Pros: An interesting world and concept, surprise bad guy
Cons: Took forever to get all those "secrets" out; Rebekkah drove me nuts
The Bottom Line: A good book that, I think, could have been much better with a handful of tweaking.
The October book for the ABC Book Club by Calico Reaction was rather fitting, being that it is the season for ghosts and goblins and all. I've seen Melissa Marr's name on plenty of things before, but they're all teen books. This is an adult book for us older people, but heck, take out the swearing and knock the characters down a couple of ages and we've got ourselves a teen book. Rebekkah sure was angsty and annoying enough to be a teen (no offense to teens but...you know).
Rebekkah hasn't been back to the small town of Claysville in years. But when her grandmother dies, she must return for the funeral. But that's when she feels the need to do things. The same things her grandmother did after people died. And that's not all - something dangerous is lurking through the town. It's hungry and thirsty, and it's Rebekkah's job to put it back in the ground where it's supposed to be. There are plenty of secrets surrounding Claysville - as well as beneath it. Rebekkah needs to understand them and herself before it's too late.
There are a number of good things about this story. I really like Bryan, Rebekkah's would-be love interest (I'll explain that "would-be" thing in a minute), though he had a few of his own stupid moments, such as failing to ask questions that anyone with a brain would ask, or reading a contract - or anything for that matter - before signing it. But his dogged devotion toward Rebekkah was admirable, despite whatever spiritual-type bond they might be forced to have.
The combination of Graveminder and Undertaker was cool, and I liked all the unique things that the Graveminder was required to do. Easy to see why all the Graveminder's needs were seen to by the town. That's a full-time non-paying job right there.
I liked the atmosphere that Marr was able to show us, and the amazing world that lies beneath-ish Claysville. It actually reminded me of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book in some ways. There were plenty of intriguing little bits that occurred down there, though not all of them made sense. And the story itself, minus all that annoying secret-keeping, was solid. I never saw the answers coming. At all. And when I found out who the culprit was, it had one of those, "Oooooh crappy" moments to it. Like when you realize what the bad guy is doing and who they are and think, "Man...they suck."
However, there were a lot of annoying things about this book, and I gave it high marks primarily for creativity.
First off, Rebekkah was annoying as *expletive*. She was so wishy-washy about Bryan all the freaking time and after a while when I discovered her main malfunction I kept thinking, "Oh my gosh, life is short, get over it already!" She never talked about it and that Bryan never got mad at her for it which, while slightly admirable and impressive, was also annoying. She kept doing this, "Oh hold me, love me, go away" see-saw crap that made me want to either slap her in the face or just punch her in the mouth. Or at least see someone else do it.
Marr's agent, editor, or somebody should have picked up on her POV shifting. She does shift point of views between chapters, say Bryan for one, Rebekkah for another, and then someone else the next time. And while that's not all that bad, if I don't know who these people are initially, it can be confusing. Please at least stick their name at the top of the chapter like other authors do. Likewise, there were several chapters that were completely unnecessary. Like she was trying to weave in multiple story threads that didn't really need to be there. Then there were also shifts within chapters, which was really not cool. We'd be in Rebekkah's head and then momentarily slip into Bryan's. But only for a paragraph. I can handle that sort of thing in romance novels, partly because that's how a lot of them used to be anyway, but not here and not like this. I'm sorry, but someone should have caught that and pointed it out so it could be fixed.
I do have to say that the contract struck between the entity hanging out beneath-ish the town and the original people of Claysville just plain sucks. True, I give them credit that perhaps centuries ago it might have been useful - no sickness and all that - but in today's society it's absolutely useless. I don't understand why Bryan and Rebekkah can't just read it and say, "You know, none of this stuff applies anymore, so we're done." Especially when the alternative is having dead people walking around eating people. Just not a good trade. Even in the beginning, I don't see why the townspeople would agree to such a thing - especially since they thought they were dealing with the devil - but oh well. Then I guess we wouldn't have a book, would we?
And on a smaller, final note, I felt bad for Teresa. I mean, there she is, lying on the table, and then nobody ever mentions her again. Not even her sister, whose POV we've had at least twice before. Another POV that probably could have been cut.
It's a good book, though I honestly think it could have been better. It can be a fun read for Halloween provided you can get past the frustrating amount of time for the "secrets" to come out (even after people started getting eaten, but hey, I guess that's not a priority for some people). The underworld area is the most interesting and the final reveal is a bit of an ugly shock. I'll recommend it, but it's a weak recommendation.
Originally posted on Epinions.com
Notes from the playlist: "A Freak Like Me Needs Company" by Patrick Page