VELVETEEN (Velveteen #1)
Paranormal Young Adult
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Available October 9th
Received from publisher via NetGalley for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.
problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno,
it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more
by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen
much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.
aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s
figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his
It’ll be brutal... and awesome.
But crossing the
divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences.
Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and
jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has
just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and
completely off-limits coworker.
Velveteen can’t help herself when
it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be
angry enough to take everyone down with her.
Darkly creative, Velveteen raises the fine hairs on our arms instantly as we find ourselves witnesses to the first day of what will undoubtedly be the long and brutal torture of a young woman at the hands of a monster who also made a victim of our heroine. We read the opening chapter with breath held, a few flashes of the violence done to Velvet ratcheting up our fear for Bonesaw’s newest victim to an almost overwhelming degree, but just as we’re prepared to pull a blanket up our faces and peek nervously over the top to learn the girl’s fate, we’re whisked away to Purgatory and do not return to the scene that had us terrifyingly captivated until almost halfway through the story. While the world building and the careful crafting of Purgatory is gorgeous, it’s also extraordinarily extensive and at times slightly confusing, the simple clarity found in our fear of Bonesaw replaced with an intriguing but murky take on the afterlife to leave us floundering a bit at the change.
Velvet is a young woman who elicits from us conflicting responses, her quick wit and dry sense of humor making us snort a laugh before her demeanor shifts and a mask of cool indifference slides in place. Though Bonesaw’s many instruments of torture clearly illustrated how easily Velvet’s skin when she was alive could be bruised, sliced, and peeled away, in death her skin is much thicker and seemingly unpierceable, emotional vulnerability something she left behind with her body as Bonesaw’s final blade hit its mark. Because her armor is so impeccably cared for, it’s difficult for us as readers to find a chink to exploit to our benefit, any attempts at connecting with her sloughed off as easily as the attempts made by her friends, and we can’t help but wish to return to a flashback of her time in Bonesaw’s shed of horrors where her vulnerability was at its highest.
Nick, Velvet’s romantic interest, is her exact opposite; a young man who’s open and playful and willing to take a chance at forming attachments even though he’s struggling with his sudden transition from life to death. He laughs quickly and easily and never takes Velvet’s repeated teasing and mockery to heart, continually making her aware of his interest even as she runs hot and cold from one moment to the next. Their relationship progresses to a declaration of love shockingly quickly given Velvet’s obvious reticence to admit she is in fact in possession of feelings, detracting slightly from a romance that was amusing in its lighthearted antagonism and successful in its tension without the addition of those three little words.
Overall, Velveteen presents us with a unique and truly fantastic world, Mr. Marks earning high points for his ingenuity and imagination in his depiction of Purgatory and the souls who inhabit it, as well as his ability to write entertaining main and secondary characters. Readers should be aware however that the synopsis is a touch misleading, as Bonesaw's murder of Velvet unexpectedly and disappointingly takes a back burner to the increasing unrest brewing in Purgatory, and the story itself is often slowed down by the weight of layer after layer of detail helping to describe how this new and unfamiliar world functions. While we’re given a nice conclusion to this first installment, there is certainly plenty of room for the continuation of Velvet’s story, and I hope the next book allows us to delve a little deeper into Velvet’s psyche and come out the other side with a solid and unbreakable thread linking us to her.