May 18, 2012

Review: Guardian of the Dead

By: Karen Healey
Published: April 2010 by Little, Brown
Format: Hardback, 342 pages
First Reviewed: May 2010
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

"You're Ellie Spencer."

I opened my mouth, just as he added, "And your eyes are opening."

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline.

But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie's circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, "You need it. It will save your soul." Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality.

Rating: 2/5

I spotted this book at Barnes & Noble and thought the cover was interesting. I read the description and immediately fell in love. However, once I started reading, I was very disappointed.

The setting was the one thing I loved about this book. It's set in New Zealand, which is one of the places I most want to visit. While I wish the setting was described a bit more, I was still very intrigued by it.

I'm mixed on the characters. The main character, Ellie, was good. I loved that she was super tall and bigger as opposed to the normal "skinny" heroine. I appreciated the wit she had as well. As for her counterparts, I still don't feel like I know them very well. I felt like me, as the reader, should have felt the same types of love as Ellie did for her friends, whether it was just a friend, best friend, or someone she had a crush on. I just didn't get that. They didn't seem that developed at all, or as much as I would have liked.

I'm mixed on the writing style as well. While Healey had a nice flow to her words, and she used fragments (which I'm a sucker for), I'm not sure if she's that strong of a writer. She used too many adverbs for my liking, especially "stupidly," which just made me want to throw the book. And there were quite a few grammatical errors -- one on the second to the last page even; it was an extremely noticeable one. Overall, I think she's decent, but has a lot of room for improvement.

Originally, before I read it, I was a fan of the plot. It intrigued me. Someone stealing EYES?! A mystery in New Zealand?! Legends?! Sounded like a great read, but from the moment I started this, I was bored and confused. And it never changed. The beginning was so slow that I almost stopped reading, but I forced myself on and once it started to pick up, that's where the confusion came in. It has a lot to do with New Zealand legends and history, but I don't think it was handled like it could have been. It seemed rushed in places after it passed the slow beginning. It jumped around and I felt it just left some things unanswered, or they just seemed misplaced, as though Healey just wanted to add something to seem mysterious, only it didn't work. The only thing I enjoyed was the sporadic humor and the characters' voices in my mind (New Zealand accents! Come on!), but that was really about it.

Not something I'd read again. And to be honest, I wish I hadn't bought it. I was very disappointed. However, I've read that others have loved it. So if you're not sure, I'd either borrow it from the library, or make sure to read the first couple of chapters before you buy it.

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