Monday, March 15, 2010

Bleeding Violet

Title: Bleeding Violet
Author: Dia Reeves
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: January 2010
Hardcover: 464 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand alone.

Summary: (from Goodreads)
Love can be a dangerous thing....
Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

Review:

The easiest way to sum up the city of Portero is to dub it the American Nightside. If you, one random person on the interwebs who happens to be reading this, have no idea what I’m talking about then you should run out and get one of Simon Green’s books today. If you do though, then you know that the city of Portero must be one strange place indeed.

Full of strange creatures and doors that open up into different dimensions, Portero is not a place for the faint of heart. The Mayor has supreme authority and the hunters of Mortmaine offer the only line of protection against the things that go bump in the night. Residents have learned to dress is all black in order to blend in and it’s not uncommon for people to disappear or die suddenly. Basically, you’d have to be nuts to want to live in a place like Portero.

But then again Hannah already is.

Hannah is half Finn, half African American, bipolar, suffers from hallucinations, and obsessed with the color violet in remembrance of her father. After running away from her aunt, out of fear of being sent to the mental hospital, Hannah travels to Portero in order to find her estranged mother Rosalee. Hoping to find a place to belong, Hannah finds her mother completely unwelcoming and void of any warmth. Hannah and Rosalee finally come to an agreement that if Hannah can tough it out and make friends within two weeks then she can stay with Rosalee. Of course these things are never as easy as they seem.

Honestly, Bleeding Violet is one of the best young adult books I’ve ever read. Even though I like YA, there are a lot times I walk away from a book feeling indifferent about the characters. Often times I feel like the story doesn’t go far enough and is too on the “safe” side. While that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the YA books I read, it does mean that I’ve never walked away from reading a YA book feeling changed by the experience. I know not every book can be life-changing good, but I wouldn’t mind if a few more got even close.

And this book gets very close. Even though this book has a lot of surreal/urban fantasy elements, this book is actually very character driven. If you’re anything like me you will hate and love all characters in this book. Hannah is flawed and bitchy and yet I still found myself rooting for her completely. So many of the characters in this story are confident but also completely unsure of themselves and I loved it. It made each character feel authentic and genuine in a way I think we can all relate. I also loved that this book didn’t have the black/white moralistic diatribes too many YA books seem to have. If ever there was a book about shades of grey and the chasm between doing what is right and what is good this book is it.

As most reviews of this book point out, there is definitely some sex going on in this book. While some people may be turned off by this, I actually thought it was great. Even though the casual promiscuity was a bit much for me (kids, please don’t fuck your entire class in alphabetical order), I liked that it was portrayed in a way that people could actually relate to. It’s no secret that teenagers are honey bastards. Too many books ignore this fact completely or make sex some cheese fest about purity and forever. I also liked how Hannah and Rosalee were shown as using their sexuality as a way to hurt people. I think it’s natural for people to play with the power aspects of sexuality (especially when people are looking for acceptance) and it was interesting to read.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

You can read chapter one here.

Verdict:

While I still enjoy the Nightside books more as a whole, Bleeding Violet is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I couldn’t put it down and I look forward to what Reeves writes next.

Rating: 9 - Damn near perfection

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