“People love murderers,’ I said. ‘My cousin Diane used to date a guy on death row in Texas. Well, I don’t know if they were dating, but she used to write him letters all the time, and she said they were in love and going to get married. But it turns out that he had, like, six girlfriends, so they broke up and she opened her Healing Angel Ministry…” (The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson)
I have to admit, books like this (YA or not) raise my hackles. Here I was, happily gulping down what I believed to be a boarding school book, when all of a sudden I had to check the cover because I could have sworn I was re-reading the end of Twilight. With little to no build-up, the main character suddenly finds that the paranormal exist and are, of course, inexplicably targeting her. Although I might’ve had a nice thing or two to say about this book an hour ago (such as how the main character does actually have a sense of humor) all of those thoughts have escaped me in the aftermath of the expectable climax.
It’s not even the over-used plot device that bothers me – it is the lack of respect for the reader. It is as though the witty mannerisms of the characters were only a device to engage emotions, so that when the characters become brave and suffer almost-deaths the reader would also experience fear and sympathy. The character development was basically the sandwich bread surrounding what was meant to be the meat of the novel, and the parts were as easily distinguishable. I understand that this is what a lot of action books have to do to a certain extent, but I do prefer books that don’t show their purpose so brazenly. While I wouldn’t recommend this book to people who love a carefully crafted novel, I would have to bite back my snide comments and recommend it to those who like the fast-based paranormal YA genre.
*Disclaimer: this cover is shockingly misleading. It would have you believe that this was a historical paranormal romance, when in fact the main character is an i-phone toting, tie-wearing high schooler who has only the slightest brush with romance. (And no one in the novel wears a top hat at all).