The afterlife is not exactly uncharted territory in teen literature. This October alone, we saw at least three related titles: Kimberly Sabatini’s Touching the Surface (girl on her fourth—and last—go-round at life), Kristen Tracy’s Death of a Kleptomaniac (girl dealing with her issues before moving on to the next realm), and Daniel Marks’ Velveteen (girl is murdered by a serial killer and ends up in Purgatory, where she has to juggle a job, a new romance, and her unresolved lust for vengeance... but the latter two items are forbidden). I’m only focusing on Velveteen here, and to be honest, there’s so much going on in it that I’m almost at a loss as to where to begin! Almost, of course, being the key word in that statement.
Check out what Bookshelves of Doom had to say about Fiona Paul's 'Venom.'
When I was about three-quarters of the way through the book, I had this conversation with my husband:
Him: What’s that one about? The cover is ridiculous.
Me: Um, no offense, but you aren’t really in the target demographic. But doesn’t the girl totally look like Jennifer Garner? Anyway, the art doesn’t really match the story. It’s more of a cross between Wristcutters: A Love Story and Dead Like Me, but with more action scenes.
Him: Oh. That actually sounds pretty good.
Me: Well... it’s kind of a cross between the two, but not as strong as either.
Him: That description is not very enticing.
Me: Yeah, well. Them’s the breaks, kid.
Think I’m exaggerating when I say that there’s a lot going on in Velveteen? Well. The threads that I’ve already mentioned are only the half of it. The storyline also includes a revolution, a conspiracy, a lot of detective work, as well as dealing with addiction, betrayal, and the frustration of a mature person being stuck in a pre-pubescent body (a la Claudia in Interview with a Vampire). Which is a lot to cram into one book, even one that clocks in almost 450 pages.
Aspects of Velveteen that worked for me: the crabby heroine with a supremely creepy backstory; the cool premise; some great imagery; and some intriguing ideas.
Reasons I ultimately did not enjoy Velveteen: there are so many plotlines and characters that none have much depth; I formed no emotional connection with or attachment to the characters; while I was told it was there, I felt no palpable chemistry between the heroine and her love interest; the backstory and worldbuilding was haphazard; and the prose was occasionally overblown along the lines of: “The sight of them triggered the edge of a faint memory that vaporized like a puff of dust from a fallen hollow acorn husk before she could get ahold of it.”
If it ever gets turned into a show for the CW, I’ll totally watch it—while the book didn’t work for me, the world and the premise still have loads of potential. Until then, though, when I have a craving for something afterlife-y, I’ll skip any future sequels in favor of reading the next Gina Damico book or re-watching Defending Your Life.
Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.