Review: The Beautiful & the Damned

The Beautiful & the Damned (The Ballad of Nick & Mina 2)The Beautiful & the Damned by Jonathon Wolfer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was an improvement over the first. First of all, there were less missing apostrophes. But, second, the plot moved along a lot better. I’m not sure if it’s because of the changes in the plot structure (which we’ll get to) or Mr Wolfer had yet another novel under his belt, improving his prose, but I enjoyed it more.

The last book took place during the school year and the classrooms were the locations of many a scene. Wolfer did a good job last time of conveying Nick and Mina’s lives, but I think things could have been tightened up a bit. This book takes place in the summer so more or less every scene moves the plot along. Nick’s scenes are a little more pointless than Mina’s. We could have probably had maybe 25% less of his scenes and still conveyed what was going on with him. But, as I said, Mr Wolfer did improve and there was some character growth with Nick. I think the best thing Mr Wolfer did to grow the characters and stretch his storytelling muscles was to separate Nick and Mina.

Very early on Mina does something we didn’t see Buffy do until Season 6 when she’s been brought back to life twice – she becomes reckless and bored with her skills within the confines of Connecticut. She finds herself without a challenge and so she goes on the road to find one. In a scene that reminded me of the first X-Men movie (2006ish), she joins an underground fighting ring.

We gain a lot from this – we get to see more of the supernatural world of The Ballad of Nick and Mina (the name for the series). Mina gets to have some people she can be semi-open with. Nick gets to be less dependent on her to fight his battles – literally and metaphorically. We get some closure on the Adam situation.

Overall, it’s a good middle chapter in a trilogy. As I said last time, this is not my favorite way to do trilogies – in essence The Ballad of Nick and Mina reads like one book chopped into three. And really, it’s almost 3 novellas with the length of these books. (That might be slight hyperbole) So while the plot advances more than I thought it would (specifically when it comes to their enemy), there’s still no real conclusion at the end of this book. And that’s always a bummer compared to trilogies in which each book has a story that concludes.

As the last thing, I love whoever does the covers to these books. They do a great job of conveying exactly what’s inside without being spoilery.

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Author: Eric Mesa

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