Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Book: Strange Angels
Author: Lili St. Crow
Published: 2009
Source: Local Library

Dru Anderson’s dad always comes back. No matter what manner of long-leggedy beasties he’s hunting this time, he always returns to her. After her mom’s death and the subsequent years of moving around the country, following the things that go bump in the night, Dru can’t count on much, but she can count on this.

And her dad does return from his latest hunt. Unfortunately, it’s as a zombie.

Seems there are a few things that Dad didn’t get around to telling her before he died. Dru’s got to find out what they are, fast. Or the next casualty could be her.

Talk about judging a book by its cover. I looked at that and went, “Oh, yawn. Girl with serious expression, in shadows, tough clothing, and--whoa, original!--a moon. Just another prefab paranormal. I’ll give it fifty pages and then it’s on to the next.”

And okay, there are zombies and werewolves and cute boys and looming danger. But more than any of that, there’s Dru, a girl who would eat Bella Swan for breakfast and floss with Edward’s hair. If you can’t tell, I loved this girl.

Raised on the fringes of the paranormal world (which, rather awesomely, she calls the Real World), Dru’s got the knowledge and the training but not much field experience. Of course, that’s changing fast. She’s in over her head but paddling hard. Dru is tough and gritty, a survivor and a thinker. I mean, she shot her zombified father through the heart. Multiple times. Yet she also spends most of the book this close to a nervous breakdown, after having her only solid anchor in the world ripped away from her. The only thing that saves her is Graves, a new classmate with secrets of his own, who takes her in after she shoots her zombie father and winds up getting bitten by a werewolf for his pains, meaning that they wind up taking care of each other.

There were a few things that almost lost me about this book. Two of them have to do with Graves. One: really? In a paranormal, you name a character Graves? That’s getting beyond silly and into the kind of ironic that wears skinny jeans and smokes clove cigarettes. Two, Graves is mixed-race, Asian-Caucasian. Which is fine, I’m all for some diversity in our white YA world, but St. Crow kept harping on it. Seemed every moment that Dru looked at Graves, she had to mention something about “half-breed” or his skin tone or the epicanthic folds of his eyes. Harpity-harpity-harp. Enough. He’s not white. We Get It.

There’s also a character who turns up about midway through that made my love-triangle sensor go off, with a clanging “Oh for the love of God!” Thankfully, St Crow didn’t give in, but I’m still eying the next two books in the series with mild jaundice. A kind of, "Oh, yeah, prove that you can keep this awesome up."

I can't decide whether to be annoyed or not that the questions didn't really get answered by the end. It's a clear lead-in to the rest of the story, but we never really find out who or what is after Dru, and what the frickity-frack is going on. I'm plumping for not, at the moment, but your mileage may vary.

Do I recommend it? Reservedly. For those who love paranormals but you're tired of wimpy heroines who stand around swooning. If St. Crow can keep Dru at her current level of tough/smart/conflicted/kickass and doesn't give in to current tired tropes, I can't wait for the next ones.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Thanks for the heads up. This book just shot to the top of my wish list!