Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1)
By Darynda Jones
Expected Publication October 2nd, 2012
St. Martin’s Press
Young Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Source: Received uncorrected ARC from St. Martin’s Press (via NetGalley) in return for an unbiased review
From Goodreads: Darynda Jones, author of The New York Times bestselling series that began with First Grave on the Right, brings us Death and the Girl Next Door, a thrilling Young Adult novel garnering high praise and early buzz from major authors.
Ten years ago, Lorelei’s parents disappeared without a trace. Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home. For Lorelei, life goes on.
High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be. Until the day the school’s designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night. Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school. Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity. What does Jared know about her parents? Why does Cameron tell Jared he can’t have Lorelei? And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real? Thrilling, sassy, sexy, and inventive, Darynda Jones’s first foray into the world of teens will leave readers eager for the next installment.
“Holy Crap! Darynda is writing YA!!”
Yep, that’s probably the clean version of what I said when I saw that Darynda Jones was publishing a young adult novel this year.
Darynda’s crazy-good sense of humor + angsty, love-sick teens = fabulous ride on the fun train, right?!
Yes, yes, YES! Darynda Jones came through and delivered something unique for the young adult audience while still maintaining her “sexy” writing, witty humor, and her ability to move me to tears over the pure emotions she writes into a scene. She did that to me with the last Charley Davidson book and now she’s gone and done it right off the bat with her first book in the Darklight series.
So here we have Lorelei, a 16-year-old whose parents went missing ten years ago without a trace. She lives with her very hip grandparents and has the best-est friends in the world, Brooklyn and Glitch. On the tenth anniversary of her parent’s disappearance, it’s these two friends who shadow her endlessly to make sure she doesn’t drown in despair. And it’s on this anniversary that she bumps into a mystery hunk in the hallway of their favorite coffee shop and receives a disturbing vision. Oh, and then there’s loner dude stalking her all of a sudden. Just what Lorelei needed right now, huh?
If you haven’t heard from every other reviewer before me, I’ll say it here, “THERE IS NO LOVE TRIANGLE.” I can’t and I won’t tell you any more but suffice it to say, everything has a reason.
So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?
World Building – This is an urban fantasy setting so world building only involves establishing the players to the “game”. I believe Ms. Jones did a great job using her characters to explain her world’s hierarchy, “rules” and setting. This is the way I personally prefer to have a new world laid out for me. If its endless narration, I get bored quickly. I’d much rather discover the world with our protagonist.
Having been to New Mexico in the past, it was absolutely wonderful to visit again through Ms. Jones’ writing. I’m not sure a reader who hasn’t been there understands that yes, there are big fat mountains smack dab in the middle of the state so there are valleys, caves, etc. But I had no problems picturing it all!! Ms. Jones does a great job illustrating her setting through words. And when Ms. Jones says her characters are driving down a “hill” with a semi-truck barreling on their tail, they are truly flying down a mountain with a semi-truck trying not to fry or freeze his brakes behind him – been there, done that!
Characters – I really enjoyed the depth of Lorelei’s character. She has been through a ton of trauma and has managed to not act out but still carries the sadness of her parent’s loss with her and it colors her decisions at times. I actually found myself LOVING all the supporting characters even more!! Glitch and Brooklyn absolutely rocked my world with their quirks, strengths and endearing weaknesses (if you count Glitch’s height a weakness). I would go on (and on and on and on) about the other characters but I’m afraid I might giveaway something about the story so I’ll just zip it for now.
Story & Tempo – If you’re not familiar with Ms. Jones’ Charley Davidson series, you might not know that when she writes, she weaves intricate tales that are a slow burn, ramping up to the “Holy Crap!” moments near the end of the book. Yes, this book does suffer from “First book in series-itis” where the author has to take some time to establish their world. But what you get in return is so worth the ride!
First, Ms. Jones can write fight scenes like nobody’s business. In my opinion, she excels at being able to put into words actions that aren’t typically normal (as in a paranormal fight scene). I was able to clearly see in my mind’s eye what was happening during two particularly complex fight scenes. And Ms. Jones’ doesn’t disappoint in the imagination department either. Some scenes were completely ethereal and surreal yet I still could picture what was happening.
Second, I don’t think Ms. Jones could write a book that doesn’t make me cry. The emotional tension she can write in to a story – jeez! She did it to me again! Darynda Jones can write the most heartbreaking moments I have ever read.
You’re probably wondering, “You sure are long-winded about your love for the book! Why not a 5 star review?” The only thing holding me back is that it took up to about 70% through the book to actually start looking outside the world building element to go back and solve an actual mystery from the beginning of the book. It was almost like I had to hold on just a little too long for the super excellent ending. Eh, I’ll chalk it up to a quirk of mine; I have no patience.
Death, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2) is expected to come out on March 5th, 2013. And yes, you guessed it – I can’t wait (cue trombone).
I’d be really interested in knowing what you guys think! To help out the cause and to make sure all the International peeps get a shot at a copy of Death and the Girl Next Door, I’m giving away one pre-order copy (hey, stay-at-home mom here, on a budget). To enter, you must be able to take delivery from either Amazon or Book Depository.
AND, if you’d like to read the Prologue AND Chapter One NOW, run to Darynda Jones’ Official Facebook page and Like, Like, Like. On there, you’ll find the app “Darynda’s World“. In the bottom left corner will be the excerpt.
Or you can go back a post HERE and read my excerpt and enter the Blog Tour’s giveaway for another chance to win Death and the Girl Next Door and a surprise prize (say that five times fast!). Those giveaways are US/CAN only.
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