Series: Velveteen #1
Released: October 9, 2012
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Reviewed by Tori
Velveteen (Velvet) Monroe was killed in her teenage prime by a serial killer. Trapped in Purgatory, a never ending sea of gray grimy ash, Velvet’s anger demands revenge on her killer and soon she finds a way to cross the mortal plains to haunt him. Velvet’s need for justice though is causing problems for Purgatory. Her constant crossings between the land of the living and dead is creating cracks in the foundation and jeopardizing everyone’s souls; especially her own. Velvet doesn’t care about the consequences, until a hot new resident appears on her radar and she finds herself not so eager to leave Purgatory anymore.
Daniel Marks Velveteen drew me with the premise of a young ghost, hell bent on destroying everyone in her quest for revenge against her killer. Unfortunately, what we get is a story that never leaves the world building in order to tell the actual story. The classic bait and switch. A majority of the story, Velvet is in Purgatory, working as a salvager. Built in a Tim Burton-esque fashion, we are subjected to slightly humorous dialogue and situations, wrapped in a shroud of darkness and gloom. Marks builds us a seemingly familiar version of Purgatory. Dark and gloomy, covered in gray ash where ghosts are put into teams, doing certain jobs. There are salvagers, collectors, station attendants, house mothers, ect…each an important cog in the wheel that runs Purgatory.
Heavily character driven, I felt as though the story fought with the characters, struggling to assert itself and effectively cancelling each other out. Though well written, the sedate storyline, beyond the few brief periods we see Velvet interact with her killer, makes for a long, drawn out read. It’s not the story is bad, it’s just boring. Affected prose, choppy scenes, and never ending descriptions of banal everyday life left me feeling numb as I struggled to connect to the story. I wasn’t really sure where this story was going because it was all over the place.
The characters were a bit of sunshine that broke through the gloom. Velvet, our heroine, is a normal smart mouth teenager who’s realistic dialogue and actions made for entertaining reading. Though, I really wish we could have gotten more about how long she had been in Purgatory. She is a salvager and quite good at her job, giving you the impression that she’s been there for a really long time. Yet, at the same time, with her interactions with her killer, you know it can’t be all that long. Her crew provides some laughs as they all do their job in Purgatory while struggling with problems they suffered with in the mortal realm. We have requisite “mean” girls who get on everyone’s nerves but are more an annoyance than a problem.
Nick, our romantic lead, was an enigma. He is presented like a physical ray of sunshine as Velvet comments often on his glowing sexy physique, tousled blond hair, and overall good nature. I found him likeable but so different from the rest of the cast. He is…normal for lack of a better word. Happy and well adjusted-he felt like an anomaly in the story.
Both the romance and Velvet’s revenge storyline take a backseat as we watch Purgatory struggle against revolutionists-revolting spirits who are attempting to deport to the mortal world and “live” again. It’s only in the last 20% of the story do we actually get action, suspense, and a clearer picture to the overall arc. The last chapter is the highlight of the story and I only wish the rest of the book could have repeated that. While I appreciated the time and consideration that Marks brings to this story and his characters, this YA completely fails in it’s efforts to engage and keep my attention.
Overall Rating: D