe its because of the uniqueness that it has to offer. Thank you for your honest review! 🙂

    • Celine says:

      It does have a lot of potential! The abusive love interest basically ruined everything for me 🙁 I was really sad that was a thing that happened. I really hope you’ll enjoy it more than I did! I know there are also loads of people who have LOVED this so maybe you’ll be one of them! Thank you, Jasprit <33

  2. Melanie says:

    It sucks so much because I really enjoyed Something Real and I was expecting great things from Demetrios here. But you def need to read SR really soon because its all kinds fabulous and diverse 😉 Anyway, the romance sounds terrible here. Abusive? UGH.

    Fab review, Celine <33

  3. Lexa Cain says:

    I found the blurb confusing, and it’s nothing I’d ever pick up. Your review was excellent! Considering Nalia’s “owned” and the making out with a horrible person part, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t even get 2 stars from me… Thanks for the info!
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Celebrate: I’m Back!My Profile

  4. Oh wow, I was hoping for so much more from this one, too! I kind of thought it would be brilliant! Shows what I know. I think I’ll end up bored, I’m afraid, especially during that middle part.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Review: SacrificeMy Profile

  5. Disappointing! This is one that everyone has been prebuzzing about because of the whole genie thing, but to hear it doesnt’ quite work makes me sad. I am not sure whether I will read it now. Thanks for the informative review.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Tell Me Something Tuesday #75: New Adult: Do You Like the Direction It is Going?My Profile

    • Celine says:

      I really liked the jinni aspect! But unfortunately that’s pretty much ALL I liked 🙁 I know loads of people have loved this, though, so maybe you will too 🙂 Thank you, Heidi! <33

  6. Kelly says:

    The premise sounded pretty good Celine, but it’s really difficult to immerse yourself when it’s too busy. If the horrid romance wasn’t bad enough, I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with all the unique names and locations. That’s one reason I usually don’t gel with many fantasy novels, no one seems to have a normal name. Brilliant review hun, I’m actually going to steer clear of this one <3
    Kelly recently posted…The Infinite Sea by Rick YanceyMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Ah yes, that’s one thing that puts me off sometimes too! If the names are too complicated, I just don’t remember who’s who, haha. But I think it’s actually pretty doable in this one, as long as you remember that Ifrit = power over fire and Ghan Aisouri = power over all elements. Those two are the biggest players in the book!

      Thanks Kelly! <33

  7. I’m not interested based on the summary, but I don’t think I’d like it now that I’ve read your review either. I like great characters and these seem a bit dull.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Subscription Box September: Babies and KidsMy Profile

  8. Zoe N. says:

    I’m with Mel. Something Real was probably one of my best books that I’ve read this year (second only to Dangerous Girls 😉 ), so I am definitely not going to lie – I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t like it as much as you hoped you would. I can’t say I don’t see why though. I’m not a fan of abusive relationships at all, so I’m not sure how I’d feel about the romance here. If only it was portrayed in a different way, you know?

    I do hope you don’t write off Something Real completely though; it seems like Demetrios is more skilled in the contemporary genre.

    Thanks for sharing Celine and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…Salt & StormMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      *flails* DANGEROUS GIRLSSSS!!!

      Sorry, what were you saying again? Oh, right. I’ll definitelt still give SR a try, because it sounds pretty amazing. And yes, the romance was what ultimately ruined the entire book for me 🙁 The love triangle was a choice between an abusive or an insta-love relationship, which, blah.

      Thank youuu, Zoe <33

  9. Dammit. I was hoping for something really mind-blowing with this one, because that blurb is really interesting.

    I think I’ll have a hard time with this one, since I’m super nitpicky when it comes to both main characters and love interests. Characterization and development are both very important aspects in a book, and I’m sorry this one failed for you on both of those. Unemotional narrators make it difficult for me to get into a book. And abusive relationships? *chucks book across the street!*

    Sorry you didn’t love this more, Celine. 🙁 Awesome review otherwise!
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. MaasMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Same here! Unfortunately, it did not blow my mind 🙁

      If you’re very nitpicky about MCs and LIs, I definitely think you’ll struggle with this one. The character development was shaky at best, and the relationships… Let’s just say that you could choose between abuse or insta love. *chucks book across the country*

      Thanks, Aimee! <33 I wish I'd liked this better than I did.

  10. Amber Elise says:

    I really thought this book was going to be a commentary on abuse and slave trade, seems like the author forgot to show how bad those two things are.

    Thanks for the honesty Celine!

    Amber Elise @Du Livre

  11. I completely agree with your thoughts on this book. The romance wasn’t good–insta love in one case and abusive in the other. Ugh. And you’re right…so much depended on the reader having an emotional response to them it really pulled down the novel. I couldn’t connect deeply for that reason. A good amount could have been cut for sure. I think the writing was skilled though…I think I’d read more from the author. I just wish this book had been a bit different. Great review!
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…I’ll Be Back October 1stMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      That exactly! The romance just went wrong both ways and that ruined the book for me 🙁 And it was such an important part too!

      Same here! I will check out her Something Real, but this one just didn’t work for me. Thank you, Kristen <33

  12. I’ve been so torn on whether to read this or not. Now I’m kind of leaning more toward “not”. It’s hard to connect to a story like that. Great review, Celine! 🙂
    Lisa (Lost in Literature) recently posted…Audiobook Review: Let’s Get Lost by Adi AlsaidMy Profile

  13. I am terrified to read this book which really sucks for me because I love Heather Demetrios’ other two books – and when I say love, I mean, like, obsessed. I just can’t believe she’d write a love triangle or a romantic relationship like that. 🙁 It saddens me.
    Also, I have an intense aversion to unnecessarily long books.
    Great review, Celine!
    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted…The TBR TagMy Profile

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