Velveteen by Daniel Marks
Author: Daniel Marks
Format: e-Book Galley ARC
Source: Random House Children’s via NetGalley
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Dates Read: June 25-26, 2012
Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.
The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.
Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.
It’ll be brutal… and awesome.
But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.
Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules… or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.
This book was obtained freely from the publisher, Random House Children’s, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
In an offensively average-looking isolated farmhouse somewhere in New Brompfel Heights, New Jersey, a butcher earns his nickname. Bonesaw targets young girls, abducts them, keeps them drugged and bound for a week–grinding, cutting, torturing–before he tires of them and disposes of the leftovers. Sixteen-year-old Velveteen Monroe had little interest in the town’s unidentified serial killer, until she landed in his shed. Being his next victim meant she wound up dead, and shortly thereafter, in purgatory.
It’s not all so bad, though. Velvet has made a name for herself, the head of an elite Salvage team, responsible for guiding lost and trapped souls onward from the land of the living. But the first rule of purgatory is no haunting. No traveling to daylight unless it serves the needs of purgatory. Tormenting Bonesaw, while arguably noble when she is able to distract him from obtaining victims or allowing them to escape, is certainly not an approved cause. If she’s caught, she risks losing her privilege to move on. And the very crack she escapes through may be contributing to the shadowquakes. She’s willing to risk it.
That is, until soul extraction number fifty-seven. He’s not her type. Not at all. But for some reason, Velvet can’t stop thinking about him. It’s entirely infuriating. She’s supposed to be the badass body thief of her team, not some swooning lovesick girl fawning over a crush. She’s ready to drop him off at the station and be rid of him, until she finds out his career path is to be a Salvage member too. And that complicates things.
I definitely feel like this book was written for people from ages 18-25. While some of Velveteen’s descriptions about her death at the hands of a serial killer are gruesome, I don’t say this because of the content. Marks uses a lot of pop culture references to fuel some of the humor in the narrator’s commentary. While this made me smile and relate to the book even more when I came across it, I feel like this could be a problem. These references won’t stand the test of time. I am already hesitant to say the current generation of young adult target audience (13-18ish) all know about pop culture figures such as Jared Padalecki, 50 Cent and Spencer Pratt, because they are already somewhat dated. Additionally, I feel that many older individuals picking up this novel might feel alienated by some of the slang words and phrases used by Velveteen.
Those possible flaws aside, I greatly enjoyed Velveteen. Velvet is a self-proclaimed badass. She can’t help breaking rules and getting into trouble, and her narration is full of sarcasm and wit, which makes for an entertaining read. Marks is a talented world-builder. I have never read a book about ghosts or purgatory before, but he successfully immersed me in the story. He does a great job fleshing out the circumstances of souls, what happens to them when they go to purgatory (or elsewhere), how they interact with the environment there and in the land of daylight, how they move on, and how the living can wreak havoc on purgatory. It is all very well thought-out and explained, and woven through Velvet’s narration so that the information is not dispensed in one big information dump. The big issues of the Departurists’ impending revolution and the shadowquakes add a heavy layer of tension to the novel. Velveteen is creepy, horrific, action-packed, thrilling, mysterious, funny, sweet, and romantic, all wrapped up in a neat little package. Marks is a talented, witty author that has successfully created a wonderful novel for young adults. I also liked the fact that, althoughVelveteen is the first novel in a planned trilogy, the ending was satisfying. I shall be looking forward to reading the next installment.
Be sure to check out Velveteen when it lands on October 9, 2012. It’s a great time for fans of young adult fiction, horror, thrillers, the paranormal, and/or witty, strong narrators. You won’t be disappointed.