by: Libba Bray
I was a bit intimidated by this book before reading it. I mean, it's fat and supposedly creepy and I reallyreallyreally wanted to like it. It was also the first book I've read of Libba Bray's stuff and I knew that she has a lot of fans. But attempt it I did, and I am SO glad I worked up the courage. This book was fantastic and dark and creepy and fascinating.
Fantastic Characters: CHECK
There are so many intriguing and well-developed characters in this book. The whole cast was just brilliant. I think an important part of a book that switches perspectives (particularly when it switches between as many perspectives as this book) is that each one has to be exciting in its own right. You can't leave the reader wishing that he/she was still reading the other person's perspective. To accomplish this it is necessary that each new perspective and character stay interesting. This book really achieved that. I never found myself wishing to be reading any other part of the book or any other perspective because I was intrigued by what was going on in the here-and-now.
Evie: Yes, sometimes it's hard to appreciate a character who's fatal flaw is so obvious to the world, but I didn't find that the case with Evie. She's often incredibly selfish and a bit silly, but she was other things besides that. She's brave and spunky and clever. She kept me laughing at her quick quips and sarcastic bouts. She's the type of character you'd want to meet in real life because despite her faults and the fact that she'd most likely be annoying and frustrating to meet you still want to be friends with her. She's a character who seems very alive.
Theta: YES. I love Theta so much. She's hilarious and real. She struck me as very genuine in her own strange way. I'm a GIANT FAN of her romantic storyline. I need it to happen. like soon. (and by soon I mean 2014. when the next book comes out). I really want to learn more about her power and what exactly it does. It was just kind of mentioned and then never mentioned again.
Memphis: Poor baby. He's gone through so much crap in his life and I have a feeling it's just going to get worse for him. To me he kind of seems like the Leo Valdez of this series (sorrynotsorry. I'll never not make Percy Jackson references). He's vital and clever and you love him with all you've got, but BOY does he go through a ton of crappy situations.
and speaking of crappy situations,
Jericho: I wasn't sure about him in the beginning. He seemed a bit snobbish and I figured his storyline would be one of the less important ones. I figured he was just going to be a sort of side-kick. BUT NO. I was totally wrong. His was one of the most interesting and probably going to be one of the most important backstories (well, okay, so all of the storylines are going to come together and be very important, but his seems especially weird and special).
Will: Good ole' Unc. I think we're definitely going to be seeing more about his past, too. I mean, he's actually very kind-hearted, even when others don't see it. He took in Jericho. He took in Evie. He even took in Sam (I mean, Sam is a thief who was in the process of trying to rob him and he still said, "well, okay. How about instead I just give you an awesome job.") If Memphis is the Leo then I can only compare Uncle Will to Uncle Iroh (yeah, I'm always going to make Avatar: The Last Airbender references, too. You're welcome.)
Sam: One of the characters that we know the least about. We know something went down with his mom and whatnot, but that's about it. And we know that he's out for revenge. I'm excited to see where his story goes. He made me laugh as much as Evie did (especially in his conversations with Evie).
Blind Bill: WHAT EVEN? I don't know what is happening here, but I'm scared.
Horrifyingly Creepy Villain: CHECK
Because having a cult-following-long-dead-ghost-serial-killer as a villain wasn't creepy enough, Libba Bray had to add in the creepiest song I've ever heard.
"Naughty John, Naughty John,
does his work with his apron on.
Cuts your throat and takes your bones,
sells 'em off for a coupla stones."
And what was worse is that I listened to the audio-book and they actually sang the song and DANG IT, IT WAS CATCHY. It got stuck in my head and stayed there all day. I caught myself singing it out loud, sometimes in public...it was horrible.
Other than the horrifying song, the book was brilliantly creepy. It had all the suspense and terror that it needed and the plot wielded it well. The creepiness led the story along and kept the pages turning. All of the cult-y things were completely terrible and I found myself shivering at the perversion of it all.
Plot and Foreshadow: CHECK
While reading this book you can tell that this plot and whatever Libba is leading up to is incredibly complex. You can see hints of things here and there and you can tell that there is great importance in some of the things you learn, but it is impossible to know what this is the beginning of and where it's all headed. This book stood on its own quite well, it didn't have a giant cliff-hanger and the villain was mostly wrapped up (although I have a feeling not for good or for long). So I'm so looking forward to the next book to continue in this world that the reader now knows both so much about and so little about.
One small problem I had with this book was that in the beginning it got a little repetitive. Things happened and then stalled and it took some pressing on and nose-to-the-grindstone reading to get by. Then in the end a lot of it felt rushed into the last 50-or-so pages.
Fantastic World-Building: CHECK
The tone of this book definitely fits into the roaring 20's. There are flappers and bobbed hair, scandal and suspicion everywhere. Prohibition is up and running and the secret alcohol is flowing. There was corruption and underhanded dealings. Everything seemed different and yet so familiar. Although I would say that while The Great Gatsby is a story about the rich in the 20's, this book focuses more on the middle class and poor of the 20's. That made it all the more fascinating.
"Some mornings, she’d wake and vow, Today, I will get it right. I won’t be such an awful mess of a girl. I won’t lose my temper or make unkind remarks. I won’t go too far with a joke and feel the room go quiet with disapproval. I’ll be good and kind and sensible and patient. The sort everyone loves. But by evening, her good intentions would have unraveled. She’d say the wrong thing or talk a little too loudly. She’d take a dare she shouldn’t, just to be noticed. Perhaps Mabel was right, and she was selfish. But what was the point of living so quietly you made no noise at all? “Oh, Evie, you’re too much,” people said, and it wasn’t complimentary. Yes, she was too much. She felt like too much inside all the time. So why wasn’t she ever enough?"
"There is no greater power on this earth than story.” Will paced the length of the room. “People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense—words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions—words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.”
"There is a dualism inherent in democracy. Opposing forces pushing against each other always. Culture clashes, different belief systems all coming together to create this country."
"People tend to think that hate ias the most dangerous emotion, but love is equally dangerous."