Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Scarlet Dagger by Krystal Jones

The Scarlet Dagger (The Red Sector Chronicles, #1)Description: The strength of Sloane’s heart is about to be put to the ultimate test. After the Eclipse – the night vampires began openly slaughtering human victims – everything changed. Out of fear, the government salvaged what remained of the human population and enclosed them in massive, security-laden cities called White Sectors, while marking the vampire infested territory as Red Sectors. When seventeen-year-old Sloane McAllister’s twin brother disappears, she seems to be the only one who thinks he isn’t dead, and vows to stop at nothing to find him. Gathering her courage, she braves the Red Sector to search for clues to his whereabouts. By chance, she encounters Aden, a handsome, charismatic vampire with a hidden agenda. He turns Sloane against her will, and whisks her away to his underground city. Enemies quickly become friends as Sloane struggles against her attraction to Aden, and resists her growing loyalties to the creatures that ruined her life. But the vampires themselves are the least of her problems. The city is harboring a devastating secret, one that could change the tide of the war and threaten to destroy everything Sloane has come to believe in. Heart-stopping action and scorching romance collide in this dystopian, urban fantasy thriller.


Review:  The world of The Scarlet Dagger is built into two regions, the Red Sector and the White Sector, bravely and fearfully explored by the fierce, vampire-hunting, dagger-wielding Sloane - a heroine that manages to hold onto a ferocity and a humanity at once, even when the later is at stake.

Sympathy and understanding surround Sloane's situation from the very beginning. Her mother is evil, her father is dead. She has to lie to her best friend, to steal from him, in order to do what must be done. And worse, Orion is gone. In novels, I absolutely love the sibling dynamic, and the twin dynamic even more. Her brother, her twin, is missing (perhaps worse) - and it's her fault. It establishes a need in the reader for her to be successful - to know he's dead, not just to think - and moves the entire plot into the rapids. Something grave is at stake, and there's no stopping that riveting immediacy.

I hungrily devoured this book. Heart wrenching anticipation leaves the reader breathless as action pounds through the book, as roadblocks spring up - a twisted triangle between Aden and Leo, friendships that could mean anything, discovering exactly what vampires are versus what she believed them to be, what the disappearance of her brother actually meant and means, death threats, and attacks to kill her for what she is: something not even she is aware of. The quick-pacing and all-encompassing immersion of this book is riveting - the kind of read that leave your fingers itching to turn the page. There are so many awesome things about this book.

The world-building is woven into the novel itself, rather than clogging the readers gateway into immersion at the beginning - which is always impressive, and in this case crafted beautifully.  The uniqueness of the premise and setting, as well as the fascinating new take on the vampire lore of it all, is unbeatable. Many of them are monsters - insatiable, bloodthirsty beasts, not solely romantic lost souls fighting against urges and for humanity like those featured so many modern YA vampire works. They haunt the sectioned-off streets that act as bitter memories of the life before All Hallows Eve - the day the world as she knew it ended. It's exceptionally well-written, amazingly executed, and perfectly described. As the reader follows Sloane on the self-inflicted mission, images of the wreck after the attack are brutal. Despite the off-beat idea, it has an authenticity that is well-earned and rarely obtained in works that aspire to this. The most minute details establish and perfect a scene that is very difficult to make believable. Brief but potent descriptions that risk the brutal realities (ones so often glamorized or avoided in literature, especially YA) - everything from blood to power outages to government intervention to true incarceration to war to the need for escape to broken streetlights to very real evacuations to missing persons boards to broken school buses that act like hives - the later leading to the direct insinuation that, yes, children can die. It's a cold world. You can't help but picture the missing persons posters covering boards in refugee camps after natural disasters abroad, caught only by insightful photojournalists with statements to make. There's something vicious about it, and it's fascinating. As the scenes plow through to the underground, where beasts function... speak, reason, fight... then everything changes. She changes. And when this girl fights, she's not skipping around and getting high-fives. She feels pain and agony, she's fueled by hurt and love and anger, and burned by cruelties and betrayal. This quick, fun, gritty read is not for the faint of heart. All in all, it's brilliant. The ending absolutely killed me, and I'm dying to get my hands on more. I loved this book, and I cannot wait for the sequel!!  

I recommend this for fans of Guardian by Elita Daniels, The Hollows, The My Blood Approves Series, & The Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking, Some Girls Bite by Chole Neill, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Uglies by Scott Westerfield, Rapture by Phillip W. Simpson, 1894 by George Orwell, The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine, 30 Days of Night, Underworld, Priest, Resident Evil, and Blade Trinity.

Highly, highly recommended! It's only $0.99 - so get a copy!

Where to Find The Scarlet Dagger:


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