Friday, December 23, 2011

Review: Darkride by Laura Bradley Rede

"Some days all you can ask is that you stay human."
(Page 65).
Description: Ander McNair used to be the favorite son of a great monster-hunting family – until he was bitten by a werewolf and the hunter became the hunted. Now anything that makes his pulse race, even a kiss from his girlfriend Cicely, is enough to turn him into a monster. When he finally gets a chance to earn his cure by killing a vampire prince, he finds he has to choose between his own past and the future of the girl he loves. Can a guy who’s not even human learn what it means to be a man? Luke Marianez used to be an immortal vampire prince – until the witch he loved betrayed him and cursed him with the ability to die. Now he lives in the world of vampire blood bars, where the waitresses are the drinks, and dreams about killing the last of the witch’s line so he can live forever. But revenge doesn’t just mean breaking the curse. He wants to break the girl’s heart, too. Can Luke seduce Cicely without falling in love himself? Cicely Watson doesn’t believe in werewolves or vampires. She’s not even sure she believes in true love. But she’s about to discover what every werewolf knows: People change.

Review: Darkride is one of those books that you sit down to read, and find yourself physically incapable of stopping until it's done - and when it is, you still are burning to read more. From the beginning of the story, it immediately structures dynamics that leave the reader marveling at the world rising up all around them, exploding from each page in hand. The push-and-pull of the "no questions" and "I won't say it, but I love you" relationship between Ander and Cicely. The financial-struggle and being satisfied with less going on in Cicely's modest home with her mother.  What's real and what Cicely had always accepted. The coldness of detachment from humanity over outliving lifetimes. The ability to become human again. What love could possibly inspire. Changing when history seems to repeat itself.  Luke's mastership to Marcus's servitude. The love and chemicals of a bond or a bite. Ander fighting his nature and Luke embracing it, while they both hide it. Cicely's love for Luke and love for Ander - similarities, differences, weights - what each means to whom. Revenge. Love. Choices. Change. The entire book unfolded and blossomed, meanwhile I was spellbound and enraptured. 

Darkride managed to address things far too overlooked in the literary word: real lifestyles, consequences, the gritty emotions - even considering what a teenager's insecurities would be if instead of dealing with the typical self-image, also coped with a supernatural secret worthy of self-loathing - and taking that issue and applying it to questions people should ask themselves more: What is change? What is choice?  

You feel so bad for Cicely, knowing she loves Ander and is hopeless that he can return it. In the same way, you pity Ander and his circumstances - while absolutely adoring him for his fervent morals and passion.  In another way, you both pity and fear Luke for his pain and hurt, and how he has chosen to respond to it. In the midst of pity and love and fascination, because sometimes their lives become a breathtakingly train wreck where you simply cannot look away, the reader swoons over Ander and Luke, roots for Cicely, wishes that Emmie and Zoe - hilarious, loyal, and fabulous in their own ways - were their best friends, or that their parents were anything like Cicely's adoptive mom or Ander's makeshift fathers, Danny and Micheal.

The build-up has the reader looking over their shoulder, fingers twitching at the edges of the page, dying from the temptation to jump ahead but too engrossed to thoroughly consider it. As the plot unfolds, each new concept reduces the audience a heart pounding mess, sitting between forks in the the tracks and staring at the train head on, wondering where it's going - and then, the loud, tanking thing manages to pull off into a blind spot, taking it's leave and leaving you breathless.

Everything from the multiple points of views (perfectly structuring one of my all-time favorite "love triangles" ever!) to the clever character dynamics to the perfect pacing and brilliant writing are all potent symptoms to what eventually became a feverish case of "BESTFLIPPINGBOOKEVER". The character development is fantastic, and I love that you don't even need to check the chapter heading to know whether Luke, Cicely, or Ander are narrating, because their voices are so distinct. And yet, are still smoothly intertwined enough so that they never fail to surge the plot forward or transition between one another. My absolute favorite thing about it?  In addition to the pacing, POV switching, and present-tense-writing being executed flawlessly, everything in this book was just done right. Despite being about vampires and werewolves, it complete eludes and avoids cliche - while I love my Were-Vamp darlights, they often fall victim to 'been there, done that' or redundancy. That is definitely not a problem with this book. I've never read anything exactly like it - which is an experience I cherish from any novel that meets the quota. This story was told about realistic teens in believable relationships with supernatural conflicts. The characters were likable, lovable, or at the very least pitiable, even when you want to reach into Darkride's world and smack them over the head, in theory inducing the "OMG Why Can't You See This?" epiphany. Themes of eternal love and (literally) "dark rides" are woven-in perfectly with the awesome Shakespearean Romeo & Juliet references. The dynamic of Cicely-Ander-Luke tugs at the reader, making them ache like a love triangle should. And, at the end of it, I couldn't pick a team any more than Cicely herself!  Every compelling chapter drags the reader through the book by the ears, each an intense bit closer to the edge of the seat. I loved, loved, loved Darkride - and offcially am declaring it in my Top 10 of 2011. Highy, highly recommended!       

I recommend Darkride for fans of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Strange Angels by Lili  St. Crow, The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine, Fate Fixed by Bonnie Erina Wheeler, Wanderlove by Belle Malory, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris, Evermore by Alyson Noel, The Nine Lives of Chole King  by Liz Braswell,  and My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking.

Where to Find Darkride:

Where to Find Laura Bradley Rede:


Laura Bradley Rede said...

Thank you for this amazing review! It is a true gift to me to know that you really GOT the book on a deep level. I am thrilled that you connected with Darkride!

Miranda said...

Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it! :) It was such a pleasure to read/review it! :)

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