May 17, 2012

Review: Draw the Dark

By: Ilsa J. Bick
Published: October 2010 by Carolrhoda Books
Format: Hardback, 336 pages
First Reviewed: January 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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"The things I draw: They tend to die."

There are things the people of Winter, Wisconsin, would rather forget. The year the Nazis came to town, for one. That fire, for another. But what they'd really like to forget is Christian Cage.
Seventeen-year-old Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy. Ever since, he's drawn obsessively: his mother's face...her eyes...and what he calls "the sideways place," where he says his parents are trapped. Christian figures if he can just see through his mother's eyes, maybe he can get there somehow and save them.
But Christian also draws other things. Ugly things. Evil things. Dark things. Things like other people's fears and nightmares. Their pasts. Their destiny.
There's one more thing the people of Winter would like to forget: murder.
But Winter won't be able to forget the truth, no matter how hard it tries. Not as long as Christian draws the dark...

Rating: 2.5/5

What is it with me this month? I've read six books so far and this one and The Replacement were two with such original premises that I wanted to love, love, LOVE. But alas, I didn't love it. Liked it better than The Replacement, but didn't love it.

First things first: I liked the setting; it set a good tone for the book. Where it fell a bit flat was actually being in Winter. I felt like I had to make up my own town at times, and I prefer not to do that. I like settings in books to take me there instead of making me create my own.

At first, and for a good chunk of the book, I highly disliked Christian. I felt nothing from him and I didn't care about him or his issues or feelings. The minor characters were more developed and likable for me. He did get better as the book went on, but I never truly connected with him, and I feel like he's a character I'll forget. As for the other characters, didn't dislike them, but didn't love them. Some were nicely added and characterized, but others fell a bit flat.

The writing, though, is what almost made me put the book down. Honestly, I did not like the writing at all, only bits and pieces. First off, the narrative voice is one that I never like in books. Some of you may like it, but I don't. It's the kind where the narrater (to me) is immature teen. E.g "Anyway," "So then, So I, So this," "I guess this," etc. As though the character is talking to his best friend and not narrating a story. That just bugs me. But what drove me up the flipping wall was all. the. ITALICS! (And sometimes even bold.) Ugh. Seriously. I thought The Replacement ruined italics for me, but this was ten times worse. Thirteen italics just within the first three pages! Thirteen! She'd italicize stuff that didn't need emphasized. Also what drove me a bit nuts was how Bick tried to create her own unique style in areas by writing in lowercase (except for names), including i instead of I. I would have been all right if lowercase I's weren't one of my biggest pet peeves. I admire her for trying that style and I think it would have worked if she had given it more thought and consistency. She'd also leave a lot of chapters with a cliffhanger. And I don't mean the cliffhangers you want, I mean she'd just put: "Blah blah and" and the start the next chapter. It got really annoying. I just didn't like the writing. I'm sorry.

For the first half, I was bored out of my mind, worried that I was going to have to push myself through another Incarceron or Bleeding Violet. But I didn't, thankfully. The plot picked up finally and once it did, I didn't want to put the book down. Bick saved herself from a one-star rating. There were some nice mysteries and twists, as well as original plot points. Rather than being action-y and scary, it was more interesting and intriguing, which isn't a bad thing. I quite enjoyed that aspect. If it weren't for the plot, this would have been one nasty review. :\

I wanted to love this book so much more. I think with a tighter editing job and a more mature narrative and MC, this would have been a five-star-worty book.

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