Friday, October 5, 2012
Me on Velveteen
Author: Daniel Marks
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)
Velveteen 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 raging inferno, it's certainly not heaven. It's grey, crumbling, and everyone has a job to do, which doesn't leave Velvet much time to do anything about what's on her mind. Getting her revenge on Bonesaw. She aches to deliver the punishment he deserves, and she's figured out how to do it. She's going to haunt him. It'll be brutal, and it'll be awesome. But crossing the divide between purgatory and the living has some consequences. Her obsessive haunting has cracked the foundations and jeopardizes her very soul, which is a risk she's willing to take, except fate has thrown her a massive curveball in the form of a new unbearably attractive and completely off-limits co-worker. But she can't help herself when it comes to breaking rules or taking revenge, and she might be angry enough to take everyone else down with her.
Velveteen is dark and complicated, packed with sharp, sarcastic wit and deadly encounters at every turn. Things are headed to, well, somewhere, in a handbasket, and Velvet's the only one who can figure it all out and keep everything from crumbling. If she can actually focus instead of obsessing over getting revenge on the psycho who brutally murdered her.
What I enjoyed about Velvet was her personality and her dialogue. She's bitter, she's angry, she's annoyed at almost everything and everyone in purgatory, but she had awesome dead teen spunk. Her complicated relationship with Nick is very complicated. There are rules to keep them from doing the purgatory version of dating, and she's all about following those rules (instead of the one that says 'no haunting'), but she has no qualms about flirting with him or ogling him. Of course, Nick's pretty weird himself, very self-assured. Theirs is one of those sweet and mushy forbidden romances, and because purgatory is like the real world in some ways, you forget that they, and almost everyone in the book, is dead. Who says the dead can't find love?
It's quite possible that there is life after death, or at least some kind of existence where our consciousness goes and is still conscious, but no one knows for sure. Here, it's called purgatory, where some go after they die. Sure, it's called purgatory, but the book doesn't seem to be a discussion of religion. It's just a place filled with people who don't seem thrilled to be there, it's dirty because of all the ashes, and it sucks. Fortunately, it's the perfect place for Violet to angst about being killed by a sick, sick man.
As I read this, I wondered if something was missing, and it wasn't until I was two-thirds of the way through that I realized I was missing a sense of immediacy. The book started so surprisingly, rushed right into a huge quake, and there was a certain sense of 'something happening and we need to figure it out,' but it's possible that it wasn't enough for me. Or that it got lost in Velvet's cute and squishy dead teenage hormone-fueled kissing moments with Nick. Of course, 50 pages later everything exploded and I got the rush I was looking for.
At times, this reminded me of Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves and the TV show Dead Like Me with its mix of death and clever, sarcastic humour. No one really knows what happens after death, and this was an interesting examination of a possibility and how it could all go wrong. And it's nice to see that dead teens can still have snark and angst.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Random House through NetGalley.)