Monday, August 4, 2014

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
Release Date - August 5, 2014
Publisher Website - Macmillan/Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  372 pages
My Rating - 2/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.
This was one of those novels where I had high expectations going in. A deal with the devil, a girl driven to revenge, and a cute boy. What's not to like, right? Sadly, this novel didn't quite work for me because it felt, at least for me, like it didn't quite know what it wanted to be

The beginning of the novel is the bright spot in an otherwise murky story. Edie's desperation, her utter brokenness comes through effortlessly. Her desire for revenge is like a slash of red across the pages. You feel it. The novel worked much better when grounded in reality with subtle hints of magic. The lead up to Edie's 'pay back' and how it unravels was engaging. It's when the novel goes into the more 'paranormal' elements that it begins to unravel.

It felt almost like reading two different books. One that had heart, and something to say. The other was confusing and messy. It felt disjointed. Not even just how the two meshed together, but the paranormal aspect itself. It was a meshing together of various things out detailing the how or why. These explanations may come in further novels, but I feel after the first book I should have some sense of how the world these characters inhabit works.

The idea of inner versus outer beauty is a huge overarching theme in the novel, and one that is actually done with finesse. The ease in which Edie descends, coupled with her increasing enjoyment of the pain her revenges causes is tempered by flashes of guilt. As the stakes increase we see that perhaps not all her tormentors are as evil as she imagined, and perhaps things are not as black and white as she first thought. This presented a thought provoking, and timely discussion on bullying. Edie's torment is brutal, especially when you find out what pushed her over the edge, but it's contrasted by showing us that her tormentors are still just children too. As hurtful and thoughtless as they may be, Edie's actions are just as harsh. Neither is shown as being right or wrong, instead the overall message is one of sadness and pain for everyone.

The romance is your classic case of insta-love. She is immediately drawn to him because of his pretty face, and not much else. Kian is mysterious and as a result we don't get to learn much about him. There is also the shadowed possibility that Kian is not being truthful with her. While I could see an attraction, especially given her experiences, I didn't by that it was love. Edie's mentioning of how she shouldn't trust him, coupled with some other troubling behaviour, made me uneasy. The novel tried to point out these tropes that exist in young adult novels, and while doing so, fell victim to them as well.

Despite a few bright moments, Mortal Danger, ultimately fell flat for me. I am sure others may enjoy it more than me, and I do urge you to read a positive review to determine if this might be a book for you. For me, the moments I liked were not strong enough to overcome the moments I did not. I think I would have enjoyed it more if more focus had been placed on Edie's journey, and  her revenge, rather than the convoluted paranormal aspect that didn't quite mesh together.

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