Title: The Beast Within
Author: Jonathan Yanez
Series: The Elite #1
Publication: March 22nd, 2013 by Limitless Publishing
Category: Young Adult (YA)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Synopsis: Once eighteen-year-old Connor Moore stumbles across an almost human species, he is faced with history’s darkest secret, a daunting future, and a love life he can’t even begin to explain.
Concealed throughout the pages of time, there has been a powerful race of human-like creatures manipulating mankind. This Elite race is made up of five ruling families, who have obeyed The Law and remained content to keep their identities a mystery. Now after centuries of secrecy, an ancient foe is forcing them out of hiding.
When a dark-haired mystery woman named Laren crosses Connor’s path his life is turned upside down. Soon Connor is taken on a heart-pounding journey that leads to a startling discovery of who he really is and a daunting future of what he is to become.
** The Beast Within has been optioned for TV/Film **
Lately I’ve been reading books where the main character is female. I’m so glad to have leapt over to The Elite Series by Jonathan A. Yanez where the protagonist is male. When The Beast Within opens, readers meet Connor Moore, an 18-year-old in the summer between high school graduation and the start of college. Connor is a good guy; his father isn’t in the picture and hasn’t been so he takes care of his mom by helping her at the store she owns and although he hasn’t told her, he’s going to a local college to stay close to home rather than take an athletic scholarship at any number of schools far away. He’s the boy next door with something more to him. What this more is, he doesn’t know, but after a chance encounter with Laren while running in the woods, secrets Connor didn’t know existed begin to be uncovered.
Laren is flirty, mysterious, and tightlipped about exactly what her family is involved with beyond real estate. Connor is immediately intrigued by her…maybe it’s a good thing that Katie recently broke up with him after all. Katie is the girl next door, only wealthy and, like Connor, is something more. Although she doesn’t appear in too many scenes (although some of these are key), Yanez sets up a possible love triangle in future The Elite series installments quite nicely and I look forward to seeing it play out amongst the action. In addition to Laren and Katie, The Beast Within introduces readers to Lu (Laren’s gruff and beefy brother), Mrs. Hayes/Morrigan (an elderly neighbor who has answers to Connor’s questions), and Faust (creepy!) among others. Yanez has created some strong and interesting characters.
The plot flows smoothly and features plenty of action amid this tale of self-discovery. I was drawn in with Connor’s charm, and by the time he starts seeking answers about himself I was hooked. I was on the edge of my seat during Laren and Lu faced Faust and his crew in a standoff knowing that Connor was ready to spring into action in an attempt to save the day. When he realizes what he is and what he has the potential to do, will he be able to live up to the expectations of others and the tests they have set before him?
The Beast Within is a great start to what I hope will be a strong series. I can easily see why it was optioned for a film and you can bet that I’ll be heading to the movies when it opens.
Title: The Trials
Author: Jonathan Yanez
Series: The Elite #2
Publication: July 1st, 2013 by Limitless Publishing
Category: Young Adult (YA)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Synopsis: Lives will be lost, prophecies fulfilled, and trials endured.
Connor Moore doesn’t have the same luxury as other eighteen-year-olds. He has been called upon to assume the mantle of the Judge of an Elite race of humans. Now to prove himself to a population who doubts him, he must pass a series of three trials that will test his mind, body and spirit.
Things are made worse when two women vying for his affection finally meet and Connor realizes a decision must come soon. However, there is little time for personal life when an ancient evil force returns to the realm of men and Elites. If he fails to pass the series of trials to prove his claim as Judge and earn the Elite race’s support, the world will have no hope.
With the support of friends and loved ones, Connor embarks on his trials. He begins a journey that will take him from dangerous jungles, to lost islands and dungeons not of this world. Friends will fall, new allies will be made and true darkness will make its presence known.
After Connor learns what he is he must undergo three trials to quell the skeptics who don’t quite believe that he is what he is. These trials will take him to faraway places, including other realms and they aren’t going to be easy. The Trials are so rare, they haven’t happened in the last 1,000 years, so excitement is in the air, and no one knows what to expect. Fortunately, his friends are there to back him up and along the way he’ll forge new alliances, but will he be able to pass the trials and stop the evil that is heading his way?
I continued to enjoy Connor, who after learning that he is special, doesn’t change at heart. He’s still a good guy at heart, and he is not willing to compromise his morals for an easy way out. From actions to words, Connor continues to be a genuinely nice person. He is exactly the person I’d want in the role he is trying to prove himself worthy of to those who may doubt him. The Trials introduces us to a bunch of new characters, my favorite were the people living in the Amazon rainforest and I love how the Yanez incorporated Connor’s father into the book. It was rather clever and I was so glad to meet him as I had hoped he’d play a role eventually while reading The Beast Within. The other highlight of new characters is Connor’s new pet, but I’m not going to tell you what it is. I smile whenever it is in a scene.
Both Katie and Laren are still around and both have made their hopes of something romantic with Connor clear. Relationships and romance do not play a heavy part in the book, but Connor realizes that he has a choice to make, and soon. So far, the whole thing has been open and honest, which is niceand although no one knows where they stand, it’s okay because they aren’t alone. There’s no playing with feelings. At numerous spots in the book, a reference to their love triangle is made, and there is something I like and appreciate about it being called out by characters in the book. It feels more real this way because everyone is acknowledging it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of The Elite series. There was a well balanced mix of action, suspense, intrigue, and character interaction. If anything, I’d want this book to be longer but then again, that’s why there is Book 3, and I think this book ended on a great spot–a solid close to this part of the plot with the promise of much more in the overall story arc. I look forward to reading the next book in the series when it’s released. There may be four or five books total!!
The author’s website contains a soundtrack playlist for The Beast Within. When I saw this I asked what 10 Songs he’d use as a soundtrack for The Trials. I’m sharing his answer with you now: