Saturday, June 15, 2013

Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight, #1) by Darynda Jones

Title: Death and the Girl Next Door
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Darklight, #1

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
ISBN-10: 0312625200
ISBN-13: 978-0312625207
Things get turned upside down for sophomore Lorelei MacAlister when the Angel of Death starts high school in her small town. What she doesn’t know is that she has been slated to die. It’s simply her time. And Death has been sent to do the deed. But when he touches her, when he peers into her eyes and reaches into her heart, he realizes she is more than what he was led to believe, and he disobeys his orders. He brings her back from the brink of death when he was supposed to push her into it. Because of this, he gets trapped on this plane. And that’s when all hell breaks loose. Literally.

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Lorelei is a firecracker as her auburn hair stereotypically suggests. Though in the beginning there was a bogged down version of Lorelei's feistiness because of the anniversary of her parents' disappearance, there's still some of her witty, and sassy self to hook you into the narrative. She does have a tendency to rely on others more when she is in any way hurting or emotionally distraught, but as the story progressed I could see an independence and motivation to discover the secrets behind her abilities and an internal strength that grew in the face of conflict.

Casey and Brooklyn, a.k.a. Glitch and Brooke, are crazy supportive when it comes to their best friend Lorelei and are absolutely amazing BFFs. They go above and beyond to make sure Lorelei is protected as she breaks into new territory concerning her abilities and also help her discover new information about their crazy and unbelievable situation.

Jared is one of the first characters introduced in the book, as being a powerful being who can slay monsters in one of Lorelei's visions. He is portrayed as a "supernova" among other males, making his physical appearance out of this world in good looks. His tall, muscular presence attracts Lorelei magnetically and they seem to share a bond. While I wouldn't say the romance between them started instantaneously, there didn't seem to be much getting to know each other before they couldn't live without the other.

Cameron was initially one of those characters that got under my skin because he fell under one of my bookish pet peeves. He started stalking Lorelei for a reason unknown, then proceeded to pick fights with Jared--though Jared wasn't opposed--and then he would make comments about Lorelei's inability to understand the situation going on around her. The problem I had with Cameron dealt more with the latter. Sometimes, in YA books, there seems to be a character that serves no other purpose in the novel except to antagonize the main character with passive aggressive comments about how they couldn't possibly know what was happening around them, and instead of giving the protagonist a hint of what's going on, they instead  think it is more productive to badger them with verbal insults and provocations. It makes my blood boil.

It wasn't until the halfway point of the book that we got to learn any real information concerning these two battling forces that seemed to be at each other's throat with just the drop of a hat. That was yet another question unanswered till further in: Why did Jared and Cameron hate each other so much?

The plot of Death and the Girl Next Door is the biggest issue I have with the book. In the first half there were too many instances where Lorelei was more of an observer than an actual participant in the ensuing chaos. Again, not until the halfway point, was there any real role for her to play besides the grieving orphaned daughter that's dealing with her parents' mysterious disappearance. To not go into too much detail, there were certain parts where Jared and Cameron were bickering and started revealing things about each other just to get the other fired up. These tidbits they were spewing was the only informative way to really get any straight answers about their purpose and underlying motives. Well, something is revealed about Jared and when his role is explained, it was too convenient of a description. It's hard to explain without spoilers but I'll say this much, if all it took was a prayer from a faithful person then I think his job would be way more complex then it is actually portrayed.There was also a lack of cohesion when it came to seamlessly tie in one event to another, it felt like watching choppy jump cuts in a video.

Because of all the explanation about Jared's character and Cameron's stupid brooding self, there's a lot to be desired when it comes to the main character. I would even go so far as to say that the romance is given a prominent role than Lorelei. I just wish there was more sustenance to her character and her desires than just wanting to kiss Jared. While the ending was more than informative and cathartic for Lorelei, it didn't fully let the new discoveries sink in before the book was finished.

The writing is one of the lighter and addictive aspects that kept me reading and engaged. I greatly enjoy the author's writing because the narrative as well as the dialogue have a fluidity that pushes you to read the next chapter when you had originally planned a break two chapters ago. The book's setting is Riley's Switch, New Mexico which feeds my weird craving of wanting to go to a desert or really boiling state as a vacation. I'm not sure if that's something I'll ever pursue but whenever I read books that take place in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or Nevada, I relate to them more--since I live in Florida--than I would if I read a book with a more seasonal setting.

While the writing is not complex or particularly suspenseful, it does provide enough descriptive technique, active voice, and an overall thrill to attract readers into finishing the novel and wanting to know what's going to happen next. 


Source: Bought