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Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Cascade and Torrent (River of Time #2 and #3) by Lisa T. Bergren

Publisher: David C. Cook
Published: May 24, 2011/September 1, 2011
Pages: 399/388
Source: Bought ebooks
Rating: 3 Stars

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead. But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.
Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times.   But love calls across the centuries, and the girls are determined to return forever—even though they know the Black Plague is advancing across Europe, claiming the lives of one-third of the population. In the suspenseful conclusion of the River of Time series, every decision is about life … and death.

In short: Though I needed more depth than the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren was able to give me, I do actually recommend this series if you're looking for a fun, fast-paced read.
The River of Time series has received so much hype and positive reviews that I just had to jump on the bandwagon and read it too. And I can see why this series is so popular. The extremely fast pace, the non-stop action, the swoon-worthy boys men, the feisty and brave heroines - the River of Time series is Entertainment with a capital "E". At no point is there ever any scene that is boring and at no point is there ever any lull in the non-stop adventures of the Betarrini Family.

At times, however, I felt the series was actually a bit too fast-paced for me - and this was ultimately the major factor in every little problem I had with the series. Plot points could have been better developed, characters and character relationships could have been further explored, and the time travel aspect could have been better explained, if only the series had slowed up the pace a bit more and included these things. Action scene after action scene is really fun, but I needed some filler to fully flesh out the story. And I really needed to know why Gabi and fam thought it was okay to completely mess with world history.

Something that really bothered me about the series, which I believe stemmed from the extremely fast pacing and not enough time spent developing the characters, is that Gabi and Lia kill A LOT of people and feel no remorse for it. We see them experiencing some grief after their first human kills in Waterfall, and then NOTHING in Cascade and Torrent. I realize that they're in a war situation and killing in defense is inevitable and I'm not asking for an all out Angst Fest here, but I needed for these young girls who grew up in the 21st century to feel something about these countless people they were killing, especially in a series where there are several passages where Gabi reflects on the value of human life. And though this has nothing to do with this series being considered Christian Fiction - because if you are a GOOD person, you will feel remorse for killing someone no matter what your religion - I was kind of under the impression that God wasn't down with killing humans.

Am I taking this series too seriously? Probably. But if that isn't an indication that what is supposed to be a light, fun read isn't the type of read for me, then I don't know what is. I needed more depth than the River of Time series was able to give me. This all being said however, I do actually recommend this series. All my complaints are obviously highly subjective and I think the vast majority of people would actually really enjoy spending an action-filled time with a cast of fun characters in Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series.

Previously, my review of Waterfall.

Other Reviews: 
Alison Can Read: Cascade, Torrent
The Bookworm is Here!: Cascade, Torrent
A Girl, Books, and Other Things: Cascade, Torrent
Logan E. Turner: Cascade, Torrent
Musings of a YA Reader: Cascade, Torrent
Poetry to Prose: Cascade, Torrent
Small Review: Cascade, Torrent
Supernatural Snark (complete series)
The Unread Reader (complete series)

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  1. Too bad you didn't love these two .. I have Waterfall on my shelves and have yet to read it. I'm really hoping I'll enjoy it. Thanks for the great and honest double review Aylee :)

    1. Great, I have a feeling you will! I enjoyed Waterfall quite a bit, and don't get me wrong, and liked Cascade and Torrent too, so I do recommend them.

  2. Aw, too bad! But I see what you mean. There are definitely a lot of nagging questions.

    "And I really needed to know why Gabi and fam thought it was okay to completely mess with world history."

    Because Marcello is gorgeous, of course! :P

    More seriously though, I've wondered what I would do in that situation. I mean, you meet the man you want to marry, do you sacrifice him and your happiness in order to preserve history? I'm not sure that I'd be selfless enough to do that.

    I do wish Gabi had mulled that question over a little more so I could have read her thought process. She gave a lot of thought to how this would affect her family, but a lot less thought to how it would affect history (and, would they be born in the future if they messed with the past? If they do something that leads to the death of their great great great ancestor and they're never born in the first place, does that affect their existence in the past now? Aargh, time travel issues!)

    I guess part of that is resolved with the idea that if god sent them back there, then it must be cool to stay, right? It's a pretty convenient answer and doesn't satisfy entirely, but I'm willing to go with it because it gives me what I want. Namely, I want to forget about the science of the time travel and just enjoy a fun story.

    1. Yeah, I'm willing to accept the answer to all my nitpicking questions as "because God made it so", but that doesn't mean it's a satisfying answer at all. I can very well assume that God made it so that even though they are changing the future so drastically, they aren't actually making it so everyone they ever knew in the present, friends and family, ceased to ever be born, but that's not very logical, and like you said, much too convenient.

      Still, this is what I'm saying about maybe I am just unable to take a book this lightly. I don't have it in me to accept such a convenient answer, no matter how fun the book is, which I admit is kind of sad. But I am far too left-brained.

      I can appreciate though that Lisa Bergren was able to put all that effort that she would have needed to create logical explanations for every single thing into some pretty stellar action scenes instead :)

  3. "I was kind of under the impression that God wasn't down with killing humans."


    You slay me, Aylee, you really do. Yeah, you have a good point there, and I really think it had a lot to do with how fast the series moved. I would have like more explanation on the time travel aspect too. I mean, how was it possible?

    1. It was like the author didn't even attempt any sort of explanation and was just fine with saying, "God did it" to explain everything. I really loved the action scenes, but could've done with a bit more character scenes as well.

  4. I'm with Smallie on the "Marcello is gorgeous" front.
    And really, I think that most people would just go with their hearts in the same situation, 'cause technically, history hadn't been written yet and they were living the moment and well, you know.

    That aside, I have to say that I liked Waterfall a lot more than I liked Cascade and Torrent, I felt thats were I really got to known the characters and where there was more of a balance between action and character development.

    Sometimes I felt there was a little too much action and not enough human interaction.

    But I still love the series and I look forward to knowing more about Greco and Lia and Lucca :D

    1. Perhaps that's the case. Still, I found it a little selfish that Gabi was only ever focused on what she wanted, not about all the lives in the present, her friends and family, that would cease to exist if she changed the future so drastically. But maybe the reason she never did question it is because she had such a high faith in God. I guess all of my questions about this series could be solved by just saying, "God made it so," but that's just too convenient for me. Unfortunately, I am too left-brained :S

      I liked Waterfall more too for the same reason. And I would actually be really interested in reading a Lia and Luca centric story!

  5. You definitely make some good points Aylee, perhaps I just got swept up in the pace of the story and didn't really reflect on how a 21st century woman might feel about killing someone even if it was in defense of those she loved:) Maybe part of the reason they didn't spend too much time analyzing their actions is because if they did the next time they were faced with such a situation they might hesitate and that could get them or someone else killed? I don't know, it's definitely something interesting to think about!

    1. Yes, there really could be any number of reasons why the author chose not to explore the girls' feelings on this - I just wish she had taken the time to do so. I loved all the action, but could have done with a bit more character development.

      Or maybe the reason why this bothered me so much is just that I didn't get the whole "Us vs Them", anything goes attitude, that Gabi would go on about, referring to the Forellis and the Paratores. And maybe I would understand that only if I were actually in Gabi's shoes. Or maybe I'm just thinking too much, haha!

  6. I've actually never heard of this series and I'm kind of curious about it now! It does seem like Entertainment with a capital E but it's also nice to have depth too. I think you made a good point about killing, it's an interesting thought and most humans have remorse for death. I might try this series out. Thank you for such an insightful review, Aylee!

    1. Good! I really want to make the point that I really do recommend the series to everyone because it is incredibly entertaining. You should also check out some other reviews from other bloggers - all of which are glowing compared to mine. Just not exactly my kind of read, I guess!

  7. I can see your point, Aylee. The way the time travel thing worked was something I had questions about too but then I figured maybe it was one of those things you just sort of have to accept and not dwell too much on. It's a fantasy after all :)

    I didn't think much about how fast the pace was because for large portions of the book Gabi and her family are simply trying to survive but I can understand how it sometimes made the finer details hard to flesh out. And unlike you, I'm not very observant so I didn't even realize that the Betarrinis don't really show much remorse in killing in these two. I do remember Gabi experiencing grief in Waterfall though.

    1. Yeah, that was my major problem, I think: I wasn't able to just accept the simple answer to all my questions that everything is as it is because God made it so, because it was just too convenient for me. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so left-brained and maybe I could enjoy things more :S

      Nah, I don't think it has anything to do with who is observant or not. I think I was just not reading as openly as most readers were going into this. I assume Gabi either had a reason for not experiencing remorse, or did experience remorse but it just wasn't written. I guess what I wanted was for the author to take a few moments out of the break-neck pace to have some more character moments. But don't get me wrong - I loved the action too!

  8. There were a few things that bothered me too in this series but I never realized the fact that the girls didn't feel any remorse in these two books :/ The things I miss! I see your point and I understand it :) I guess the romance and action just got to me and I happened to overlook stuff... but I really wonder about the time travel. Why did *their* handprints work? Maybe it will be answered in the following books? By far, Waterfall was my favourite :) Great honest review Aylee!!

    1. I assume all the answers to my questions about time travel could be answered simply with "because God made it so" because this is Christian Fiction, but I was just hoping for something a bit more logical and a lot less convenient to satisfy me.

      I don't actually think Gabi and Lia are horrible people :) I just wish the author would have taken some time among all the break-neck action to have some more character moments, delve a bit deeper into the girls' feelings. I love me some action, but a balance between action and character developing is ideal.

  9. I’ve never heard of this series before, but those covers are really pretty looking! I think I might give these a shot, but definitely keep my eye out for some of the things you said you didn’t like. I can especially see why the killing with no remorse would bother you! Thanks for your review!

    Darlene @ Leather Bound and Lovely

    1. Darlene, some few quibbles aside, I do strongly recommend this series to everyone. And I have no doubt that there's a very good chance that you'll like this much more than I did! It's really hard not to like :)

  10. I definitely hear you on there being so much action that character and plot development were somewhat lacking. I didn't actually mind the lack of remorse. Mostly because I'm tired of reading books where the characters go back in time and refuse to acclimate. I liked that Gabi and Lia accepted that the world was different back then and killing wasn't exactly the same - at least in the sense that that was the way things were. I'm explaining it horribly, but it was my general reaction.

    1. Yeah, part of me wonders if the reason I disliked that aspect is maybe because I just didn't get the whole "Us vs. Them", anything goes attitude, that Gabi would go on about, referring to the Forellis and the Paratores. And maybe I would understand that only if I were actually in Gabi's shoes. Still, it bothered me that no time was taken out to explain why Gabi never felt any guilt or strain. And I don't think it made sense in a Christian book. Not that I'm holding it to a higher standard than any other book though, because it would still very much bother me even if it wasn't Christian fiction.