Sunday, May 27, 2012

REVIEW: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Velveteen (Velveteen, #1) Velveteen by Daniel Marks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review

I thought the story of 110,000 words was going to be a bloody tale of revenge but it wasn't. The blurb was awfully misleading:
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.
Uh, no. Velveteen was actually about a bunch of angry, disillusioned dead people called Departurists who wanted out of purgatory and so they commit a series of terrorist acts in order to accomplish their goal. And somehow Velveteen the heroine got thrust into their war. The revenge plot at most was like 10% of the story; the rest was about the society in purgatory crumbling down.

The Beginning

The beginning was rather confusing. It took me a couple of pages before I got my anchor down. Then it took a few chapters before the main conflict finally started. Of course, it felt longer because I didn't know at the time the Departurists thing was the main conflict till halfway through the story.

The story started with Velveteen secretly haunting her killer and then returning back to purgatory before anyone finds out. Haunting is a big No-No because it causes shadowquakes in purgatory. I'm not completely sure why. Something about bad energy. Please excuse me for my inability to explain the story concepts because, frankly, the story didn't explain them clearly to me. I still have no idea what ashing and dimming is about except that ashing is good and dimming is bad... I think.

The World Building

The world building was sloppy.
Time was a strange thing when you were living in the same city as people who’d died hundreds of years ago and yesterday.
This was told, never showed. Told once or twice and completely forgotten about. Purgatory was about as strange as New York City, which is to say it was disappointing.

I have no idea why there were train stations in purgatory. All I recall was that it was where new souls arrive. Most of them anyway because some souls get lost which I don't know how exactly that could happen. It was never clearly explained why.

Moreover, the story hardly explained the Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory concepts. The characters in the world didn't even know for sure if there was a Heaven or Hell. The characters were expected to know they were in was purgatory because someone told them so.

On things the story did explain, it was explained late. I didn't know what the story referred to as "daylight" until way late in the story Velveteen said it was a term for the World of the Living. Couldn't she said that the first time she used the word?

The Characters

Velveteen, or Velvet as she prefer to be called, was the story's heroine. The story was told in 1st PoV from her side. From the blurb, I expected her to be a bad-ass but she never maintained that level. She was strong, but she was mostly unremarkable.

All the characters were unremarkable. It was difficult keeping track of them because the story threw out names and barely developed the characters. I'm writing my review a few weeks after I finished the story and I have forgotten most of the cast.

I remember Isadora because she was the mean girl. The story took place in purgatory, not in high school, but there she was. The mean girl. Like all mean girls, she provided an easy excuse to work in unnecessary drama between Velveteen and her love interest.

Speaking of the love interest, the guy was uninteresting. He was talented, he was handsome, he was nice, but overall he was uninteresting. So uninteresting I have to re-read the story to re-learn his name: Nick. I have nothing against the guy, I just couldn't understand his interest in Velveteen. At first I thought he mistook gratefulness for love because she rescued him. Yet, it was her team that rescued him. Velveteen barely contribute. I quickly saw the romance for what it was — instant love.

The Writing

I wish the writing was more straightforward. Some passages, including the dialogue, were written in a roundabout way which jarred my reading pace. This did not help at all with my comprehension of the story in addition to the poorly explained story concepts.

The Storytelling

The pacing was kind of slow. The action and suspense, it was all mildly compelling and somewhat insufficient. There were times I felt like I had to work to finish the story. And I admit it, there were a few parts I skimmed because nothing was really happening.

In Conclusion
It'll be brutal . . . and awesome.
It was not brutal and it was not awesome. My main gripe against the book was that it mislead me to think it was a tale of revenge when it wasn't. It was about the Departurists.

Personally, I thought the Departurists despite their horrific acts of terrorism had the right idea to question their afterlife and to question the purpose of purgatory. These questions were never answered in the book and we can only hope they will be in book 2. The story ended with the main conflict resolved and that was it. There was no aftermath.

I rate Velveteen 2-stars for it was okay. I didn't think purgatory could be dull, but it was.

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