I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 3rd, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.
When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.
Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.
Man, I’m having so much trouble reviewing this book. Seriously. On the one hand, if, by merits of a young adult urban fantasy I would have to give it way more stars. Unfortunately, the author felt the need to shoehorn literary characters into the book for no real reason. It’s not like they couldn’t have had the same elements including the goddamn ancient assassins without slapping the names Helsing and Stoker et al upon it. Doing that just makes it awful and cheap and campy. Don’t ruin a good thing by shoving literary and mythological references into things that don’t need to be there. Honestly. Stop it. Name dropping is never cool.
Also, no, I can’t really label this as horror. Urban fantasy, yes, exciting to boot. Non stop thrills. But, not so much on the horror front. Maybe I’m just hard to scare?
The author also has a penchant for weird metaphors. In my own opinion, blood should never end up butter-thick, least of all within some sort of intense life or death situation. That is something you go to the hospital for, not fight demons during.
So, on with what I actually did like about this book.
The characters respond like actual human beings. Sure, they have some training and can actually take on zombies and ghosts and all that nonsense, but they actually screw up and they actually have feelings and they’re not entirely piloted by the plot bullet points. I really enjoy finding plots that employ this to this degree. Characters rarely act like actual teenagers in young adult books, they’re either TOO over the top or TOO adult. The author found that fine line between the two and walked it expertly. If you want another good example of what I’m trying to convey, watch The Faculty. They all react how I expect teenagers dealing with with both drugs and an alien invasion would.
The romance is the standard will-they-or-won’t-they, star-crossed lovers, daddy-won’t-approve bullshit I’ve been fed before, but I actually enjoyed it. See above response to the characterization, as it extends into this and makes the whole thing seem more down to earth and less annoying than most of the romances in young adult novels.
Despite the name dropping, the world building is otherwise sound. I like the idea of being able to exorcise ghosts with a camera. The baddies were all different and interesting, and the main characters, despite rigorous training, suffered from ailments such as PTSD and self sacrifice. Honestly, the book was well thought out, put together and didn’t let up. A lot of the book was edge of your seat action, and it’s upsetting to say that I almost put it down and DNF’d it due to the name dropping. It’s seriously a deal breaker for me. I’m glad I finished the book though, because once I just pretended there weren’t names being dropped, I actually enjoyed it.
As you can see, what do I rate something I overall enjoyed but also hate with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I guess it gets to land squarely in the middle.