Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pretty Dark Nothing ~ Demons, Caffeine and Homecoming

Pretty Dark Nothing
Author Heather L. Reid
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It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.
Review: It's true, I'm a sucker for this type of book/genre. My inner Buffy fangirl longs for paranormal high school drama presented in the delicious form of paperback fiction. Some elements in the structure of Pretty Dark Nothing are cliche and share the usual formulaic plot line and character development similar to competing books on the market i.e. love triangle, popular girl with a crisis, jock, cheerleader, bitchy mean girl and the classic brooding musician bad boy. What makes this book stand a part is the subtle differences, including death as a stalker.

The eerily haunting descriptions are gripping and goosebump worthy. There is just enough of a dark veil drawn to turn the story into a hallway of horrors. Plus, Quinn doesn't possess any super power that she can call upon to battle demons. In fact, she is a hot mess most of the time and very vulnerable. Throw in Azazel, the evil spirit of the wilderness to whom a scapegoat was sent on the Day of Atonement or for those non-Christians, the prince of demons, and you've got a thematic twist of mythical proportion. This is what I like to refer to as adding depth to a seemingly basic and well-exhausted plot structure. Quinn has two options: live or die. She is tested throughout the story by deceit, abandonment, betrayal, physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation, humiliation...and the list goes on. In the end, she is given a choice despite it all -- Ah, the old free will card is tossed on the table.  

Making the larger connection: We all have demons whispering in our ears, some are louder than others. To fight or to give in? This is a struggle humanity faces every single day. This is what makes for a good and powerful story, when the reader can connect and relate fiction to real life--to see the parallels and ask questions. The moral isn't laid out and it takes some pondering to feel the true inner workings of the story. Reid delivers contemplation in a way that is entertaining, engaging, exciting, discussion-worthy and spooky as Hell.
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*ARC provided by Month9Books courtesy of NetGalley  

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