Nightlife by Rob Thurman

(Cal Leandros, Book #1
Urban Fantasy

There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one ... Well, half of one, anyway.

Welcome to New York City - a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half human.

His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares – and his entire otherworldly elf race are after Cal. His half brother, Niko, gave up college to keep them on the run for four years, but now the Grendel monsters are back. And Cal is about to learn why they want him. He is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life...

 “What're you still doing up? You know all good little ninjas should be in bed, visions of homicidal sugarplums dancing in their heads.”

Urban Fantasies told through a male point of view aren't that common. There are a few out there but they're in the minority. This one's a brother team with Cal, being the younger brother, and Niko, the older, stronger, and more disciplined one. They both grew up with a horrible mother and no father, and Niko, in college, did what he could to protect and guard Cal. When the monsters came for Cal one night, however, they had to run off together and keep running, trying to avoid the monsters that want to bring Cal back into the fold. Apparently he's only half-human, and they're not even sure what the monsters want him for. With a plot like this, the reader in me begged to read it.

The beginning of this one fascinated me - with the creepy window tapping, the bizarre situations and the alarming sense of doom and mystery, I was hooked. It was a disturbing moment that I probably won't get out of my head for a long time to come. It started tapering off a bit for me after this,  and I felt the author lost his footing slightly. For some reason I started losing interest in the plot as it progressed, which is typically the opposite for me.

I enjoyed reading through Cal's sarcastic perspective, being sympathetic toward his inner turmoils about being a monster. Niko as the brother is a major character, and while he's "likeable," he does have a flaw -- he's TOO perfect. Robin was the funniest of the group and when he was around the enjoyability of the book shot up immediately. The troll as a character and villain - how creepy. He was huge and truly disgusting, what an awful creation! The monsters after Cal are unique in how they're created and what they set out to accomplish. I really do dig the world Thurman wove here.

There's a lot of action in this story, from martial arts fighting (Niko seems a blend of God knows how many fighting styles), weaponry (swords, guns, the whole enchilada), and a whole host of about everything else. The mystery is what really fascinated me (finding out what happened to Cal those two years with the monsters as he discovers it himself), and it is what kept me reading the most with anticipation. 

No anticlimactic ending here...still, the middle had cool parts but sagged as if the author wasn't sure where to go with it sometimes and a bit of the structuring fell apart. The protagonist and finding out the secrets was the best part, I think. It's worth a read even with some of the lagging (especially that beginning, wow!) and I'm curious how the rest of the series will fare.

   Book Quotes:

“When life gives you lemons. . . You might as well shove 'em where the sun don't shine, because you sure as hell aren't ever going to see any lemonade.” 

“We all have our security blankets in this world. Some are just sharper than others.”  

“Most kids don't believe in fairy tales very long. Once they hit six or seven they put away "Cinderella" and her shoe fetish, "The Three Little Pigs" with their violation of building codes, "Miss Muffet" and her well‐shaped tuffet—all forgotten or discounted.And maybe that's the way it has to be. To survive in the world, you have to give up the fantasies, the make‐believe.”

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