Monday, August 9, 2010
Review: Lili St. Crow, Strange Angels (Strange Angels, #1)
Pub date: May 14, 2009
Page count: 293 pages
Reading level: Young Adult
MY RATING: 3.5/5 STARS
Though it did take me almost a week to slug through this book (which, given the short page count, is not a good sign), now that I'm finished and have had some time to think on it I've decided I generally found more to like than dislike in it. Not a stunning endorsement, perhaps, but it could still be a lot worse.
Dru is a very likable character - a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of the tedious broads I've had the misfortune to come across lately in YA lit. Several pages into the novel, her dad--who we're already inclined to think fondly of since it's clear that our tough-as-nails heroine has a major soft spot for him--is murdered and turned into a zombie. He comes back as one of the Living Dead, a foul-smelling, rotting, animated corpse with a vengeance, and attacks Dru...who fortunately manages to kill him.
So we're only a chapter into the novel and not only has Dru's sole remaining family member--her beloved father who raised her from infancy and taught her everything she knows--been murdered, but he's also been turned into a flesh-eating zombie programmed to attack Dru...and she's had to shoot him multiple times in their living room in order to kill him once and for all. The putrid, human-sized stain on the living room floor is proof.
It is very shortly after this harrowing sequence of events that Dru hooks up (in the non physical sense) with Graves, a very nice--if occasionally cowardly--goth boy who seems about as homeless and family-less as she. Now, given the insane trauma Dru has just experienced, I would have been even more annoyed than I usually am in these types of books if her horror at losing her father had turned immediately into "I looked into Graves's sparkling green eyes and the weirdest thing happened! I felt a flush on my face! My heart was beating so fast! I was still sad about Dad, duh, but Graves just smelled real good! I think I love him!" type thing. Fortunately this does not happen. For Dru and Graves, it is a fight for survival, and though Graves does make a few amusingly clumsy passes at Dru, she's way too preoccupied with trying to keep them both alive, and trying not to succumb to her grief and terror, to even consider such a thing. Thank goodness.
Now...I know you can't have your cake and eat it too (sorry for the cliche), but that said, I did kind of feel the book was lacking a solidly sexy, charismatic male character. Christophe, the half vampire who arrives on the scene more than halfway through the book, has potential, I guess, but for now he's barely developed...and Dru keeps saying he smells like apple pie. Really? I mean I like apple pie as much as the next person (actually I prefer key lime pie...that tart limey taste paired with the sweet crunch of graham cracker crust mmmmmmmm yes please) - but it's more of the type of odor you associate with your grandma's house than a smolderingly attractive suitor-type. Or maybe that's just me...
Anyways. I liked Crow's writing style for the most part. She has a great way of adding really eerie details (like how Dru always gets the taste of waxy citrus in her mouth whenever something horrid is about to happen) which help define the characters and also rev up the suspense. I also loved the way Dru coped with her father's death. She didn't crawl up in the fetal position and weep through the whole book...but she also didn't get over it immediately and fall in love and save the world without a moment's hesitation. I liked how her father's voice was in her head through much of the book, advising her on what to do to stay alive, giving her comfort when she was tempted to throw up her hands in defeat.
So, all in all, a pretty good read. I didn't love it...maybe because Dru was the only character that I really felt any connection to...but I certainly found lots to like. I will almost certainly be reading the next one.