Happy New Year! Welcome to my first review for 2013! Do you like to be scared? Are you a mystery, suspense, thriller or horror lover? I know I am! This review is for Emma Silver’s debut Young Adult novel, Blackbrooke, Book 1 of a trilogy. Here is the synopisis of the story:
Blackbrooke is a tourist town that draws “Outsiders” in because their residents are not all human. Tourists are attracted to the other residents, the creatures that come out at night. These creatures, called “Crits”, are monsters that roam the streets at night searching for food. For their safety, the humans must follow the Rules. These Rules entail the human residents to deny certain basic desires that are forbidden for those under the age of 18. All residents must lock their doors at dusk and pull their shades, locking themselves in until daylight. The most important Rule is not to go out at night. This is considered a ‘walk out’ and is the same as committing suicide.
The protagionist of the story is Liberty Connor. She and her friends hate these Rules they are forced to live by and most of all Liberty hates the Crits. The only Rule she appreciates is the one that makes it possible to leave Blackbrooke. When she turns 18, she can leave and be free of Blackbrooke forever. She spends her time planning a new life on the Outside with her boyfriend, Gabriel. Then everything starts to go wrong. Her world falls apart as her friends start to walk out. She know something is off and is determined to find out what it is. Are the Crits what she really needs to fear or something else altogether?
I will start off by saying that this is not a genre that I normally read. Being far from being a young adult, I usually always read adult fiction. That being said, I was hopeful because I really liked the premise and, as I mentioned above, I like to be scared. This certainly fit the bill. It is quite scary and you are pulled in wanting to know what happens next. It starts off with a prologue. The first few lines were very catchy. “I was seven when I saw my first Crit.” The reader is intrigued. Ok, what is a Crit? Right away the reader understands that this is not the norm and is curious. The next line, “It was a balmy summer’s day in Blackbrooke.” Since balmy means soothing and mild, that seems to contradict the theme set by Crit and the town’s name, Blackbrooke. A foreboding premise that makes the reader pause, if just momentarily, with a shiver of anticipation. What is about to happen? Great opening! Then the author drops the ball.
Instead of a short prologue (they really should be short), it continues on with back-story. This detracts from the powerful opening. Although this is information the reader needs to know, it is given as one big chunk. It is all written in passive past tense. This being a Kindle version, did not have page numbers but location. The first page with the powerful opening was at location 92. The first dialogue that breaks up all this exposition is at location 154. That is roughly around 50-60 pages of exposition. Then it is broken up by some dialogue as Libby flashes back to her childhood and introduces her best friend, Cassius and their past. This prologue ends at location 280, with the ending of the prologue: “I was seventeen when I saw my next Crit.” Now Chapter One begins. It starts with dialogue and you are in Liberty’s present day. This is still in the passive voice but there is more action and it brings you up to date with the story.
So then, it is a problem of pacing. I am not saying the back-story wasn’t necessary or even interesting, but it was way too much! This is what is considered an information dump and it will cause many readers to stop reading. Without action, today’s reader especially, will give up. That would be a shame in this case. The part that kept pushing me forward was still there. I DID want to know what happened next. I kept reading. I am so glad I did too! Do you know why? Remember this is a trilogy..yes, you guessed it! The ending! The beginning was powerful but the ending leaves the reader with a shocking cliffhanger. It is really powerful and makes you want to get book 2 right now! You can’t though, it isn’t out yet. Drat!
Therefore, my conclusion is that even though the pacing was way off, it is a great story and I do recommend it. I know that I have to know what happens next so I will buy Book 2!
Have you read this book? If you have, let me know what you think. If not, don’t be put off by the pacing, keep reading, it is worth the $2.99 Amazon price.