Monday, September 10, 2012

ARC Book Review: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Title: Velveteen
Author: Daniel Marks
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Rating: 2/5

Cover Impressions:
The cover is what first attracted me to this book.  It is deliciously dark, simple and stunning.

The Gist:
Velveteen was murdered by a serial killer named Bonesaw.  She spends her days emerging from purgatory in order to chase down errant spirits and attempt to foil the plans of her killer.  When purgatory is thrown into upheaval, it is up to Velveteen and her team to hunt down the culprits and restore the balance between the living and the dead.

The blurb for this novel led me to believe that it was the story of a ghost seeking revenge on the serial killer that murdered her.  That story excited me and I imagined a dark and disturbing show-down between killer and victim.  This was not what I got.  Instead, Velveteen centers around a group of souls that are attempting to escape purgatory and return to the "daylight".  This story is not nearly as exciting.

A major problem exists with the world building in Velveteen.  It presents a unique representation of purgatory, however, there is little to no explanation of anything that is going on.  We are left to stumble after Velvet in the hopes that she will drop some tidbit of information that will help bring this world into being in our minds.  Alas, these tidbits are few and far between.  For example, purgatory seems plagued by Shadowquakes.  I never got a clear picture of what this looks like, nor what it means for the souls that are left in it's wake (one girl appeared to be captured by the first quake but was later mentioned as being shaken up - but fine).  We are led to believe that all of purgatory is mashed together from items that can stolen from the living and smuggled in through the cracks, yet there is a train and it is never explained how this came to be.  Every time I encountered one of these issues (and there were many) I was left flicking back pages, convinced that I had missed something.  It ruined the flow of the story and left me annoyed.

The characters themselves are bland and boring.  Velvet is a terrible leader and the souls that make up her team seem interchangeable.  They evoked no sympathy or emotion whatsoever and were not the least bit clever or witty.  It is never explained what makes these particular teenagers special enough to be members of the ________ team.  ________ was such a boring character that I just had to go back and look up his name.  There was zero chemistry between him and Velvet and her half-assed attempt to stay away was annoying and wasted time that could have been spent on developing the plot or explaining what the heck was going on.

When Velvet interacted with her killer there was a real sense of urgency and excitement.  These scenes gave a titillating glimpse into the book that could have been.  Unfortunately, there were only a few of these moments and, in order to reach them, I had to wade through page after page of grey dullness in purgatory.  

In the end, Velveteen left me unsatisfied.  I realize that this is the first in a series, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't provide SOME answers to the motivation of the villain, or the secrets hidden by those in charge.  Velveteen gave me no closure on this story and no desire to continue with the next.

A final note on appropriateness:  As a teacher, I would NOT recommend this book to my students for fear of being fired.  There is A LOT of casual swearing (see below), some pretty nasty violence and description of torture. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

17 and up
Gender: Female
Sex: Allusion to sexual acts
Violence: Knifeplay, Gunplay, Kidnapping, Torture
Inappropriate Language: A LOT AND OFTEN! Piss, Shit, Blue Balls, Bitch, Slut, Ass, Tripping Balls, Dumpster Baby (just wrong), Whores, Fucking, Douche-Baggy, Dick, Pussy
Substance Abuse: Use of Gas?


Unknown said...

Well...I had been excited about this one. Now I'm not so sure. It will stay on the TBR but maybe I won't rush to get to it ~ since I really dislike bland characters. Sorry you didn't enjoy it.

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