Author: Shana Abe
Series: The Sweetest Dark #1
Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance / Historical
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Overview: Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.
England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
There are several things I really liked about this book. For one thing, the writing style and overall voice were amazing! The overall presentation of the story was unlike anything I have ever read and it made me instantly happy that I picked it up. I also really liked the main character and got behind her story right away. She is smart and sassy and generally the type of person you want on your side. I was completely sold… For about the first 50 pages.
It’s not that she lost me completely – throughout the story the strengths I listed above were still present. She simply Made some outlining decisions that I thought could have been better. For example, the first half of the book was working towards a big reveal (which is a tool used by writers to keep the readers interest as the plot unfolds). Unfortunately the big reveal in this story was something we already knew from reading the Overview. It just wasn’t enough to keep me excited, especially since it also lacked in the romance department. I didn’t realize how essential romantic tension was until I read this book. The whole idea of a preordained soulmate is romantic in itself, but the blind acceptance of that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Speaking of bad taste (on a random note), there seem to be a tad bit of unnecessary profanity in this book. Don’t get me wrong I think swearing can really add to my enjoyment of a book when it is used to help define character or is simply for humorous effect. It did neither here – Abe dropped the F-bomb in a situation that wasn’t serious enough to draw it from an otherwise proper character. While swearing doesn’t bother me in the least, I don’t think it has a place in a teen genre.
Overall, I think the unique approach to this story along with Abe’s obviously excellent writing skills make this a worthwhile read, despite my concerns. She also tied it up well enough that I am genuinely looking forward to reading the second book. I still gave the book 4 out of 5 stars, and I’m pretty sure my little holdups wont bother many other people – it really is a great book!
Recommendations: I would probably feel comfortable recommending this one to teenagers 15+. While there is nothing blatant, there are still a few suggestive elements that would get me in trouble with some parents around here. As always, use your own discretion.
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