Monday, January 28, 2013

The Writer's View - Become by Ali Cross

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared.

When Desi is forced to embrace her inner demon, she assumes her choice has been made—that she has no hope of being anything other than what her father, Lucifer, has created her to be. What she doesn’t count on, is finding a reason to change—something she’s never had before—a friend.

The Writer's View

I really enjoyed this book -- and it's free! Seriously guys, go download this one now!

The heart of this book is what really grabbed me. There's a deep message about choice, about how each and everyone us, to a great extent, can chose our reality. I'm not saying we can choose to be millionaries, but we can chose to be loveable; we can choose to be happy; we can chose to ignore our darker sides ('cause let's face -- none of us is perfect, but we can try!).

This is what Desolation, the MC, is all about in this novel. As the daughter of the devil, choice is harder for her than most. I really enjoyed her inner turmoil and experiencing her struggle. She's far from perfect, but that just made her all the more loveable to me.

There are two amazing side characters, her two best friends Lucy and Miri. They are wonderfully developed characters. Watching their relationships with Desi unfold really sucked me in. Both them them really helped define Desi and the message of this book, and I just loved it. The only really weak and under-developed relationship was with Michael, the love interest, but since I'm not a huge fan of insta-love, I was okay that this relationship was sidelined.
Benefits of Telling vs Showing in a YA novel

Despite how much I enjoyed this book, there was one thing lacking for me: worldbuilding of Hell. Desi talks a lot about what it was like living in Hell, but in the book she only spends about one or two chapters there, and those chapters are very brief. I found myself really wanting to experience her version of Hell, not just hearing about it second hand. However, as I thought about it, the only way the author could have done this was to slow down the pacing and make the novel much longer. Seeing as how this is a YA novel, I think Cross made the right choice is telling vs. showing Hell to the readers. A longer and slower novel may be appropriate for an adult epic fantasy audience, but not for a YA audience.

I think as writers, we always have to keep our intended audience in mind. I feel fast pacing is essential to a good YA novel. Sacrifices often have to be made to achieve that fast pace, but as this novel shows, I think the trade-off is worth it.


  1. I actually have this book on my kindle, which I've yet to read. So glad you enjoyed it. I might have to move this one up in my pile.

    P.S., sorry to hear that All These Things I've Done is a bit slow for you. Hopefully it'll pick up later :)

  2. Oh! I've heard of this one! I'm glad you liked it, the lack of world-building.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Camille!

  3. Well, you had me at free and I trust your opinion so I shall read this one.

  4. I loved this book! And you'll see more of Hell in Desolate. :)

  5. I really like how you point out that it could have been better with more showing us hell, but then it would have been more epic fantasy and too long. Cherie says there's more hell in the next one, so I think that with series you sometimes have to wait cause as more is revealed you get more of the world building.
    I might have this one on my kindle already, but if not I'll grab it. I'm not sure when I will ever be able to read it, but one day!
    Thanks for the awesome review! I know I remember seeing it but I'm not sure if I've seen many reviews.

  6. I must have bad posting karma, lol. Either I accidentally post twice or my post doesn't show up at al!!!! Oh well, let me try to rewrite it:)

    So glad you enjoyed Become, and as Cherie mentioned, the issue you pointed out about Hell, well … no spoilers, but yes, it does get handled in Book 2 Desolate when...

  7. Fast pacing IS a must for YA . . . this generation thinks everything can be said in a text message, lol. I should know, my daughter dumped her first boyfriend over one *shakes head in shame as I realize I failed as a mother*