YA Rural/Town Fantasy
Page Count: 454
reviewer: Ah Yuan
The Summary: 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.
The Review: Wow. So much love for this book, I don’t even know where to start! I read the excerpt for the first chapter about a month ago and was really excited about this new novel. (Also the whole bit about this being a novel written for NaNoWriMo. That's pretty cool too.) First of all, I think the reason why I enjoyed this novel so much was because of Hanna. She’s an awesome narrator and definitely my favourite character of the lot. Hanna is i-n-s-a-n-e, not in the oh-she’s-so-quirky-and-interesting but as in she has mental illness. I think Dia Reeves portrayed this aspect of Hanna extremely well, and it spiced up the whole extremely common premise of New Girl Moves to Small Town and Discovers Magical Beings, etc, making this novel stand out. I really liked getting into Hanna’s head, the off-kilter way she would react to things, and just other stuff about her like her purple dresses she sews herself, how the fact that she is biracial (Half-Black, Half-Fin) influences the way she sees herself and her ability to adapt to new situations, her confidence in her looks, and her habit of saying “Unbelievable”. (Er, I could just go on, but I think we all get the fact that I think Hanna is Awesome. =D)
Actually, I just really liked Reeves’ whole approach to this world she created in general, from Hanna’s reactions to seeing stuff (Hanna’s reactions the first few days were like, hmm, I thought I took my pills today, guess they haven’t kicked in yet. *walks past those bloodstained windows like she saw nothing*) to the portrayal of the fantastical in this world. The creatures are batshit scary and feel very real, things that will kill you if you walk down the wrong street. And how the people of the town are deeply influenced by their knowledge of these monsters that lurk their town, how it shapes them from their behavior to what they wear to just, their physical selves and their telltale scars. I bought into the world Reeves’ created completely, and really enjoyed reading about the fantastical side of this novel.
I get the feeling that the biggest character relationship that readers will get into is the Wyatt/Hanna romance. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Wyatt, and the whole “You’re going to hurt him” stuff people keep going on to Hanna about only added to my enjoyment of this couple and their interactions. (Has that star-crossed taste to it, and I love me some star-crossed lovers.) I liked how they both weren’t quite normal, and how they fit together on more or less equal grounds in this relationship that isn’t exactly the healthiest of relationships. But the biggest character interaction that grabbed me by the heart and had me clenching my teeth with the tension and the heartbreaks was with Hanna and her mom, Rosalee. At the end of the day, I read this book for Hanna’s attempts to connect with her mother, and vice versa. I mean, say what you want about Wyatt/Hanna, but in terms of higher stakes and messed-up factor, Rosalee’s estranged relationship with her daughter’s got Wyatt and Hanna’s relationship beat. I loved watching how they pulled and pushed at each other, with Rosalee’s cold attempts to push her daughter away and Hanna’s fierce, fiery desperation to win a place as a daughter in her mother’s heart. They hurt each other and love each other in all the wrong ways and it’s such a broken, shattered, imperfect family but I desperately wanted them to stay together by the end of it. *
The book was a really fast fluid read, and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished every single last word of it. I was delighted by each and every turn the direction of the story went, and the story always manages to shock and put in twists that didn’t feel jarring or out of place. (I did think the Key stuff was a little overdone, but the Key gave me this really awesome mother-daughter interaction scene, so who am I to complain?) The writing was solid and serviceable. It didn’t stick out to me it jarring ways, but at the same time it didn’t wow or stand out for me either. But, honestly? With a cast like this and the crazy town of monster-infested Portero, who’s going to care? I had a blast reading this as Reeves took me for a roller coaster ride, and I enjoyed every second of it. Read it, read it, read it.
The Verdict: Dude, I travelled all the way downtown just so I could buy this on the release day. I had to walk 5 streetlights outside in the freezing cold because the subway shut down and by the time I got to the bookstore, bought it, and came back home, my legs were frozen solid. But was it worth it? DAMN STRAIGHT IT WAS. The year of 2010 just started but I can definitely tell that this is gonna be one of my Top Favourite Debuts of this year. Awesome premise, awesome characters, with one of the ruinous and moving mother-daughter interactions I’ve read in ages plus a nice dash of epic crazy, readers will be in for an amazing treat.
Title and Cover Discussion: I really love the title! It sounds awesome, and I keep associating ‘Violet’ with ‘Violent’ in my mind and it totally fits with the very vicious battles that raged all throughout this novel, and the violence of the characters in general. The only thing is that, I think the violet is referring to Hanna’s dresses, but she never calls them ‘violet’, but ‘purple’. I kinda wished that Reeves went back and changed all the ‘purple’ words into ‘violet’ to have continuity with the title, but this is just a nitpick, really. Now, the COVER. Omfg so gorgeous. If the Simon & Schuster company ever decided to make a poster out of this cover I’d buy it in a heartbeat. I looooove the violet dresses in the background, the font, the colours, EVERYTHING. ♥ ♥ One of the best covers I’ve ever seen.
*I was also amused by all the talk of the “Price fascination” when it came to Rosalee Price and her ability to draw in men to her side. Reminded me of Senjogahara. Those who’ve watched Bakemonogatari will know what I’m talking about.