Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dark Song by Gail Giles

Guess what? I was wrong! This wasn't a supernatural romance! They sure had me fooled. I was taken in by the cover design and the tag line "She fell prey to the predator's heart." Which, really, could mean anything, but I was in such a supernatural place I automatically assumed it was, like, a werewolf or something. But no! It was just a regular old human predator!

Ames loves her life. She gets along great with her family, goes to a fancy private school, her family's well-off and gives her whatever she wants. She's never had a boyfriend, but she's not that interested right now. Things are pretty good. That all changes when Ames' father loses his job. And it wasn't just that he got laid off. He did something bad. Now family secrets are being revealed and Ames is starting to see her family isn't so perfect after all. But then neither is she.

Ames and her family are forced to leave their wealthy Colorado neighborhood and go all the way to Texas. There Ames meets Marc. Marc is a lot older than Ames, but he loves her. He wants to protect her and would never betray her. But Marc is not what he seems.

But not in a supernatural way. In a totally realistic psychotic way.

So this is a middle school level book, and it's a bit dark. It looks at the deterioration of a family, as well as abusive relationships, within the family and between Ames and Marc. My main problem was how quickly the story moved. I understand that it is a middle school book, but that doesn't mean that things can't be fleshed out. Ames goes from being a goody-goody, to sneaking out to smoke up, to shop lifting, to dating a guy who's 22, to seriously considering letting the guy kill her parents so they can run away together. Whoa. All within the space of like three weeks. I mean times was just flying.

The best part was the portrayal of a controlling relationship, which while moving very fast I think was well done. Ames is looking for someone to love her and to confide in and Marc fits the bill. She feels like her parents have turned on her and don't hear her, and Marc exploits that perfectly. So even as Ames has doubts about him, and realizes quickly she shouldn't make him angry, she feels safer with him then with her parents. Even when Marc becomes violent and is telling her what to do and influencing her decisions, she ignores the warning signs so that she can continue to have someone to care about and who she thinks loves her back. I wish there had been more focus on that aspect, and less on the "so want me to kill your parents?" which felt a bit farfetched and weird.

Dark Song will be available in September.

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