Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Author: Daniel Marks
Series: Standalone (?)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover
Average Rating: 3.64
Read it in: 5 days
Source: Bought from Amazon

- Summary -
Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem. The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days. It’ll be brutal... and awesome. But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

- Review -
There were so many things about this book that did not work, I don't know where to begin...

Actually, I do. I should probably do a bit more research before getting excited over a book I know absolutely nothing about. If I had, I would have discovered that the high ratings were probably given by readers who enjoy cheesy, cringe-worthy romances and main characters with zero depth and development. Which isn't a bad thing. It is just not my thing.

The plot, in its simplest form—ghost life in purgatory—was actually pretty interesting. As much as I adore contemporary and dystopian/post apocalyptic reads, I am even more a fan of all things creepy, ghost-y and disturbing. Perhaps this is why I was completely sold on the first few chapters of Velveteen. When we first meet the main character, Velveteen Monroe, she is in the process of ransacking her murderer's living room. Ron "Bonesaw" Simanski is a local crazy; kidnapping girls off the street and killing them, one by one. His preferred weapon of choice: knives, cleavers, saws and the occasional cheese grater... Gruesome, right? Which is why Velveteen has decided to stick around - to cause a little havoc, exact her revenge, and possibly save a victim or two. I really enjoyed how creepy and dark the story seemed, as well as the description and set-up of purgatory—how everything is gray and crumbling; covered with the ashes of the souls that have moved on. Honestly, with the setting and how the afterlife and a soul's Light were handled, I definitely think the story would have been a bit more tolerable if only Velvet had never opened her mouth.

The dialogue (and romance) in this book, and how it is approached, is equivalent to that of a really bad fanfiction - cheesy, clich├ęd and very, very annoying. Throughout the first few chapters, Velvet sets herself up to be viewed as tough, strong and independent, but the way she speaks and acts is a complete contradiction to this image. She was whiny ("why me?!"), self absorbed, and a tad unstable. She also claimed to be this amazing Body Thief, but was so unfocused during the few missions we were allowed to see that it wasn't even funny. She spends several paragraphs worrying about being shocked—you're a ghost, I think static electricity is the least of your problems right now—and then craves a PB&J sandwich during her fight with Madame Despot. This flightiness only continues throughout the rest of the story.

The moment Nick was introduced, I knew we were in trouble. I would not have minded Velvet's initial feelings for this lost soul—dislike, annoyance—if their relationship possessed any sort of growth and development. Instead, our heroine constantly complains about how much of a burden and inconvenience he is; making a point out of how he is not, and never will be, her type, only to turn around and make out with him a few minutes later. Stick this on repeat and cue Sam headdesking in the corner. 

I hate him. He is always in the way and I can't believe they actually expect me, the leader of my team, to train him in our ghost-y ways. He's so hot, though, and I really, really want to kiss him. Which I will do; acting like a total bitch to him afterward so that at least he knows not to expect anything from me (except petty jealousy, of course, and the occasional staring session. Because he's hot. And because I hate him).

Between Velvet haunting her killer/trying to save his next victim, her Retrieval missions, teaching/falling in love with Nick and then trying to figure out how to stop the Departure, there was far too much going on in this story, making it pretty hard to follow. I would have much rather preferred a simpler version—Velvet trying to move on from purgatory, maybe, or at least something with actual development and less romance... I really enjoyed learning about purgatory and how the different characters had died/the lives they had lived beforehand, but with with the constant inconsistencies, God-awful romance and obvious ending, I was ready for this book to be over before I had even made it halfway through.
- Rating - 

I gave this book 2/5 stars. A lover of bad fanfiction-like literature, I am not. Have you guys read this book? What did you think?

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