WARNING: This review may contain spoilers if you haven't read the first book in the series, Need.
Zara thinks she has the pixie situation of Bedford, Maine under control. Her father, the pixie king, and his many minions are still securely locked away in their mansion, held captive by the iron bars Zara and her friends placed around the house. Occasionally a new pixie will wander into the neighborhood, but the band of protectors capture and incarcerate them pretty quickly. Unfortunately, Zara's father and his court aren't the worst of the teenagers' problems. Not one, but two new kings are in town and each of them is determined to have the pixie king's powerful daughter for their queen. Zara doesn't know who to trust or what to believe, and new myths are coming out of the woodwork all around her, but when the unimaginable happens Zara is forced to face her fate and make the choice that has the potential to save or destroy them all.
Captivate features more action and a stronger plot than its predecessor, Need, but still lacks the character development that would make it a truly engaging read. However, this novel is still entertaining - full of little quirks, comic relief and plenty of romance. Carrie Jones continues to develop Zara's distinct and fresh voice that stood out in Need, and switches things up by including hilarious "pixie tips" at the beginning of each chapter, in lieu of listing phobias. The tips are a playful and clever insert, reflecting the pixie manual that Zara and Devyn are writing in the story. Zara finally develops as a character, gaining spunk and taking action. Yet the guys still seem to dominate, despite their lack of depth. Zara is the pixie princess and the pixies are her problem, but the guys run the show -- Devyn doing the research and Nick doing the legwork. Even though Mrs. Nix and Betty balance out the male weres, they are not nearly as present in the story. Thankfully, readers get to see more of the energetic and endearing Issie, Zara's unswervingly loyal best friend.
Jones also introduces a new character in the form of Astley, a rival pixie king who makes Zara question everything she knows or has assumed about pixies. The handsome king should be dangerous - after all he is a pixie - but his behavior towards Zara is surprisingly sweet and sensitive, leaving readers (and Zara) uncertain of his true nature. Astley seems to be a creature of contradictions, creating an alluring mystique that draws the reader in. Zara does at least try to take matters into her own hands, and when she finally earns her warrior badge, it adds a new facet to her character and raises a lot of questions (questions that are inherent in the novel as a whole) about the nature of good and evil. Zara's human rights activism also evokes some ethical questions about pixie rights that add a deeper layer of meaning to the narrative. Though there is more substance to the plot of Captivate, it still becomes cryptic and confusing at times, seeming to contradict itself. It would add greatly to the series if the pixie, were and other Shining Ones lore was explained coherently and in depth. Still, this novel has its moments of heart-pounding action and gut-wrenching sadness. There are several surprises in store and the plot twists will have readers on the edge of their seat, mouths gaping in disbelief, while they anxiously await the final installment of the trilogy, Entice.