A sixteen-year-old on her first heist to steal an ancient Egyptian amulet inadvertently receives the soul of King Tut…and the deadly curse that comes with it.
And Olivia is not alone at the museum.
A member of a secret society, Xander believes it is his place to inherit King Tut’s soul and justly rule. He knows nothing about the society’s evil plan to control the world or the curse. Now, he must deal with the female imposter who stole the amulet.
Xander convinces Olivia they must form a temporary partnership. The two teens develop a connection, and together they must figure out how to end the curse before it turns deadly. On the run, unable to touch because of the curse, and managing the male soul inside her female body, Olivia must learn to trust Xander.
As the mystery surrounding the amulet unfolds, Olivia and Xander start to fall for each other. But is love enough to save them and the world from destruction?
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I'm torn between 3.5 and 4 stars for this one. Allow me to explain.
Soul Slam started out solid. It pulled me in from the very beginning when Olivia has to disarm a museum security guard in the middle of her first heist. The action starts off from the get-go and held my attention for the majority of the book. The story was well written. The grammar and spelling were great, and I can't recall any errors. The Egyptian lore is fabulous and I thoroughly enjoyed the small glimpses we got into King Tut's history. However, this is where one of my (small) complaints comes in. Olivia has a couple of dreams which are actually King Tut's memories. They also had some conversations (inside Olivia's mind), which I thought were great and would have added a lot to the story (I kept hoping for Olivia to get some profound advice from Tut and grow emotionally). These were some of my favorite parts of the story, so of course there weren't enough. I wanted more.
Xander...oh, Xander. He was my favorite character (with Tut as a close second) and often times he was what kept me reading when Olivia's internal dialogue would get repetitive and long-winded (but we'll get to that in a minute). Xander's entire existence was based on him absorbing Tut's soul. He was born and bred for the task. He lived an extremely sheltered life. He doesn't know his parents and was raised in the Society mansion, receiving no attention outside of his training and zero physical contact. Zero, people. Every time he didn't understand something that would be otherwise commonly known, I just wanted to hug him. But he is also strong, honest, loyal, and fiercely protective of Olivia. He's just the best. I also think if the story had been told from dual POVs, Olivia's and Xander's, that it would have added a lot to the story. I would have loved to have read about Xander's childhood more, maybe through memories and/or dreams. Flashbacks to his training would have been awesome too.
Now, back to Olivia. She was alright. She had some hang ups about trusting Xander and just wanted to get back home to Fitch...and I get that. She's an orphan who lived on the streets for many years, so it's natural that she is very stingy with her trust. And being an orphan who finally found some sort of, albeit messed up, family and normalcy, I can understand her desire to get back to Fitch, the only (horrible, despicable, evil) father she's ever known. But here is where my hang up is. Olivia is incredibly naive. For someone who grew up on the streets and has learned not to trust people, she has no street smarts and is quick to hand out her trust to those who do not deserve it. For example, there is this whole scene where she and Xander come upon some homeless men standing around a fire in a barrel. She pays them $5 to give Xander some clothes (because he's wearing a white tunic, which is a whole other story and if you want to know more about that you gotta read the book). One of the guys is acting sketchy and she doesn't think, "hmm, maybe these guys have unsavory intentions for 2 teenage kids out on their own at night." She just thinks, "aww, they're homeless guys and down on their luck." Of course, trouble happens. Of course.
*Side note* This is not me blanket stereotyping homeless people. I know they are not all bad, but IN THIS SCENE they are.
Anyway, Olivia was a likable character, I just got tired of her rambling inner dialogue. Yes we get it. Fitch is who you *know* and trust, but we don't need to hear about it every time the action stops and you get a moment to internally reflect. And given his track record in the story, he most certainly does not deserve your trust.
There are quite a few twist and turns, and the Egyptian lore was masterfully intertwined throughout the entire story...as it should since the entire story surrounds the fact that Olivia is possessed by King Tut's soul. All in all, Soul Slam is a solid YA book. I enjoyed it and will definitely be reading the next 2 in the series, Tut's Trumpet, and Peace Piper.