The Originals 01: The Rise by Julie Plec (Hachette Childrens Books/HQN Books)

Family is power. The Original vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together always and forever. But even when you’re immortal, promises are hard to keep.

Arriving in New Orleans in 1722, Original vampire siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson believe they’ve escaped their dangerous past. But the city is lawless, a haven for witches and werewolves unwilling to share territory. The siblings are at their mercy…especially after Klaus meets the beautiful and mysterious Vivianne. Her impending marriage is key to ending the war between the supernatural factions—and Klaus’s attraction to her could destroy the uneasy alliance. As Elijah works toward securing a piece of the city for his family, and Rebekah fights her unexpected feelings for a French captain, will Klaus’s volatile desires bring their world crashing down—and tear them apart for good?

I’m a massive fan of The Originals television series on the CW, despite not being that entertained by The Vampire Diaries, its parent show. The Originals I find is a far superior beast, with strong, fun characters and some awesome, unpredictable twists and turns that keep the tension fresh and engaged. You’ll often find your jaw dropping at least once every episode, and that’s literally how surprising this show can be. I’d say it’s among the Top 3 shows on the CW right now, but their network has many shows that are very evenly matched in terms of awesomeness, with the other three contenders being the superhero dramas Arrow, The Flash and the science fiction saga of The 100. It’s pretty easy to see why I went into the first Originals tie-in novel with high hopes, then, as I was anticipating a lot more of the same goodness.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get that here. The Rise turned out to be a weak leak, which is really disappointing to see. Yes, the period setting of 1722 New Orleans allows for a lot of potential to be explored, and it’s usually always fascinating when The Originals delves into its rich history, and the characters themselves, the three Original Vampires, the first of their kind, Elijah, Rebekah and Klaus, are excellent. You’ll be reading the character’s lines in the voices of their actors. However, that’s unfortunately where the excitement ends.

I think the biggest problem with this is that I’m generally not a fan of the paranormal romance stories, and I picked up The Rise hoping that it would fall more into the category of the intense drama/story that fans of the show will be familiar with, but no. Romance is the main focus here as not one Original but all three fall in love with different characters, and it’s pretty instant as well. Normally I don’t mind romance if it’s handled well and doesn’t overtake the focus main story, but for this book, romance comes front and centre. The characters fall in love far too easily I found for the characters that we are familiar with in the show, and that doesn’t really help matters either. The characters created to serve as love interests for the main cast are, although varied, and each do play a role in the Originals’ plans for New Orleans as a city, are forgettable and don’t carry the same weight across. However, if you do like the paranormal romance genre and are a fan of the show, I imagine you’ll get a bit more mileage out of this book than I did, because you’ll certainly want to stay clear of this one unless you already have a basic knowledge of the players involved in The Originals, or at least, Elijah, Rebekah and Klaus who are the main focus here.

The story is the biggest problem of the book. It isn’t gripping enough. Unlike the show, which is able to tell complex, multi-layered plots and continuously develop characters at the same time as expanding the mythology of the series, The Rise doesn’t have the same effect here. The story is dull, and as forgettable as the characters created to serve as love interests for the main stars.

If you’re invested in Elijah, Rebekah and Klaus as characters and want to explore them in a period setting and don’t mind paranormal romance, then this novel’s going to be up your street. However, for everyone else, this is probably something to stay clear of and hopefully we’ll see an improvement in future Originals tie-ins novels now that the groundwork has been mostly laid here. And for those of you who are yet to watch the series itself, then what are you waiting for? Go check out the best urban fantasy series currently on television.

VERDICT: 4/10

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