Monday, November 5, 2012

The Writer's View - Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake



From Goodreads: It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor


 
The Writer's View

I could hardly wait to get my hands on this book after reading Anna Dressed in Blood. Overall, the sequel was a fun read. I really love the 3 main characters: Cas (the ghost hunter), Thomas (the best friend who also happens to be a mind reader and an accomplished witch), and Carmel (popular girl, Thomas' love interest, and all around tough girl / loyal friend). They're all very engaging and I found myself really wanting to find out what would happen to them. I don't generally develope crushes on fictional characters, but I definitely have a crush on Cas. He's funny, brave, loyal, loving, and seriously kicks ass. This book didn't quite have the wow factor that the first one had, but overall it's still a good read.

Tension through ignorance

A main device used to generate tension in this novel was character ignorance (ie., characters keeping secrets / characters constantly in the dark because other characters withhold info, etc.). While this method was effective in making me want to drive an extra mile (I bought this on audio), I also found it a bit annoying. I've never been a big fan of plots that revolve around secrets and the tension that results from those secrets. Especially when there's really not a great jusitification for all the secrets, unless you count the plot device. This is just my personal taste and it's the main reason I didn't *love* this sequel. I see this technique a lot, so it's obviously pretty successful. What do you guys think of this?
 
Despite my gripe, which is just a reflection of my taste, I would not hesitate to recommend this book. It's a fast-paced YA supernatural adventure with loveable characters.




8 comments:

  1. Camille, Another great review! So these are my thoughts as a writer, and someone who has the opportunity to do beta reads. I think, the first place writers go for tension is WITHHOLDING INFORMATION, I have seen this done over and over again in first drafts and have ...ahem...struggled with it myself and gotten THUNKED on the head for it by my crit partners:) I just had to unravel the first half of an entire ms to undo the secrets, lol!!! But the point is, it's probably frustrating as a reader, because on an intuitive level we sense that the real source of tension....juicy conflicts, clever plot points, etc. just aren't being utilized...plus it's hard to seed all that stuff...

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    1. @ Heidi -- great point about readers! When plots don't work as hard as they should, I think readers know it. I've definitely been called out for it in my own WIPs! :) But that's why we have beta readers, right?

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  2. I am not of fan of plots that revolve around secrets. At all. I did like GoN, quite a lot. But definitely not as much as Anna. Great review!

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  3. Well, I guess I do this in my own writing, so I can't say I'm not a fan of secret-keeping. I suppose if it's done for really stupid or unrealistic reasons, then that might be lame, just like anything else. But, some secret-keeping is a good way to keep the reader curious and wanting to keep on reading. Just my opinion.

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    1. @ Cathy - Like I said, I do see this technique a lot, esp in TV shows, so it must have something going for it! I think you make a good point. There are secrets that are secret for a good reason, and then there are secrets that really only serve as a plot device.

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  4. Interesting review. Too bad you didn't enjoy it as much. I've actually yet to read this book, but heard a lot of great things about it. The first one was awesome, so hopefully this one won't be a let down for me. I enjoy reading about the main characters too.

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    1. @ Felicia -- it was still a great book, even if it wasn't as good as the first one. I definitely recommend it!

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  5. I really hate when authors do that. Sigh!

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