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Via [personal profile] rachelmanija, whose reasons for not finishing this book got it onto my find-and-read list.


I really, really wanted to like this book. There are many things I do like about it. But.

If I had to pick a genre for Bleeding Violet, I suppose it is a teen paranormal, although only technically a romance; but one of the many things I do like about it is that it is so different from anything else I've seen in that direction. If it reminds me of anything it's of Clive Barker.

Sixteen-year-old Hanna arrives on her mother's doorstep unexpectedly in the middle of the night, to find that her mother's small town in East Texas is actually full of randomly opening portals to other dimensions, many of which release monsters and oddities into the town at no apparent provocation. Hanna is biracial, bicultural (her father and extended family on his side were Finnish), bright, promiscuous, socially maladjusted, and mentally ill. She mentions several diagnoses she's been given, but the one that seemed obvious to me is schizophrenia. As a result, the intersection of the dangers of the town with her own interior problems and her attempts to build a relationship with a mother she'd never met quickly produces exponentially multiplying badness, which isn't helped in any way by her acquisition of an apprentice-demon-hunter boyfriend.

Some things I liked: the setup in general. The various monsters and dangers, all of which are original, different, unexpectedly timed, and genuinely dangerous: this is a town in which you can lean casually against a picket fence and have a tentacle punch through it and start sucking blood out of your arm, or in which the swirling red lights that live inside windowpanes can lure you into becoming a glass statue. The fact that Hanna is genuinely promiscuous both because she likes sex and because she uses it for social leverage, and the text never punishes her for it-- any bad consequences are entirely due to her actually being a jerk about it. The willingness of the book to have an amount of gore in it that I do not recall previously seeing in YA. The way that no relationship in the book is easy, no trust is ever absolute, and yet no human being in it can ever be totally written off as unwilling to do the right thing. The way that Hanna has to try to reality-test the things she sees, because even though it's obvious that the freaky stuff is real and the town is really magical, she could still, in individual instances, be hallucinating. The way that the book never, ever falls into the trap of thinking that it is automatically okay for her to be off her meds because things she thought were hallucinations turn out to be real, and so bad things happen when she goes off her meds. The Mayor of the town, who is very spoilery to talk about, but extremely awesome. The demon-hunting clan's attitude, which I can only describe as incredibly Texas from my experience of living here-- their reaction to 'something terrible is in my windowpane' is 'well don't touch the windows anymore and call us when you really have a problem, but when you do we will be there with bells on, as long as you aren't being a wimp about it'.

And some major things I didn't like, which inevitably involves talking about more of the plot than people who would find this interesting might want. )

Ah well. I really wanted to like this book. I do like large chunks of it.

And it's a first novel, and it's a really ambitious high-wire act of a first novel, even if I think it falls off. If Reeves keeps being this ambitious, hopefully some day she'll stick it. She has already attained originality, and that can be difficult enough. I need to stop being annoyed at her for not being Gemma Files, because I only run across writers like Gemma Files every once in a blue moon. Reeves could get there eventually and I devoutly hope she does.


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March 2017

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