Synopsis Snippet: Sam (Short for Samhain) dropped out of college and is now a fry cook at Plumpy’s. He’s also, as he’s about to find out, a necromancer who’s just made it onto the radar of a very powerful necromancer who doesn’t like competition.
The Cast: Token diversity efforts but mostly white and male main characters.
The first female character we get to know and are told is a strong, tough-as-nails girl, meets a grisly end and spends most of the book as a re-animated head. (A bit I considered leaving out but as it’s pretty much one of the first things you read in the reviews on Amazon I kept it here).
Despite this, for the most part the set of female characters are strong and unique and don’t spend all their time pining over boys. The boys are also individuals with personalities that are developed throughout the book.
I LOVED Ashley, who you don’t meet until you’re rather far along in the book. One of Sam’s best buds is the one non-white for-certain character of any note. Though it does look like he’ll get more screen-time in future books so I’m looking forward to that. There is also one older woman character (Mrs. Winalski) who is referenced as being incredibly active (even as being sexually active!) and very spunky. That was awesome to read.
Romance Aspects: There are some steamy moments that got my smile and happy-thoughts going but all the action aside from cuddles happens off-screen.
Language: Swears are there but they fit the flow of the text. It reads quickly and is usually in the first-person narrative from Sam’s point of view. No over-long descriptive scenes and just the right amount of flavor-text to get your mind happily wrapped around new characters and developments in the plot. There is also a lot of humor woven throughout the text both from Sam’s character and from great tid-bits in the non-dialogue.
Fat treatment: No on-screen fatties so there is a lack of size-diversity there but also no fat-bashing. Only two quotes regarding size of note, which came across rather neutral in the context:
“When Auntie Lynn walked into a crowded room, the people parted like the Red Sea he’d heard about from the fat preacher in church, though they didn’t seem to know why they were doing it.”
“The beige sink was only an arm’s length from the toilet, and I had to close the door to get into the shower. Sometimes it was good to be scrawny. A fatter Sam wouldn’t have been able to fit in my bathroom.”
Review: This is the story of one boy who discovers that his life is about to get rather bizarre. Necromancers, werewolves and were-hybrids, witches and harbingers who use BlackBerries to portal around like techno-versions of Death all make an appearance into Sam’s world and turn it wonderfully upside-down.
I really enjoyed this book. I had difficulties dealing with one of the first events in the book, which comes after a very strong description of a no-nonsense female character who just ends up mostly dead. It bothered me. Especially since I went into the book reading “Sam” as a woman for the first few pages; feeling a bit disappointed to learn the character was instead going to be a boy.
However, the flow of the book, the great characters we meet and see develop, the world that McBride creates all sucked me right in. By the end, I knew that the event at the start that I was bummed at did help set the tone of the book and got you right into the mind of the main baddie so, overall, it was a good-paced, fun read. The song-lyric chapter titles were great too.
I’d say this will appeal to folks from about 7th grade and up. There is a bit of sex and some language; though the sexy-times happen off-screen for the most part and the language is scattered throughout in a believable amount, not over-shadowing the rest of the text.
Great Quotes: Some awesome tidbits that might get your curiosity going.
“Despite her obvious stress, my mom still managed to pour the hot chocolate into mugs, cover them with fresh whipped cream and a pinch of cayenne, and add a cinnamon stick to them. She was like the Jedi master of hot chocolate.”
“You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a blanket.”
“Mrs. Winalski owned a candy-apple-red 1965 Mustang GT convertible, and she drove it like she could die at any minute and need to get five things done before that happened.”
Final Verdict: Loved it. If you soak up fantasy-genre books and are looking for a new world to sink your were-teeth into; this offers up the first in what promises to be a great world.
I hope you like the book review format I’m trying out here. I loved the way they do reviews on Forever Young Adult and tried to hit upon each of the topics that I know are of interest to me in considering a book. If there’s a category that you really think I should touch upon for future reviews to be more interesting and useful, let me know! I have a lot more books to review in the coming weeks as I work through this YA lit course (I’ve read 18 books already this year alone!) and would love to have a review template that works well! Would a set of briefer stats at the top be helpful to start off future reviews?
So, have you read this yet? Would you now want to? Would you suggest it to someone else?